If it would have happened in a crucial league game or a playoff game, it would have been a crushing setback.
Instead, when the Santa Monica High baseball team lost at Westlake Saturday, 6-5 it qualified as a disappointment and an opportubity to learn from its mistakes.
It’s never pleasant to surrender a 5-0 lead, especially to a highly rated opponent. It’s also never pleasant to enter the final inning with a 5-3 lead and lose through a series of misplays, without the ball leaving the infield.
But at least it happened in a March non-league game, leaving plenty of games and practices to correct fielding flaws.
“We need to fix the little things,” said Coach Sheldon Philipo-Guide. “It was a tough loss.
The defeat overshadowed some positive developments. After starting the season slowly, the Viking hitters have responded and the team was three outs away from winning for the third straight time. Samohi had scored seven runs in each of the last two games, which were wins over San Luis Obispo and Mira Costa.
Philip-Guide praised the hitting of Dex Boney, Nick Becerra and David Tyre-Vigil, the latter who played on the junior varsity last season.
Although the overall record is 2-5 the Vikings have taken command of recent games.
“Now we have to learn to close then out,” said the coach.
Philip-Guide comtinues to evaluate his pitching staff. He had Ethan Corn and Andrew Montinari working in relief at Westlake.
It’s a different group of players and a new coach frrom last season. Now it’s becoming clearer where the emphasis should be in practices, as players not used to being in crucial situations can make quick decisions on where a throw should go, how a tag should be made — little things that decide games.
“We showed we can be competitive against a very good team,” said Philip-Guide.
Westlake is probably better than anyone in the Ocean League. It is the type of team Samohi would see in the CIF playoffs. In his first season as coach, Philip-Guide is preparing the team for that level of competition, even if a painful loss is part of the process.
Samohi will travel to Knight High in the Lancaster area Wednesday, March 24 and will play an 11 a.m. home game Saturday against Palisades, which has won the LA City Section’s Western League six straight years.
Mirror Sports Editorsports@smmirror.com