A couple of wins won’t solve all problems encountered by the Santa Monica High baseball team this season but it’s a good start.
Samohi, which had lost nine of 13 non-league games, began its Ocean League schedule by sweeping Hawthorne at the end of March, 13-0 and 4-3.
After the Vikings’ pitchers had combined for only one complete game in non-league play, both Paul Salazar and Tyler Skaggs went the distance.
Salazar threw the shutout and Skaggs was especially strong in the final two innings of the rematch, when Samohi overcame a 3-1 deficit.
Previously, the staff’s only complete game was pitched by Logan Whitchurch.
“I was being cautious with the pitchers’ arms,” explained Coach Rob Duron. “I don’t want to overwork anyone. We want them strong later in the season and I’m considering their welfare for the future too.”
However, Duron said Salazar and Skaggs will likely start most of the league games. The coach has other options but has reached the conclusion the two returnees from last season’s league champions give the Vikings their best chance for success.
Whitchurch, a transfer from Crespi High, has settled in as the third baseman.
Duron who became head coach this season after Kevin Brockway resigned to become an assistant at West Los Angeles College, is still learning about his players.
Last season’s catcher, Vince Lawrence, has moved to the outfield. Returnee Alex Kovacs and Colter Johnson, up from the junior varsity, are dividing catching duties.
There’s also a Designated Hitter in high school baseball and, one way or another, Johnson’s bat will be in the lineup. He has home run power and hit a key triple in the comeback against Hawthorne.
The last few years Samohi, Culver City, and Beverly Hills have been the league’s best teams. Hawthorne, Inglewood, and Morningside have comprised the second division.
“We don’t take anyone lightly,” said Duron. “It would be a mistake to do that. We took out some frustration in the first game against Hawthorne but had to scrap to win the second one.
“They had a guy, A.J. Perry, who’s a fine ballplayer. He hit a home run against us and was tough as a pitcher.”
But Samohi came out on top in the second game, which was played at Hawthorne, and perhaps gained some important momentum.
The Vikings don’t play league games in the week beginning April 7. They’ll play at Bell Gardens and Peninsula, and Matt Lamana is expected to pitch one of the games.