SAMOHI — One down, nine to go.
Santa Monica baseball held on for a 5-4 win over Hawthorne at home Tuesday to open the 10-game Ocean League season on a winning note.
After cruising for five innings, starting pitcher Rudy Olmedo was pulled leading 5-1. Making his varsity debut, Greg Melick was able to record a one, two, three sixth inning. The problems came in the seventh.
Staring down a hungry Hawthorne lineup, Melick was hit hard and often giving up three runs before striking out Javier Martinez to end the rally.
“I love they way my guys compete,” Hawthorne head coach Jeff Hines said. “We’ve played [Samohi] tough in the past and this was no different.”
Across the diamond, Samohi head coach Kurt Schwengel felt the same about the rivalry.
“I don’t know what it is, but they always give us a hard time,” Schwengel said. “We hope this is the year they can knock off Culver City or Beverly Hills to help us out a bit”
Samohi, the No. 7 team in the latest CIF-Southern Section Division 3 poll, is the defending league champ, but Schwengel and Co. know that the season will most likely come down to them and Culver City. It came down to the final week last season when Samohi swept both games in the series to secure the league crown.
If Samohi (8-1 overall, 1-0 in league) is going to defend their title, it will most likely come down to its deep pitching staff.
Olmedo is considered the fourth or fifth starter and was able to handle Hawthorne handily. But, it didn’t come without a little drama.
The second inning saw Olmedo load the bases with no outs while holding a 2-0 lead. With the bases juiced, he was able to pick off Max Riley at third base and came back to strike out Mike Henderson and Cesar Esquivias to put the fire out.
“I was able to throw a lot of strikes,” Olmedo said. “That usually gets the job done.”
While Olmedo was the star on the mound, the offense was paced by senior Tomas Gutierrez.
He began the scoring with a two-RBI double in the bottom of the first after catcher Matt Kassowitz was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Gutierrez finished the day 3-for-3, with a run and two runs batted in.
He topped his day off leaving the baseball diamond to practice with a choir, Schwengel said.
Hawthorne and Samohi get it on again on Thursday, this time at Hawthorne.
“I hope we can play at the same level next time,” Hines said.
When asked, Schwengel grinned and said, “Let’s see what they throw at us on Thursday.”
The game begins at 3:15.