St. Paul Easter Baseball Tournament

Culver City High Takes Third Place

Spring Break 2018 served Culver City High baseball well. The Centaurs won four of five games to earn third place in the 24-team St. Paul Easter Tournament. The Centaurs will take their successful 11-2 pre-league record heading into Ocean League action beginning this week with a two-game series against the always-tough El Segundo High Eagles.

The game of the tournament was Culver’s thrilling extra-inning come-from-behind 7-6 victory over Ontario Christian High. The win propelled them into the semifinal game of the St. Paul Tournament, held in conjunction with Downey High. The Centaurs scored two runs to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning before pushing across the deciding run in the ninth.

“We were pretty excited to play them as they were ranked #1 as a Division 5 CIF school. They were pretty good club and it was a good game across the board,” said Culver Head Coach Rick Prieto.

“Both teams had a couple of hits early on and we got a 3-1 lead. They tied it up at 3-3 on a base hit that ricocheted from going left to right. It ended up being a triple with two runs scored. But we kept battling.”

Freshman pitcher Adrian Montenegro started the game for Culver and was tagged for two runs in the opening inning. The Centaurs tied the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the second inning. Nick Lucero opened with a walk, Tanner Duve singled and Shaun Hough got hit by a pitch to load the bases for Andrew Olmeda’s two-RBI single.

Ontario threatened in the third inning but senior Bobby Capa came up clutch in relief to get the final out, covering first on an infield grounder. Culver City took a brief 3-2 lead in the bottom of third as Joaquin Hines singled, reached third on a passed ball and an error, and scored on Lucero’s infield grounder.

Ontario Christian tied it at 3-3 in the fourth inning but Culver immediately regained the lead. Hough singled to open the bottom of the fourth and scored on Dylan Singh’s RBI single. Olmeda came into relieve Capa on the mound in the fifth inning. The Knights rallied for three runs in the top of the sixth on a one-out triple and a sacrifice fly.

The Centaurs urgently rallied for two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Hough singled and stole second base. With two outs Malik Clayton walked, setting up Singh’s double bringing home both runners to tie the score at 6-6. Ontario threatened in the seventh with two runners but failed to score with a pop fly out to second base.

“They had two walks in a row in the eighth inning with no outs. They tried to sacrifice but the bunt went straight up and our catcher, Malik Clayton, caught it. That was huge. Then they hit into a 4-6-3 double play, tailor-made as tailor can be,” said Prieto describing the extra-innings excitement.

“Ontario opened with a base hit and a hit batter. A sacrifice bunt moved them over to second and third with one out. But they weren’t able to score because their next batter hit the ball to our third baseman. The runner on third went on contact and we threw him out at home.”

“Mason Le led off with a base hit in the bottom of the ninth. He was able to get to second base on a wild pitch and was able to take third on a passed ball. One out later a sacrifice fly to right by Duve. The throw home was a good throw but offline slightly. Game over.”

Culver City opened the St. Paul Tournament with a win 9-2 win at St. Bernard High in Playa del Rey. Playing the remaining games of the tournament at Downey High the Centaurs beat Workman High 10-0 on March 31. Freshmen Jake Glickman, Jack Bickerton and sophomore Benny Mosqueria combined for 2-hit shutout victory.

The Centaur batters rapped out 14 hits including triples by James Roque, Lucero and Duve. Two days later the Ontario Christian win put them into the semifinal game against Norwalk High. Culver took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning on Duve’s single and Hines’ sacrifice fly.

Norwalk tied the game at 1-1 before opening the game up by scoring three runs in the fourth inning on five hits with two outs. The Centaurs made it a one-run game with two runs in the sixth inning. Mason Le, Lucero and Duve got three consecutive singles to score the first run. Hines’ RBI two-out single knocked in Lucero for the second score.

Norwalk added two insurance runs in the seventh inning to secure a spot in the title game against Covina High. Covina won the tournament with a 2-0 victory over Norwalk. Culver City took out Garfield High 5-2 for third place.

“It was a close game against Garfield but I made a point to the players that we won but there are still some things we have to think about. Garfield had bases loaded twice due mainly to walks and hit batters,” said Prieto.

“Defensively, we rolled six double plays in the tournament. We were on fire in double plays and overall the defense played very well. We were able to get into situations that could have changed the game in a negative way. But our pitchers threw strikes, the defense came up and made the plays.”

“Leading up to league I see a lot of positive strives in our defense, offense and timely pitching. The schedule allowed us to gel. We were able to get some wins under our belt and get some quality pitching and hits overall throughout the 13 games to prepare us for the league opener.”


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