Culver High: Good Start, But...

Culver City High baseball entered last week’s 2018 Ocean League season with an 11-2 preseason record. The impressive start was due to reliable pitching backed up by strong fielding and balanced by a productive offense. Unfortunately the Centaur bats went silent in the two-game league series against defending league champs, El Segundo High.

The Centaurs opened up with a very tough 4-2 road loss to the Eagles on Tuesday, April 10. Two days later they suffered their worst defeat of the year, an 8-0 shutout at home. Two years ago Culver swept the two-game series against El Segundo on their way to a perfect 10-0 record and the league title. This year the Centaurs are already facing an uphill battle to finish in the top three.

Culver’s prospects looked good after taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning at El Segundo. Andrew Olmeda singled and was driven home by Mason Le, who delivered the first pitch for a standup double. Joaquin Hines drove in Le with a two-out single. That would be the extent of the scoring for the Centaurs for the rest of the week.

The Eagles got one run back in the bottom of the first with a walk, single and sacrifice. They tied the game at 2-2 in the second inning on a double and two passed balls. The game remained tied for the next few innings as Culver pitching starter Adrian Montenegro kept El Segundo at bay. Eagle starter Jaime Galicia, was just as effective, striking out nine Centaur batters in the first five innings.

The bottom of the fifth inning was the turning point when Culver had a rare defensive lapse. With Olmeda pitching in relief, El Segundo put a runner on second with no outs. A groundball and throwing error to first base sent the runner towards home. An alert Hines, backing up first base, threw the ball to catcher James Roque who tagged the runner out in a bang-bang play at the plate.

That seemed to kill the Eagle rally but a single and a two-out flyball to right field was misjudged. The ball dropped in and the throw home was late, allowing two runners to score. With the sudden momentum shift the Centaur offense failed to put a runner on in their last two at-bats. In fact, the last 16 batters were retired in order sealing Culver’s fate.

Offensively, Culver High totaled five hits in 25 at-bats from five batters: Olmeda, Le, Tanner Duve, Hines and Dylan Singh. Montenegro and Olmeda gave up four hits total, walked five and hit one batter. The defense committed two errors. El Segundo starting pitcher Galicia dominated with a complete game, 5-hit, 15-strikeout victory.

The Centaur hitting slump continued into Thursday’s afternoon shutout loss at Culver High. Jake Glickman started and pitched four innings for Culver. El Segundo got a run in the first inning after two outs with a triple and an error. They scored two more in the third inning on three singles and a sacrifice for a 3-0 lead.

Meanwhile, the Centaur offense managed three walks but no hits and runs in the first thee innings. Hines finally got their first hit with a leadoff single in the fourth inning. A pickoff, strikeout and fly to center left them scoreless. Benny Mosqueria relieved Glickman in the fifth inning and pitched the final three innings for Culver. The Eagles made it 4-0 in the fifth on a double and a couple of sacrifices.

Dylan Singh got a single in the sixth inning but was stranded on a fly to right and a grounder to short. El Segundo opened the floodgates in the seventh inning with four runs. An error, passed ball, wild pitch, two walks, sacrifice fly and hits batter accounted for the scoring. The Centaurs went down in order in the seventh and final inning.

Culver High is currently tied for fourth place in the Ocean League at 0-2 with Hawthorne High and Lawndale High. El Segundo, Santa Monica High and Beverly Hills High are tied for first, each with 2-0 records. The Centaurs play Lawndale in their two-game series this week. They play Hawthorne, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills respectively in the following three weeks to round out the 2018 league schedule.


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