Mirror Sports Writer
Santa Monica High managed to split two games with Ocean League baseball leader Culver City last week and remains hopeful in its quest for a CIF playoff berth.
Entering the final two weeks of league competition Samohi has a 4-2 record, good for second place behind Culver City (5-1). Hawthorne, Morningside and Beverly Hills are 3-3, and the league is expected to have three teams in the playoffs. “We have to win our games to secure a playoff berth and hope someone beats Culver so we’d have a chance at first place,’’ said Coach Kevin Brockway.
“Considering our injury situation I’m happy we were able to split with Culver City. It shows how deep our team is and shows what might be possible if we’re healthy.’’
The latest member of the injured corps is centerfielder Dylan Early, the Vikings’ RBI leader. He hurt a knee in a recent non-league game against Loyola, was used as a designated hitter in the next game and wasn’t in the lineup in the last one. He appeared as a pinch hitter Thursday at Culver City, drew an intentional walk and was removed for a pinch runner. Santa Monica won that game, 5-1, after losing at home to Culver City two days earlier, 3-3. The first game was tied, 3-3, in the sixth inning when Samohi made errors that led to the defeat.
But Samohi beat Culver’s ace pitcher, Jeremy Burrell, in the second game. Burrell, who has thrown two no-hitters in his career, was out-dueled by Samohi junior Joe McGrew.
The game was tied in the sixth, 1-1, but this time Culver City cracked.
Garret Ramos singled, Diego Valdez doubled and Brian Eyler singled in the deciding run for the Vikings. Alex West singled in two more runs, Early drew his walk, Devon Ramirez singled and David Castellanos walked to force in another run.
“Chris Fiala isn’t right yet and we don’t have Early or Mike Schwartz,’’ said Brockway. “It’s been a season of injuries.’’
Fiala was expected to be Samohi’s best pitcher this season but he’s been troubled by an arm injury and didn’t start either showdown game against Culver City. Neal Pourory was the starter in Tuesday’s game.
Early’s return will depend on the results of an MRI exam. Schwartz hasn’t recovered from a season-long wrist injury and it isn’t known if he’ll be able to play this season.
In a positive development, left fielder Milan De Pillars is likely to play college baseball and is nearing a decision on which school he’ll choose.
Despite all its problems Samohi has a winning record. The team is 13-9-1.