East County Sports

Culp lifts Stars to third straight win

The Stars in action on Tuesday.

2021 SAN DIEGO STARS BASEBALL

 

By Nick Pellegrino

ECS staff writer

LAKESIDE —- Sitting on the bench for San Diego Christian College all season wasn’t particularly fun for Hawks senior Ryan Culp. In a lost season where the coaching staff threw up its hands and played all of the underclassmen, Culp, a senior, was called upon for just six plate appearances, although he did bat .600.

At least SDCC allowed Culp to play on the final day of the season, making Senior Day memorable with a tape-measure home run, giving him a 1.000 slugging percentage.

Now playing full-time again for the summer collegiate program of the San Diego Stars semipro baseball team, Culp is re-finding fulfillment — the game is fun again.

On Tuesday (June 15), Culp, the first baseman, drove in the game-winning run with a walk-off single in the 10th inning, leading the unbeaten Stars (3-0) to a dramatic 10-9 decision over the North County Gorillas in WBA action at El Capitan High’s Hostetler Field.

Culp’s two-out liner to center fielder scored Dallas Seidel, who also singled, then moved into scoring position on a base hit by Luke Arias.

The Stars battled back from deficits of 5-0 and 8-5 in the first official meeting between the clubs. They played a non-league affair on Sunday in which the Stars mauled the Gorillas. But with a full roster arriving for a league game in the Western Baseball Association, the contests swung back-and-forth several times.

The Gorilla (as the league officially lists the club; the players claim they are the Bulldogs) struck for four early runs in the second inning, but the Stars answered with five in the fifth.

Leadoff hitter Kyle Pineda displayed surprising power with a three-run homer which hooked just inside the right-field pole to trim the deficit to 4-3.

Dallas Seidel, the Stars’ hero over the weekend, was then struck high in the back by the very next pitch, leading to a long conversation with the home-plate umpire while the dugouts were buzzing.

However, the Stars kept them composure two additional hits and a walk, as Seidel would score on a throwing error, then Joey Krug lined an RBI single to left to take the lead.

The Gorillas/Bulldogs answered with four runs in the sixth, including a two-run, go-ahead homer (roster names not submitted) for an 8-5 advantage.

However, Stars reliever  Noah Quintana came in to register the final two outs to cap the rally. In the seventh, Kai Dennis entered, spinning the final four innings to gain the victory, allowing just one run while striking out five batters.

The pitchers were aided by a great diving catch by Stars left fielder Keone Valdez, who raced into the gap to rob the Gorillas/Bulldogs of an extra-base hit. The snag proved important as the next batter singled to right-center, which would’ve easily scored the runner.

For the contest, Seidel batted 3-for-5, raising his summer batting average to .571 (8-for-14).

The teams continue their series Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at El Cap with free admission for all.

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