After starting the baseball season with four wins in five games against some of the best teams in the San Fernando Valley Santa Monica High traveled to the South Bay and stopped hitting.The Vikings lost at Mira Costa, 7-2, and then lost a Saturday night game on March 21 at Banning, 2-1.”We’re not hitting and we’ll get back to basics in practice,” said Coach Rob Duron. The pitching and defense are fine.”We played in the Fall League against some good pitchers and hitting didn’t seem to be a problem. But we’re in a slump now.”Duron said the team’s high early ranking will suffer and the Vikings won’t win the Redondo Tournament”While those would have been good on our record they weren’t our main goals,” he said. “Our goals are to win the Ocean League and be at our best for the CIF playoffs.”With those goals in mind Duron is keeping his pitchers on a pitch count. Senior Tyler Skaggs, who’s being watched closely by professional scouts, was limited to 70 at Banning.Skaggs worked five innings until he was replaced by Drew Hammond. “Tyler wasn’t quite as sharp as he was in a game against Royal High this season,” said Duron. “But that would have been hard to match. I’ve been watching high school baseball since I became an assistant coach at Westchester High in 1982 and that was the best pitching performance I’ve seen.”Not only did he strike out 12 batters in five innings the plate umpire rarely had to move. Every pitch was right where Tyler wanted it.”But several of the hitters are struggling and Samohi missed a chance to tie Banning when hot-hitting Ricky Gomez (.625 average) hit the ball hard but couldn’t get it past the second baseman after Vince Lawrence drove in the Vikings’ only run. Had the ball gone through, Lawrence would have scored from second.Earlier in the week Alonzo Gonzalez was the starting pitcher in the loss at Mira Costa.Once league play begins there’ll be a need for only two starting pitchers each week through the 10-game schedule. Skaggs will be one and Duron hasn’t decided who’ll be the other one.Samohi was 10-0 in the league last season with Paul Salazar and Skaggs doing the pitching. Salazar was a senior who began playing this season at West Los Angeles College but he recently left that team.
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