Culver Baseball Team Faces Tough Opponents

Culver City High baseball has opened the season with an impressive 13-2 record. Yet the Centaurs are ramping up their mid-season competition in preparation for an Ocean League title quest. This week the Centaurs will face two teams from San Fernando Valley before turning their attention towards a strong El Segundo squad next week.

"League is priority but what I like best is we're going to play two really good team this week," said Centaur head coach Rick Prieto. "If these two games don't prepare us for El Segundo, I don't know what will. The 15 games we played until now will not prepare us better than these two games."

"Calabasas and Chatsworth is going to be pretty challenging. Chatsworth is a perennial All-City baseball program. We play Calabasas this Wednesday and on Saturday, April 6, we travel to Chatsworth. I'm very happy that we're 13-2 but we still have a lot of work ahead of us."

The Centaurs suffered their first home and league loss to Lawndale High just before Spring Break began last week. The Cardinals upset Culver, 5-4, in extra innings to snap the Centaurs 10-game winning streak. Their only other loss was to Loyola High in the second of the season, 9-4.

Lawndale jumped to a 2-0 lead off Centaur starter Adrian Montenegro in the first inning. Culver City's Tanner Duve scored a run in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead in half. The Centaurs took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third inning when Barry Blocker and Duve both singled to lead off inning and eventually scored.

Lawndale regained the lead, 4-3, in the top of the fifth inning on a pass ball, a couple of errors, a sacrifice fly and an RBI single. The Centaurs tied it, 4-4, in the bottom of the fifth as Brenden Evans opened with a single and scored on Justin Roulston's sacrifice fly.

Prieto: "We had three opportunities to win the ballgame: sixth, seventh and eighth innings, runners on second base and we couldn't do it. Situation hitting. Battling. Less than two outs with a runner on second base, we got to get it done. Lawndale made the plays that needed to be made."

Lawndale scored the winning run in the top of the ninth inning off reliever Jake Glickman, who had retired the side the previous three innings. The Cardinals leadoff batter reached first on an error to right field, loaded the bases and scored on a sacrifice fly with one out for the winning run.

The Centaurs returned the favor two days later over the Cardinals. Trailing 1-0 going into the seventh inning, Culver City rallied for two runs and snatched away a last-inning victory at Lawndale for the second consecutive year. Last season the Centaurs scored the only run of the game in the top of the eighth inning.

Duve leads off with a base hit. Malik Clayton hit a soft groundball to shortstop that allowed Duve, who was stealing second, to reach second base with one out. Alonzo Reyes, who had pitched an outstanding game, doubled to left-center to tie the game, 1-1. James Roque then hit a shot down the right field line to score Alonzo to take a 2-1 lead.

"In the bottom of the seventh Lawndale's leadoff batter hit a shot to the five-six hole. I'm looking down the left field area and all of a sudden our third baseman, Jake Glickman, jumps up in a cloud of dust and throws a bullet across the diamond. Makes a great play for the first out," said Prieto.

"Their next batter was able to get it through the five-six hole. The next batter hits a routine grounder to my second baseman, game over. Nope. But Mason Le throws the runner out at first. With runners on first and second with two outs, Alonzo (Reyes) said enough is enough. Fastball. Fastball. Fastball. Game over. Strike three. What a relief."


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