Throughout the season Santa Monica High baseball coach Rob Duron has searched for a starting pitcher to work Ocean League games in addition to senior star Tyler Skaggs.The problem was that nobody emerged.In recent games, however, the competition has become most interesting. Duron still hasn’t settled on the choice, but that’s because several candidates have made strong bids.When Samohi won two games out of three in the second week of April it lost the game Skaggs worked despite his six strong innings that included 12 strikeouts, and won the other two.Skaggs was outstanding in a non-league game against perennial power Crespi, which scored two unearned runs in the seventh against a Viking relief pitcher for a 4-3 win.Then Andrew Motinari pitched five strong innings in a 7-4 win over Western High of Anaheim and Alonzo Gonzalez went six innings in a 2-0 win over Chaminade, with relief ace Drew Hammond striking out the side in the seventh.The latter two games were played on the same day — the rarity occurring because of the Lions Tournament’s schedule conflicts. Samohi played in Anaheim on Saturday morning, April 11, and then had a late afternoon home game against Chaminade.Not only was Duron happy with the outings of Montinari and Gonzalez, he planned to add freshman outfielder Adam Padilla to the competition. Padilla, who has had a sore arm, has recovered and was scheduled to pitch against heavy-hitting Gahr High in a home non-league game on Monday, April 13.Padilla, who is hitting .300 while becoming one of the few freshman regulars at Samohi in the recent past, has a pitching history in youth baseball.”He pitched for us in the summer and did well,” said Duron. “We’ve seen what he can do.”The Vikings have played just two league games so far but will resume league competition on April 21 and 23 against Inglewood. Skaggs is scheduled to pitch a home game for the first time this season on Thursday, April 23 at 3:15 p.m. About 40 professional scouts who’ve been watching him regularly are likely to be present.”Tyler is under a lot of pressure but he’s handled it well,” said Duron.Skaggs, who plays first base when he isn’t pitching, got off to a slow start with the bat this season but has been doing better recently. He had two hits, including a double, against Western.In that game catcher Colter Johnson went three-for-four and shortstop Ricky Gomez was two-for-four, including a triple.At present Samohi has a 1-1 league record. It lost the game Skaggs started at Hawthorne and had an 8-7 win against the Cougars when Noah Tilipman was ineffective as the starting pitcher.Last season Samohi was 10-0 in the league with Skaggs and senior Paul Salazar each winning five starts.The oddity of the season is that Skaggs doesn’t have a win even though he’s expected to be a high choice in the June baseball draft. Skaggs has signed a letter of intent with Cal State Fullerton, but it hasn’t been determined if he’ll play college baseball or turn pro.His father, Darrell Skaggs, is a former professional ballplayer who attends every Samohi game. His mother, Debbie Skaggs, is the long-time Samohi softball coach. She is remarried to Dan Ramos, her assistant coach on the softball team. Both she and Ramos attend most Samohi baseball games and if there’s a conflict Ramos will occasionally coach the softball game.
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