Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Fred Altieri
Observer Reporter 

SHOWDOWN: CULVER VS. SANTA MONICA

 

Fred Altieri

A Culver celebration

The time is now for Culver City High baseball 2014 as it prepares for its annual two-game Ocean League series with archrival Santa Monica High in the league's final week of play.

Once again the league championship will go to the victor as it has been for the greater part of the past two decades-plus. Only this time the Centaurs, with a current 7-1 league record, need to win both games as they trail the Vikings, undefeated at 8-0, by 1/2 game in the standings.

Culver was fine-tuning its operation as the team carpooled to Sherman Oaks last Friday for a very rare night game against Notre Dame High on an uncommonly cool, breezy and clear May evening.

Again, it was an impressive performance by the Centaur pitching staff combined with fine defensive plays before falling in extra innings, 3-1, when the last pitch cleared the left field wall in the bottom of the eighth inning.

The two-run walk-off home run by the Knights accentuated the season-long Achilles' heel for the Centaurs: the failure to take advantage of scoring opportunities. This time the bases were loaded with one out in the top of the same eighth before another hard hit ball up the middle was converted into a rally-killing double play. Nonetheless, Culver is vying for another league title and has finished in first or second place for at least the past 10 years.

The fact that the Centaurs have been playing the greater part of the season without their five seniors, four whom are currently unable to play due to injury is a testament to the program's resiliency and prioritized pitching and defensive structure.

Two-time All-Ocean League shortstop Darian Sylvester is one of those seniors who will return to the lineup against Santa Monica as a designated hitter.

Sylvester, a three-year veteran of this classic annual Westside baseball rivalry, gave his pre-series thoughts: "The SaMo series is a rivalry. A heated rivalry. They talk smack. We

 

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