Aggressive Playing Wins for Culver City High Baseball Team

Culver City High swept their two-game series from Hawthorne High with a pair of 11-1 victories at home and away. The race for the 2018 Ocean League baseball title is heating up, with two weeks remaining before CIF Playoffs begin.

The two wins placed the Centaurs with a 4-2 record in the league standings behind leader El Segundo High (6-0) and Santa Monica High (5-1) and just ahead of Beverly Hills High at 3-3. Culver High plays a two-game series against Santa Monica this week before wrapping up league with Beverly Hills the following week.

"We played aggressive baseball against Hawthorne. Those two games were the most aggressive we ran the bases," said Culver Head Coach Rick Prieto. "That allowed us to put their defense in situations where they had to play catch. And they were not able to successfully play catch throughout, from relays to plays at home plate a couple of times."

"And we ran and that's something we always encourage our players to do. You put the defense in a situation where they have to come up throwing. Sometimes it's a little pressure on them and the ball may not go where it's supposed to go."

Centaur starter Adrian Montenegro pitched a five-inning complete game and threw very well in Tuesday's home contest. The freshman gave up one earned run, three hits, struck out five and walked two to run his won-loss record to 5-0 this season. He has a stingy 1.57 ERA in 35.2 innings pitched to date.

The Centaurs scored in each inning. Mason Le drilled a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. In the second Tanner Duve singled, Shawn Hough walked to lead off the inning. Jake Glickman sacrificed Duve home and Hough scored on a passed ball for a 3-0 lead.

Prieto: "We got a lot of hits. They walked a couple but it was the aggressiveness on the bases that allowed us to score a lot of runs. So I was happy with the way our guys swung the bat."

Joaquin Hines walked in the third inning and was driven home by Duve's triple. Duve scored on an error for a 5-0 lead. Hawthorne scored their only run in the fourth inning with a walk and a two-out RBI single to prevent the shutout. Culver retaliated in the bottom of the fourth with three more runs as they sent nine batters to the plate.

James Roque opened with a double, Glickman walked, Dylan Singh and Mason Le both hit back-to-back RBI singles and later scored on Hines' sacrifice fly and a passed ball. The Centaurs added three more runs in the fifth inning. Roque and Oliver Frye got on base and were driven home with Barry Blocker's RBI double. Le's double drove in Blocker to end the ballgame.

"Jake Glickman threw the second game. We were able to get Dylan Singh an inning in Thursday's game and Benny (Mosqueria) as well. So they both got a chance to get on the mound," said Prieto. "When our two starters are rolling and pitching well we definitely want to give them four innings and possibly a fifth if needed."

Thursday's game at Hawthorne on April 26 went six innings. The Centaurs scored in five of the six innings on 13 hits while driving in all 11 runs. They took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Le doubled, Hines walked and both were driven in by Nick Lucero's 2-RBI double.

Le opened the third inning with a single, stole second and was driven in by Hines' single. Duve got his second triple of the week to drive in Hines. Andrew Olmeda singled home Duve for a 5-0 lead. Hawthorne scored their run in the bottom of the third with a walk and a sacrifice.

Culver scored a run in the fifth on a single and a stolen base by Bobby Capa and an RBI single by Lucero. They made the score 11-1 in the sixth inning with Duve and Olmeda scoring on Hough's 2-RBI single. The Centaurs had seven extra base hits in the two-game series, batted .315 and drove in 20 of 22 runs.

"Give a lot of credit to Hawthorne. Both pitchers went up there and they threw the baseball. We were just able to make a lot of contact and got some big hits," said Prieto.

Glickman pitched four innings, giving up one earned run, three hits, struck out two and walked one for his fifth victory of the season. His record is 5-2 with a 2.86 ERA, putting the freshman among the league's leading pitchers. Singh pitched the fifth inning in relief while Mosqueria closed out the game in the sixth.

This week's upcoming series with archrival Santa Monica High more likely will determine who takes second place in the Ocean League. The pressure on SaMoHi is underscored by the fact that they face undefeated El Segundo twice in the last week of the season. The pressure on Culver is being able to take two from the Vikings to move into second place to ensure a playoff spot two weeks from now.

"We have a huge series coming up against SaMo. I love the situation in league standings," concluded Prieto before Saturday's practice. "Today we called an early practice because we have the Challengers program and then a double header at 1:00 and 3:00 with the frosh/soph team. So we're here in the early morning going to work."


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