SAMOHI — It’s obvious a pitcher is good when he shuts out his opponent through six innings and all anybody could talk about after the game was how off he was.
Santa Monica High School’s Tyler Skaggs, making his first home start of the season, made short work of Inglewood during a 7-0 Ocean League win, but it wasn’t without a few miscues by the highly-touted pro prospect.
With a group of nearly 20 pro and college scouts in attendance, Skaggs allowed just three hits while striking out nine batters, but it was control that kept the game close for much of the afternoon. He limited Inglewood to just one walk, but he provided the Sentinels ample scoring opportunities by hitting four batters.
“I didn’t have my best stuff,” Skaggs said after the game while raking the mound. “I just didn’t have the feel.”
Skaggs, who is now 2-2 on the season, began the game strong by striking out leadoff hitter Crosby Lanahm. The second man he faced grounded out to shortstop Ricky Gomez, but that’s when Skaggs began to struggle with his control. He hit the next man up, Rena Saucedo. Facing what could have been a rocky first inning, Skaggs bailed himself out by picking off Saucedo at first.
The Vikings’ offense was slow out of the gate with Inglewood’s Kalvin McCoy allowing no runs through one frame. It was the second inning that gave the sophomore a bit of trouble.
Samohi catcher Colter Johnson got the rally started with a hard single to right field. Logan Whitchurch followed with a near-perfect bunt down the third base line, beating out the throw for a single. First baseman Michael Alonge, with a pair on, promptly hit a bloop single to left field loading the bases.
With the bases juiced and one out, Phillip Dove hit a line drive to first for the second out. Drew Hammond followed, with the bases still loaded, and hit what appeared to be a playable grounder to second that got the best of Inglewood’s Ramone Salazar, scoring Johnson on the play. The run proved to be all that Samohi would need to earn the victory.
“It was a bit of an off day for us,” Samohi Head Coach Rob Duron said. “We battled back and fought through it.”
His team may have tacked seven on the scoreboard, but Duron wasn’t very happy about how the game played out. While he was pleased that his team beat Inglewood for the second time in three days, he did point out that his squad won despite a few miscues both at the plate and in the field.
He praised Skaggs’ workman-like effort and said that it’s the little things that make a good player a great one.
“If it were easy, everybody could do it,” Duron said. “But, in baseball, it doesn’t always go that way.
“We did what we needed to do.”
On the other side of the diamond, Inglewood’s Head Coach Craig Hackett was proud that his injury-depleted team battled what many consider one of the top pitchers in Southern California.
“My boys showed lots of heart,” Hackett said. “We’re starting to show some promise.”
He singled out his hitters’ ability to make Skaggs work for every out.
The fourth inning proved to be Inglewood’s best chance to score. Saucedo began the inning by slapping a double down the left field line. Daniel Rendon followed and was promptly beaned by Skaggs putting runners at first and second with no outs. Skaggs was then charged with a balk, moving both runners into scoring position.
Johnson took little time deciding to make a trip to the mound to calm the struggling starter. Skaggs responded by striking out fellow pitcher McCoy.
With one down, Skaggs plunked Joseph Somera early in the count loading the bases. Facing what could have been a Sentinel rally, Skaggs induced Trinidad Loeza to hit a grounder back to the box resulting in an inning-ending double play.
Skaggs followed a shaky fourth inning by striking out two batters in both the fifth and sixth innings.
Closer Drew Hammond pitched a scoreless seventh inning by striking out the side. His lone mistake was a walk to Loeza. With the scoreless effort, Hammond has yet to allow a single run in eight-and-two-thirds innings. In that span, he has allowed just one hit and struck out 20 batters.
“I just try to stay calm,” Hammond said of his approach on the mound. “I try to keep it light by cracking jokes when I’m out there.”
With the win, Samohi is now 11-10 overall and 3-1 on the season. Next up for the Vikings is a home game against Ventura on Saturday at 11 a.m. The matchup will be the fifth and final game of the Redondo Tournament.