SAMOHI — Nothing like a good old fashioned rivalry to make for interesting baseball.
Down 7-6 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Santa Monica High School rallied for three runs in the frame to steal a win from Beverly Hills on Tuesday on campus. The win gives Samohi a perfect 6-0 record in Ocean League play, good for a tie with Culver City atop the standings. Beverly Hills falls to 3-4 in league, yet clings to third place and a chance to make it to the playoffs.
Junior Adam Padilla again was key for the Samohi Vikings. The outfielder delivered in the clutch during that sixth-inning rally with a two-RBI single to center field that gave the Vikings a three-run cushion. But, the play wasn’t without controversy.
With one out and two runners on base, Padilla appeared to be hit in the foot by a pitch from Beverly Hills starter Charlie Bennett. Padilla trotted down to first base, but the umpires huddled after the play ultimately deciding that the ball hit the dirt before striking Padilla. The junior returned to the plate and calmly slapped an outside fast ball to center to secure the victory.
“I was ready to take one for the team,” Padilla said of the play. “But I was happy for the second opportunity.”
Samohi’s late-game heroics aside, the Vikings actually struck first with three runs in the first inning. That lead was short lived as Beverly Hills scored four runs off starter Andrew McRitchie in the second inning. In fact, Beverly Hills’ lead would have been 5-3 had Sam Mason stepped on the plate scoring what appeared to be the first run of the inning. Samohi catcher Lino Lares protested the run, with the umps agreeing that Mason didn’t touch the plate.
Despite the questionable calls by the officials, neither coach went as far as to say that the umpires were off their game.
“At least the calls were consistent is all I’ll say,” Samohi head coach Sheldon Philip-Guide said. “It seemed to go both ways.”
Aside from being league rivals, the game had an added dimension that bred familiarity.
Samohi relief pitcher Albert Garcia was pitching against his teammates from a year ago. The first-year transfer from Beverly Hills relieved McRitchie in the sixth inning. He walked the first batter he faced, ultimately allowing Jason Ross to score the then go-ahead run, but settled down to stop the bleeding. He benefited from the late rally and collected the win after pitching a one-two-three seventh inning.
“It meant a little something extra to do it against my old friends,” Garcia said.
The two teams don’t have long to wait until the rematch. The teams are scheduled to meet at La Cienega Park in Beverly Hills on Thursday. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Beverly Hills head coach Vonzie Paysinger isn’t sure who will start on the mound, but Philip-Guide already has a hurler in mind. Tuesday’s hero Padilla will get the nod and is looking forward to throwing under the lights for the first time this season.
“Adam is a proven vet,” Philip-Guide said. “He’s my guy who I don’t mind pitching in hostile environments.
“He knows how to get it done in different situations.”