With a group of tournament games condensed into a short time frame, Santa Monica High baseball coach Rob Duron brought up a couple of junior varsity pitchers to fill in.Both of them, Ethan Corn and Andrew Montinari, provided considerable help.Corn contributed five scoreless innings in relief as Samohi rallied from an early 4-0 deficit to defeat Taft, 6-5 in nine innings on Wednesday, March 11. Colter Johnson then came in and was the winning pitcher.Montinari pitched three strong innings in relief and was the winning pitcher in Samohi’s 4-3 victory over Newbury Park on Saturday, March 14.In between, Samohi lost to Royal High, 4-2 despite an outstanding five innings from senior Tyler Skaggs, who departed with a 1-0 deficit, the only run coming on a home run by a Royal infielder who has committed to play for Oregon next seasonWhile being closely watched by major league scouts, Skaggs struck out 12 batters before reaching a 70-pitch limit. Early in the season Duron is limiting the outings of all his starters to keep their arms strong for Ocean League games.Skaggs, considered a likely first round choice in the June draft, has struck out 18 natters and walked only two this season.The 6-foot-5 lefthander has a fastball which has been clocked at 93 mph.”Once league games begin we have just two games each week and then often a non-league game on Saturday,” said Duron. “I don’t have enough innings for the junior varsity pitchers, so I think it’s best they go back there and get a chance to pitch. But once they’ve been on the varsity they don’t always want to do that.”It’s a dilemma that goes along with having a lot of talent in the program.Duron expresses satisfaction with veterans Ricky Gomez and Logan Whitchurch.Gomez hit the ball that resulted in the winning run against Newbury Park, and the co-captain (along with Skaggs) had been a team leader. Whitchurch hsd two important sacrifice bunts in that game, the second one setting up the winning run.Samohi will stay active in tournaments, moving from the Southern California Invitational to the Redondo Tournament in the next two weeks.”We saw some outstanding teams from the Valley and now we’ll see some of the South Bay’s best programs, Mira Costa, Redondo, Banning and Palos Verdes,” said Duron.The game against Banning will start at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 21.The pro scouts call ahead to find out if Skaggs will pitch, and Duron says they haven’t been a distraction.”They stay where they should be. They’re professionals. I’m co-operating with them and giving them the information they require,” he said.
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