Santa Monica High School senior catcher Cody Decker compared his baseball team’s nine-run effort in the fourth inning against Inglewood High School Thursday, April 21st, to an epidemic.
“It became contagious and everyone was able to get hits,” said Decker, referring to Santa Monica’s game-clinching performance.
With the fourth-inning effort, the Vikings (12-8, 4-0) turned a 6-4 lead into a blowout on the way to a 15-4 Ocean League victory at home over Inglewood (5-7, 1-3).
The score remained unchanged after the fourth inning and the two teams decided to end the game in the sixth inning due to a ten-run-lead mercy rule.
It was Santa Monica’s second blowout of the week against Inglewood after the Vikings won 13-2 April 19th.
Santa Monica remains in first place in the league standings after a 10-8 win over Westchester High Saturday, April 23rd, while Inglewood remains in fifth place.
Vikings Coach Kevin Brockway said that although his team won convincingly in the first game, Santa Monica went into the second match-up prepared for a challenge.
“We tried not to take them too lightly,” Brockway said. “When you beat a team pretty badly you have a tendency to take them lightly, but they came out and played a game.”
Inglewood might have been ready to play, but it was Santa Monica that picked up the edge first after scoring three runs in the first inning.
Sophomore Dylan Early, who finished with four runs scored and two RBIs (runs batted in), scored the first Vikings run off a double by senior first baseman Junior Villanueva. Junior Milan Depillars then sent home two more runs off a single up the middle of the field.
Santa Monica starting pitcher Chris Fiala provided early trouble for Inglewood on offense, but the Sentinels scored their first run late in the second inning after a throwing error at first base by Viking third baseman David Castellanos.
The Vikings stretched their lead to 6-1 in the second inning, courtesy of a three-run home run by Decker, who finished with three RBIs and picked up his seventh home run of the season.
“We were just looking to get a win and once we got the win we felt good,” Decker said.
Inglewood cut the Santa Monica lead to three runs in the third inning after two RBIs by junior Francisco Hernandez off a single with the bases loaded. A double play by Santa Monica ended the inning and prevented any further runs by the Sentinels.
An RBI by senior Jesus Orozco brought the Sentinels to within two runs at 6-4 in the fourth inning, but then it was Santa Monica’s turn to bat.
The Vikings began their fourth-inning rally by picking up a series of hits that led to two early runs. Santa Monica then loaded the bases to give the Sentinels real trouble.
Runners scored in three consecutive at-bats for Santa Monica, including RBIs by junior Kevin Gonzalez and Early.
Sophomore Michael Schwartz ended the scoring rally for Santa Monica with a double that drove two runs home for a 15-4 lead.
Inglewood continued to compete by picking up a couple of hits off of Viking junior pitcher James Nedelman, who replaced Fiala in the fifth inning, but the Sentinels could not convert.
Sentinel pitcher Adan Penuelas struck out two Santa Monica hitters in the fifth inning and held the Vikings scoreless, but Inglewood could not add any more runs in the sixth inning and decided to call the game.
Santa Monica finished with 13 hits in the game to seven hits for the Sentinels.
Although the Vikings are at the top of the league, Decker said they will have to continue to focus on their defense if they intend on winning the league title this season.
“We have to keep the other team from scoring,” he said.
“We have some tough games coming up,” Brockway said. “We need to win one game at a time.”