SAMOHI — Through four innings, the Santa Monica Vikings were cruising. Then came the top of the fifth.
Inglewood entered the frame down 8-1 and a Samohi Ocean League victory seemed imminent on Tuesday at home. That’s when Inglewood awoke to rally for four runs that made it a ball game again. Inglewood had the opportunity for more, but Jaelin James grounded out against relief pitcher Tyler Mulvaney with the bases loaded that gave Samohi a still comfortable 8-5 lead.
“[Mulvaney] kind of struggled a little bit at first,” Samohi catcher Lino Lares said. “But, I told him that we have the lead, just settle down a bit.”
Samohi would tack on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth that secured the team’s 3-0 start in league play.
Despite allowing the Inglewood short-lived rally, it was the Vikings’ offense that won the day.
The Vikings came out swinging in the first inning. Lares began the rally by reaching on an error, putting Japanese transfer Nobu Suzuki in the perfect opportunity to continue his clutch hitting. On cue, Suzuki laced a double into left field, scoring Lares for the game’s first run. Suzuki would later score on senior Adam Padilla’s RBI single to center field.
The second inning was much like the first, but even more explosive for Samohi.
Alex Turner got things going by reaching on a wild pitch following a strike out. He promptly stole second base giving Lares the opportunity to drive in another Samohi run.
“I was trying to be patient,” Lares said. “[Inglewood starter James Cathey] was hitting his spots.”
Lares slapped a fast ball to left field for a double, pushing Turner across the plate. Suzuki followed with a walk. The first-year Viking would later score another run during the five-run rally, putting Samohi up 7-1.
“They are an outstanding team,” Inglewood head coach Tracy Cathey Sr. said of Samohi. “Good coaching staff, they always compete.”
The Samohi win sets up a rematch at Inglewood on Thursday. Cathey Sr. isn’t sure who will take the mound, but Samohi has already selected Johnny Barry to start.
Samohi head coach Sheldon Philip-Guide called Barry a crafty hurler who locates his pitches well. He picked the senior to start as Samohi prepares to play four games between now and next Tuesday.
The Vikings will start Padilla on Saturday as part of the ongoing Redondo Tournament. Their opponent has not been announced. Connor Green will most likely throw on Monday against Torrance in the finale of the Babe Herman Tournament.
Philip-Guide had to juggle his rotation for the coming week to keep his starters fresh. In all, Samohi will start four different players including Matthew Franco, who started on Tuesday against Inglewood.
“My guys are pretty experienced,” Philip-Guide said. “That helps in situations like these.”