Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Boys Baseball Scores Well in Tournament

Drops Final Game to Chaminade

 

February 27, 2020

George Laase

Shortstop, freshman Jonathan Mendez throws a runner out at first.

The Centaur baseball season is off to another fine start despite losing the 2020 SoCal Invitational tournament Championship game on a comfortable Tuesday afternoon, February 25, at Culver City High. Chaminade High Eagles captured the title, beating the Centaurs, 4-1, in a game where pitching dominated and fielding errors mattered.

"Throughout the tournament we played really good defense, we pitched well and had timely hitting. That was the key to getting us to the game here. And I think that's the way it's going to be all-year long," said Centaur head coach Rick Prieto, following the Chaminade game.

"We didn't play very good defense today. We walked a few players and that doesn't really help. Coach Fedor (Steve, pitching) said it best: "One-run inning is not bad but when you give up a three-run inning, especially in a tight ballgame like this, it tends to slip a little. And that's what I think happened today."

The Centaurs won their first four games of the season, all coming in the SoCal Invitational tournament. They shutout Verdugo Hills High, 5-0, to open the tournament on Saturday, February 15. Three days later they beat Buena High, 4-1, took a 3-1 lead after the first inning and never looked back. Jonathan Mendez, Malik Clayton, Alonzo Reyes and team captain Joaquin Hines scored for the Centaurs.

On February 20, Culver City outlasted Pacifica High in Oxnard, 6-4. The Tritons led 4-2 after two innings, with both runs scored by the Centaurs leadoff batter, Tanner Duve. The Centaurs tied it up in the fourth inning when Duve doubled and scored, followed by Mendez' single and scored run.

The game was won in the seventh inning as Reyes walked, was sacrificed by Hines, Tommy Peacock singled in Reyes. Dylan Singh drove in Peacock with a single for the insurance run. "At times we'll break out and score a lot more runs than two or three runs. I'm looking forward to this team doing really well this season," said Prieto.

Culver City beat Palisades Charter High at home last Saturday morning, 6-1, in a 10:00 a.m. starting time. Duve scored three runs for the second consecutive game as the Centaurs took a commanding 5-0 lead into the sixth inning. Justin Roulston, Reyes and Singh also scored. Starting pitcher Alonzo Reyes was in complete control of the Dolphin bats, scattering four hits through six innings for the win. Roman Carrillo mopped up the seventh in relief.

Prieto on starting Dylan Singh in the Championship game against Chaminade: "Our whole approach before Spring is to develop Dylan Singh. He has a good fastball and his off-speed's good. We haven't had him pitch in the last three years, so we're trying to get him more innings as we get going into the season early. Because he could be possibly our number two."

"But (Justin) Hurst came in today and did very well. So even if Dylan is our number two, the next guy's our number three and we play three games a week. We're going to be in pretty good shape. But we need both of them to compliment Alonzo Reyes, who's basically our number one now."

Chaminade grabbed a second-inning, 1-0 lead, against Singh. The Eagle leadoff runner reached first base on an error and later scored on a throwing error to third base. Culver threatened in the second inning when Reyes led off with a double, but was stranded. The Eagles scored three more runs in the top of the fourth inning with two outs. The first run scored on a sacrifice fly. The second two runs scored on consecutive walks with the bases loaded.

"When we're playing these types of really good teams, it's important that we play up which we've been doing for years. But this was a big game. We can't afford to go two hits and four errors and expect to win a ballgame. However, we did have a chance to capitalize two different innings," said Prieto.

George Laase

Senior Alonzo Reyes takes the pick-off throw at first base.

The Centaurs made things interesting in the fourth inning, loading the bases with one out. Hines drove in Mendez with a sacrifice fly. But then the rally ended with a groundout to shortstop, denying a golden opportunity. Both teams failed to manufacture a hit or run for the final three innings, as the Eagles secured the tournament title.

"I told my players: "Those are the situations if we're going to beat championship teams like this, we have to come through." And the great thing about this is that we get to play LaSalle Tuesday, March 3. We get a chance to redeem ourselves."

Prieto jumped at the opportunity to schedule an early-season game against an excellent baseball program like LaSalle High from Pasadena: "When I saw it come up on the coaches directory looking for a game, I said: "Let me see, March 3. We are available." And then we have Windward on the 6th, that Friday. So it will be a good week for us."

 

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