baseball, California Interscholastic Federation, CIF, CIF LA City Section, Dodger Stadium, high school baseball, High School Sports, Los Angeles, North Hollywood High School, North Hollywood Huskies, Southern California sports, Venice Gondoliers, Venice High School
Venice High School’s Gondoliers, the team that I saw yesterday in their first playoff game. Photo courtesy of gofundme.com
WATCHING VENICE AND NORTH HOLLYWOOD HIGH SCHOOLS CLASH IN THEIR FIRST ROUND OF THE LA CITY SECTION BASEBALL DIVISION I PLAYOFFS
I’ve realized that I’ve been a bit of a baseball and softball junkie this year, as far as watching games.
So far I’ve seen in action…
- Culver City Little League
- West Los Angeles College’s Wildcats, who play next door to my house
- Santa Monica College’s softball team, where I was involved as a coach in the mid-90s and did an article on them for this blog (Here’s the link: http://www.socalsportsannals.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/a-new-generation-dawns-my-time-with-santa-monica-colleges-softball-team/ )
- UCLA’s outstanding softball team, who won their NCAA Regional by taking two games from Cal State Fullerton and are now preparing for an epic Super Regional showdown with their main rival, the Arizona Wildcats, starting this Thursday, and…
- Four college baseball games, including three UCLA games, one USC game, and the annual Crosstown Rivalry clash at Dodger Stadium between the Bruins and the Trojans, which I covered for this blog as well as the ‘SC game I attended and one of the other UCLA games I was at (Here are the links: https://socalsportsannals.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/crosstown-rivalry-baseball-2018-usc-outlasts-ucla-in-a-close-one-at-dodger-stadium/ , http://www.socalsportsannals.wordpress.com/2018/04/18/an-evening-with-ucla-baseball-at-jackie-robinson-stadium/ , http://www.socalsportsannals.wordpress.com/2018/04/26/an-evening-with-usc-baseball-at-dedeaux-field/ )
Since I hadn’t seen a high school game as of yet, the playoffs being underway,
And since I hadn’t seen a high school game in a couple of years, the last one being Culver City facing Elsinore – which I also did for this blog; (AGAIN!) here’s the link: http://www.socalsportsannals.wordpress.com/2018/05/23/friday-afternoon-natural-lights-checking-out-socal-high-school-baseball/
I felt it was high time to check out a game, and Venice High School – which has a good history in baseball as they have won five Los Angeles City championships, including three straight from 1984-86 – provided me with a good opportunity as they were beginning their run in the L.A. City Division 1 playoffs with a battle with North Hollywood on their campus.
North Hollywood in a LA City championship game at Dodger Stadium a few years ago. Photo courtesy of patch.com
So I set off for Venice High yesterday (FUN FACT: Much of the classic movie “Grease”, including the iconic “Summer Lovin'” scene, was filmed there) to check out the Gondoliers, who finished second in the Western League, and the Huskies in their clash at Ralph Soto Ballpark, which was dedicated to him in 1999 and, as it’s a small field with very little foul space, it induces a mouth-watering reaction from big-home run hitting types.
I began the game sitting by the North Hollywood dugout on the third base side, but as there was a newly formed and active beehive right under the top bench of those bleachers – and as I am allergic to bee stings – I was sitting on the bleachers by the Venice dugout by the second inning.
No, this wasn’t from the game I saw, but this is a nice shot of a Venice batter and the Gondos’ dugout. Photo courtesy of veniceoarsman.com
I’LL BE HONEST: The facilities weren’t wonderful compared to what is at places like Culver City High; the scoreboard didn’t work, but the place served its purpose well enough as the biggest thing they need to do is add more bleachers behind the first base line as many of the fans were standing up on that side.
The crowd was of a decent size, Venice’s baseball team having a strong following, and one guy, who turned out to be the father of the Gondoliers’ second baseman, was particularly enthusiastic in his rooting for his son.
There was an easygoing atmosphere among the fans that I felt comfortable with, no pretentious folks in the crowd as I had some nice conversations with a couple of them.
As for the game, I was impressed with Venice, those Gondos beating North Hollywood comfortably by a score of 7-1, especially after I found that the majority of Venice’s players were underclassmen.
Which meant that they are going to be scary good for the next couple of years.
The two Venice players that I was most impressed with were the first baseman, a sophomore who’s a big dude, standing at least six feet tall and whacking the ball all day; I expect him to be hitting many bombs the next couple of years.
If I were that first baseman’s coach, I’d be virtually drooling over what he could do with the bat in 2019 and 2020.
The starting Venice pitcher, after a shaky first inning, settled down rather nicely as outside of a few hit batters, he completely shut down those Huskies, including striking out the side in the fourth inning.
And as he’s a junior, I’m sure everyone’s expecting big things from him next year.
I can’t honestly say how much of a chance Venice has at winning the Division 1 City Championship – their opponent in the upcoming second round is Marshall – but as I’ve stated, with all the underclassmen that they have those Gondoliers are set up to be extremely good in the future.
Like all the other events that I did articles on, I had a good time at the game and am glad I went.
Venice’s team after beating league rival Palisades. Photo courtesy of patch.com