Varsity Baseball Team Sweeps Doubleheader

Followed by Win at St. Bernard brings Record to 8-1

As the late great Ernie Banks used to say: "Let's play two." Culver City High baseball swept a home daylight doubleheader against Peninisula High on Saturday, March 17. Three days later the Centaurs traveled just down the road to rout St. Bernard 9-2 in their opening game of the St. Paul Easter Tournament to run its 2018 season record to 8-1.

The Centaurs won the twinbill opener 6-2 before edging out the Panthers 5-4 in the second game versus Peninsula. It was another test passed for the young Culver team. 11 players on the roster are freshmen and sophomores with a few more brought up from the J.V. squad for the doubleheader.

"I felt that this series was going to be a really good measuring stick for where we're at because Peninsula is a perennial winner and at times a powerhouse program. So we knew that we were going to be in for a very competitive doubleheader. It sure turned out to be that way," said Culver Head Coach Rick Prieto.

Freshman pitcher Jake Glickman started the opening game and gave up only two earned runs on three hits in 4 1/3 innings. Peninusula got a run in the first inning on a double and a groundball RBI. The Centaurs immediately tied the game in the bottom of the inning on Mason Le's two-out single followed by Nick Lucero's double to the right field fence.

Dylan Singh singled and scored in the second inning to give Culver a 2-1 lead. Again in the third inning Le and Lucero singled and scored with Bobby Capa getting an RBI single, good for a 4-1 lead. Things got tight for the Centaurs in the top of the fifth inning when Peninsula opened with back-to-back doubles to cut the lead to 4-2.

With runners on first and third and one out Prieto and pitching coach Steve Fedor went to their bullpen. "Coach (Fedor) just said to me: "We need a groundball right here. Let's bring in Olmeda." I said: "Let's go. And Olmeda, one pitch, ground ball up the middle, 4-6-3, inning over. And that ended the threat in the inning," recalled Prieto.

"The defense came to play and that was a great situation. I believe we rolled four double plays in the series. The double play was huge for us to be successful in that game."

Olmeda pitched the final 2 2/3 innings to get the save, yielding one hit, forced Peninisula into two ground ball double plays and struck out one. The Centaur batters delivered two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jack Bickerton scored on Joaquin Hines' RBI single. Le then brought Hines home with a deep triple to right.

Offensively, Le was 3 for 4 with one RBI and two runs scored. Lucero was 2 for 4 with two RBI's and one run. Olmeda, Hines, Capa and Singh had hits. Bickerton, Hines and Singh also scored a run each. The team batted .333 with nine hits in 27 at-bats.

The second game against Peninsula was tied up 3-3 after five innings after Culver had taken and early 2-1 lead. Senior pitcher Benny Mosqueria started for the Centaurs and threw 2 2/3 innings with Capa throwing 1 1/3 innings of middle relief. Both pitchers gave up only one hit each but six combined walks helped Peninsula tie the score.

The Centaurs rallied in the bottom of the sixth inning when Tanner Duve led off with a double. With the steal sign on Duve got caught in a rundown but escaped and made it to third base. One out later Bickerton laid down a beautiful squeeze play bunt to score Duve and take the lead. Bickerton then scored the insurance run for a 5-3 edge that turned out to be the winning run.

Singh pitched the last three innings for the win, allowing one run in the seventh on two hits. He struck out six and walked three. Duve led the team in hits with three and runs with two. Bickerton was 2 for 3, one run scored and two RBI's. Le was 2 for 4 with one run and an RBI. Hines was 2 for 4 while Olmeda was 1 for 4 with a run scored.

Culver's 9-2 win over St. Bernard was the first of five games the team will play in the St. Paul Easter Tournament. They play Workman High on March 31, Ontario Christian on April 2, a team to be decided on April 3 and against St. Paul on April 4. The team opens their Ocean League schedule on April 10 at El Segundo High before hosting the rival Eagles two days later at Culver High.

"The varsity players will only have a few days off for Spring Break. At the higher level we can't take too many days off when we open with a powerhouse like El Segundo," said Prieto.

"If you look at all the teams we've played from summer to fall to winter and into the first tournament of the season our young players been put into the fire at times. There's really nothing that they haven't seen. So it's been something of a balanced approach throughout the off-season to prepare them for the upcoming season."


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