Key SP2 league games up next

Kyle BenderThis is going to be a key week for the Culver High baseball team, coach Nick Viggiano knew that going in. So it was important to get out to a good start and Monday afternoon, the Bulldogs did just that.

In a week that will see them play two of Class 2A/1A’s top teams, the Bulldogs (8-5 overall and 6-2 in Special District 2 play) started it off by rallying from a 4-0 first-inning deficit to hand Perrydale a 12-5 loss. That win sets up a showdown with Kennedy (10-1, 6-1) on Wednesday, followed by a trip to Regis (7-4, 6-1) Friday.

Along with Country Christian (10-4, 6-2), all three are ranked in the top 10, and with Culver sitting in a tie for third, will battle for the three playoff spots out of SP3.

That makes this week a big one.

“The way we bounced back shows me they are over Friday (a tough 6-5 loss to Delphian) and confident again,” Culver coach Nick Viggiano said. “We came back and hit the ball real well. It’s nice to get this one going into the week knowing that we will be playing a little better going in.”

Adam Knepp had his usual solid outing, allowing seven hits over four innings while striking out eight. Of the five runs he gave up, just one was earned.

Kyle Bender threw three hitless innings to close out Perrydale, striking out four in the process.

After falling behind, Culver came to life at the plate, scoring three runs in the second and seven in the fourth to break the game open.

And it was the bottom of the Bulldog lineup that did most of the damage. The No. 6-9 hitters combined to go 9 for 13 and drove in six runs.

Juan Diaz was 3 for 3 on the day with an RBI, while Denton Schonneker and Jack Beeler each had two hits and two RBIs. Knepp added a pair of hits and drove in a run.

“Honestly, we’ve been hitting better against better pitching,” Viggiano said. “I’m hoping that the bats will still be doing fine. We just need to shore up the defense and really just let the pitchers throw strikes and play defense.”

While the league schedule isn’t quite to the halfway point, Viggiano doesn’t want to put too much importance in the next two games. Wins don’t guarantee anything at this point, while losses won’t kill the season, but wins would be good.

“I think we have to get at least one of the two,” he said. “If we go 0-2, it puts us in a real tough spot. I’ve been trying to teach them, especially after Friday, that that game is what’s important. Friday, we had a wakeup call, and it woke them up to the fact that every game is important.”

Culver will throw Clay McClure Wednesday at Kennedy with Knepp getting the call at Regis Friday.

It would be awesome for our seniors to knock off one of them,” Viggiano said. “We just know that we have to play our best game.”

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