In Kevin Brockway’s first season as the Santa Monica High baseball coach, a lot was accomplished.
After losing six of its first nine games Samohi swept through 10 Ocean League tests and won a CIF playoff game before losing in the second round last week, 8-7 at El Segundo.
Brockway and his players were left to wonder what might have been. Samohi had a 7-4 lead over perennially strong El Segundo before second baseman Johnny Huerta was out at the plate trying to score on a double. The momentum shifted and El Segundo scored the final four runs of the game.
The week before Samohi had outlasted an opponent in similar fashion by defeating Lompoc, 7-6. That day the Lompoc team had to take a long bus ride home following a narrow defeat. In the second round, it was Samohi’s turn to do the same.
In defeat, Samohi hit six doubles. Cody Decker had one and Dylan Early two. The game was a matchup of league champions — Samohi prevailing in the Ocean and El Segundo in the Pioneer.
But it isn’t always the league champion that succeeds in the playoffs. Culver City, which tied for second place in the Ocean, won its first two playoff games in shutouts.
Brockway focused on accomplishments when he addressed the team after the season.
“I pointed out to the younger guys what the seniors have meant to the program,’’ he said. “The standard has been set high.’’
An array of younger players will return, making it likely Samohi will be a contender in the league again next season. But Decker, who hit 11 home runs and ranked among the CIF leaders in RBI despite drawing 36 walks, will move on. He’s strongly considering UCLA.
Chris Fiala will return as a Samohi pitcher along with reliever Garret Griffin. Joe McGrew, who came within one out of a no-hitter for the Viking junior varsity, is another candidate.
Brockway will coach the Santa Monica American Legion team as longtime coach Billy Keep has moved to the valley and is coaching at Royal High. Decker and Viking pitcher Mike Walsh have indicated they will play.
Games are played at Sawtelle Field, UCLA’s home park.
The legion program is considering fielding a second team made up of younger players, with Dave and Al Montenari doing the coaching.
Brockway has some plans in mind to benefit the Samohi baseball program. One is to improve seating. He likes the concrete bleachers at the school’s softball park.
“The turnout at our home playoff game was outstanding and players respond to that support,’’ he said. “I accepted the job pretty late in the process before this season and couldn’t act on some ideas I had. But I’m intrigued by the potential. There’s open space behind the plate that could be used for additional seating.’’
Samohi finished with a 20-10 record.
Sophomores such as Early and Mike Schwartz provided a lot of help when they were inserted during the season. Milan Depillars, an outstanding rightfielder with a strong arm, showed some offensive production as he gained experience. The team was solid defensively and that’s something Brockway will expect every season.In a year when the baseball and softball teams went undefeated in the league and the boys volleyball team went on an upset run in the playoffs, the school’s spring sports calendar has been well filled.