In the three years Kevin Brockway has been the Santa Monica High baseball coach, El Segundo has been a major obstacle in its division.
However, Samohi broke through on Friday, May 25, eliminating El Segundo in a third round Division 4 playoff game, 3-0.
After Tyler Skaggs pitched 4 1/3 shutout innings and Diego Valdez hit a two-run homer Santa Monica was in the semifinals. Samohi hosted Northview of Covina on Tuesday, May 29, but the result was unavailable at press time.
The winner of that game will be in the finals Friday, June 1 at Dodger Stadium.
Skaggs, a tall lefthander, began the season as a promising sophomore who wasn’t in the starting rotation. But he progressed to the point where he was trusted to pitch a playoff game and earned his seventh win against one loss.
Paul Salazar, Samohi’s closer all season, came in and kept the shutout going. Then Casey Reese pitched the final inning.
Reese transferred in from Las Vegas this season with the reputation of being a hard-throwing pitcher. He suffered an arm injury and wasn’t supposed to pitch during the first month, but it turned out that he led the Vikings in hitting and didn’t pitch, leaving the closer role to Salazar. This was only his second inning of the season.
Bryan Eyler, Samohi’s RBI leader this season, hit a long single off the centerfield fence at El Segundo’s Recreation Park in the fourth inning, and Valdez followed with his homer over the centerfield fence.
Vince Lawrence and Devon Ramirez hit consecutive doubles with two outs in the seventh inning for the final run.
Jose Campos and Rayvelle Holsome both went three-for-three.
It was Samohi’s 23rd win of the season against nine losses. With a senior-dominated lineup, the Vikings expected to have considerable success.
But Samohi also had a strong team for two years when it met El Segundo in the playoffs and lost, 8-7.
El Segundo’s John Stevenson is a coaching legend. Earlier this season, he became the first high school baseball coach in California history to achieve 1,000 wins. With a proud tradition, El Segundo has had 32 seasons with 20 or more wins.
This team finished the season 20-13. It was not considered one of Stevenson’s better teams and early in the season had a 5-8 record. To his credit, he rallied the team into the playoffs, where it won two games, including an upset of fourth-seeded Rubidoux of Riverside in the second round.
Skaggs drew the Samohi pitching assignment because all-CIF senior Joe McGrew had worked a first round 5-0 victory over La Habra. Samohi’s next opponent, Northview, had eliminated Culver City, the Ocean League’s third place team, in the first round.