SAMOHI — It may just be two straight wins, but it’s a winning streak none the less.
Santa Monica High School’s baseball team has won consecutive games for the first time this season with a 4-1 victory over Oak Park at home on Tuesday. The win improves Samohi’s overall record to 3-12, but more importantly, it gives the Vikings a 2-1 record in the Babe Herman Tournament.
The pair of wins has the Vikings optimistic that they may be ready to put early season struggles behind them as they prepare for the Ocean League season, which begins next week.
For Head Coach Sheldon Philip-Guide, he doesn’t think that the team is doing anything differently, he believes the difference is more subtle.
“It’s all about attitude with these guys,” Philip-Guide said. “They want to show people that we’re not as bad as our record indicates.”
Aside from the better attitude, it doesn’t hurt when little-used players step up to make big contributions.
The Vikings were the beneficiaries of a steady performance by junior relief pitcher Matthew Franco, who was making just his second varsity appearance since being called up from JV two weeks ago. Franco entered the game to relieve senior starter Brandon Hirschberger with the Vikings up, 2-1.
The junior, who pitched three innings of scoreless relief, finished the day with four strikeouts and collected the win.
“I just tried to throw a lot of strikes,” Franco said. “But, my curve wasn’t on.”
Despite the strong play, Franco did walk a pair of batters in the fifth inning, putting runners at first and second with one out and the Vikings clinging to a 3-1 lead, but outfielder Alex Turner was able to end the scoring threat when he fielded a pop-up by Oak Park’s Conner McKenzie and promptly doubled up Chris Koch, who was caught lingering off the bag.
The flub of a scoring opportunity for Oak Park continues a trend for the Eagles.
“We had lots of chances,” Oak Park head coach Scott Hall said. “But, scoring has been tough for us all year.”
Franco wasn’t the only surprise player to contribute on Tuesday. Third baseman Albert Garcia entered the game in the fourth inning as well and finished the day with a pair of sacrifice fly balls that plated two runs.
Next for the Vikings is a home game today as part of the Babe Herman Tournament. The opponent hasn’t been decided. The game is scheduled to begin at 3:15 p.m.