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Newcomers Lead Samohi in Baseball Wins:

After Santa Monica High won 24 baseball games last season, including the Ocean League championship, most of the players graduated and Coach Kevin Brockway resigned to become an assistant at West Los Angeles College.

 So it was reasonable to wonder how new coach Rob Duron would do and who’d be in the Vikings’ lineup.

 So far, so good, but Samohi fans have a batch of new names to learn.

 Samohi opened its 2008 season on Friday, February 29 in the Royal Tournament by defeating host Westchester High, 10-4. The next day, in the same tournament, Samohi went to Oxnard High and defeated a strong opponent, 4-3.

 Most of the key players had no varsity experience although some had been members of last year’s team.

 There were a couple of notable exceptions – the starting pitchers. Returnees Paul Salazar and Tyler Skaggs each worked the first four innings of their initial outings.

 Salazar emerged as Brockway’s closer last season and was Samohi’s most effective pitcher in a CIF championship game loss at Dodger Stadium. Before Brockway resigned he indicated that Salazar might be a starter this season.

 Duron says he hasn’t made many decisions, one reason being the team hasn’t had much practice time because the baseball field has been occupied by the Samohi soccer team. In addition, a scrimmage against Malibu which would have contributed to decision-making was rained out.

 But some newcomers made an impression on the opening weekend.

 Duron praised Matt Held for an important at-bat. Held fouled off several pitches and then drove in two runs with a single. He later made an outstanding play at shortstop.

 Matt Lamana pitched two innings against Westchester and Oscar Hernandez finished up. The relievers against Oxnard were Nick Lerner, who came out for baseball from the golf team, and Will Dickinson, who got the final out after Oxnard loaded the bases.

 Oxnard had defeated San Marcos in its opening game, 5-0.

 Samohi was scheduled to play Notre Dame High of Sherman Oaks Wednesday, March 5 in its home opener and will play two more tournament games March 7-8 at sites to be determined.

 Samohi will also play at Brentwood March 20.

 Four players from last season’s Samohi team have joined Brockway at West LA and Mike Walsh, who had a 7-0 record at Samohi two seasons ago, is also on the roster but has been injured and unable to pitch.

 Duron played at Westchester High and has had prior coaching experience, but most recently has been a teacher at Samohi without coaching.

 He says Beverly Hills High figures as one of the stronger teams this season in the Ocean League.

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