The Santa Monica High baseball schedule has featured quality opponents so far, with very few home games.Playing good teams on their fields, or in tournaments, the Vikings won four of their first five games, and then lost four in a row.Samohi thrived against the best teams from the San Fernando Valley, and then crashed when it went to the South Bay. The Vikings lost twice to Mira Costa and once to Banning and Peninsula.The most recent games were a 7-2 loss at Mira Costa, an 8-0 loss at Peninsula in which Samohi had only two hits and a 9-3 home loss to Mira Costa on Saturday, March 28.”We’ll play anyone, anytime, anywhere,” said Coach Rob Duron. “We want to prepare for our league games and playoff games, which are usually against strong teams and sometimes on their fields.””What if we’re sent on a long trip in the playoffs? At least we’ll have been through something like that.”The Vikings were scheduled for their first two Ocean League games on March 31 and April 2 against Hawthorne, which has an 8-2 non-league record.Tyler Skaggs, Samohi’s senior pitcher who’s being watched closely by professional scouts, was scheduled to pitch at Hawthorne on March 31. Duron hasn’t yet found his second starter despite numerous experiments and as the week began wasn’t ready to announce his choice for Thursday’s home game.After the Hawthorne games the experimenting will continue as Samohi will be in another tournament before playing more league games.The starting pitchers in the two most recent games were Colter Johnson and Greg Alonge; neither had a strong outing.But Duron recently has been more concerned about the lack of hitting.”It was a little better in the last Mira Costa game,” he said. “We cut down on our strikeouts and hit some balls hard that were caught.”Shortstop Ricky Gomez leads the Vikings in hitting with a .517 average (15 for 29). Centerfielder Vince Lawrence is batting .310 and right fielder Logan Whitchurch .308.Last season was Duron’s first after he replaced Kevin Brockway, who became an assistant at West Los Angeles College. The Vikings had approximately the same non-league record as now, then went 10-0 in league games.The difference was that team had Paul Salazar, a senior who was established as the second starting pitcher. Salazar and Skaggs won all their league starts.Among other candidates to earn the job now are Alonzo Gonzalez, Ethan Corn and Noah Tillipman. It also could be Whitchurch, who is extremely valuable at other positions.Duron has an easier task selecting a closer. Senior Drew Hammond has done well in that role.As for position players, Adam Padilla has been playing left field. It’s unusual for a freshman to be a regular at Samohi but Padilla is the exception.
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