Sharks struggling through early growing pains with two league losses

Uneven play continues to plague the Malibu High School baseball team, which lost their first two league games last week — both against the Grace Brethren Lancers.

Coach Ari Jacobs said the team has been inconsistent in the past few games.

“We’ve been bitten by some injuries, and then either lack of offense, lack of pitching [or] lack of defense,” Jacobs said. “While having some of the other two of the three components there at times, we’re just having a breakdown of not being able to put together a game of having all three components there.”

The Sharks are on a four-game losing streak overall, and are just 4-5 on the season.

In their games against the Lancers on Wednesday, March 25, and Friday, March 27, pitching was one of the main culprits that bogged down Malibu’s play.

On Wednesday, the Sharks were down 3-0 to the Lancers for the majority of the game, but things got out of hand when they gave up three more runs in one inning later in the game. The final score was 10-0 in favor of Grace Brethren.

Declan Sheridan started Friday’s game and threw two scoreless innings, Jacobs said. But Sheridan started to regress, and had to be pulled in the third inning.

Grace Brethren had a 5-0 lead in that game, but the Sharks pulled together eight straight runs to take the lead. However, Malibu fell apart and eventually lost, 14-8.

Jacobs said 11 Lancers were either walked or hit with pitches, which contributed to Malibu’s loss of momentum in Friday’s game.

“We’re going through a funk of not being able to throw strikes, some untimely defense [and] some injuries that have affected the offense,” Jacobs said.

There were some bright spots in the two games against Grace Brethren, Jacobs said. Dylan Ross came back from sprained ankle, and junior Dillon Cohon has played well as a middle reliever.

Jacobs said he has been encouraged by how hard the team plays despite being on a losing streak.

“That’s the component that you need to have no matter what,” Jacobs said. “Win or lose, you want to have guys that play hard and don’t give up and are pulling for each other.”

Jacobs said he might have to call up junior varsity players to play games if the team can’t turn it around later in the season.
The Sharks played in the San Diego Lions tournament from Monday, March 30, to Wednesday, April 1.

Jacobs is confident that his team will turn things around during and after the MHS spring break.

“We still have five or six games ahead of us right now, or seven games possibly if we do well in the tournament and make the championships,” Jacobs said. “We have some time to fix things and get ourselves rolling for the conference push and the playoff push.”

MHS softball capitalizes on Viewpoint weaknesses, winning 16-9

The Malibu High School softball team benefited from their opponent’s poor play and beat the Viewpoint Patriots, 16-9, on Thursday, March 12.

Although the Sharks won and improved to a 1-1 record, coach Mark Cooley said the team needs to make a lot of improvements.

“The score didn’t dictate what we earned out there as far as runs go,” Cooley said.

Six players on the softball team have never played the sport before, something that Cooley said will be a problem going forward.

“We have to get these newer kids who have never played ball before to understand the game at a more advanced level,” Cooley said.

Junior pitcher Molly Gallagher recorded two strikeouts, and is also the team’s best hitter, Cooley said.

“She’s probably our best all-around utility player,” Cooley said. “She’ll fill any spot that we need.”

Thursday’s game was back and forth for the first few innings, but in ugly fashion.

Viewpoint started scoring right off the bat. With one out and runners on second and third, the Patriots smacked a pitch down the third-base line for an RBI. The next hitter also batted in a run.

But abysmal pitching, throwing and catching by Viewpoint helped Malibu steal bases and get into scoring position. A wild pitch from Viewpoint allowed junior center fielder Hali Norris to score, knotting the game at 2.

Then junior Rachel McConnell popped the ball into right field, but the Patriots were unable to catch it, leading to a run by Gallagher, and a 3-2 lead.

But Viewpoint came back with a vengeance, and quickly. In the top of the second with two outs, a Patriot pummeled a pitch into deep center, bringing in four runs and taking a 6-3 lead.

The Sharks pulled to within one in the bottom of the second, but didn’t need to hit the ball. The Viewpoint pitching was incredibly off target, and two wild pitches led to a 6-5 score.

After the first two innings, Malibu’s field play got better, and the Sharks were able to retire Viewpoint’s possessions in only three or four batters.

Viewpoint switched pitchers in the bottom of the third, but it didn’t help. She walked most of the Malibu batters, and with the bases loaded and no outs, sophomore outfielder Tania Moran flied out, but freshman Sydney Stern scored, tying the game at 6.

With runners on second and third in the bottom of the fourth, McConnell grounded a ball down the middle and earned an RBI. After that, another bad infield throw by the Patriots led to a run for Malibu.

The Sharks ended the inning with a 10-6 lead after an RBI by junior catcher Emma Gallagher. Malibu won the game easily after that with stronger hitting and even more stolen bases.

Cooley said the team would have a successful season if they finished with at least a .500 record.

“The school has never been .500 in softball ever,” Cooley said. “That would be the goal. Reach .500 and make CIF.”

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Local artist displays work for community at show benefitting SMMEF

Local artist James Crowley (right), Ed Burke (center) and Diego Vinals talk during a showing of Crowley's work at the Spindle and Canister store at Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, March 7, 2015.

Local artist James Crowley (right), Ed Burke (center) and Diego Vinals talk during a showing of Crowley’s work at the Spindle and Canister store at Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, March 7, 2015.

For local artist James Crowley, a family trip to the Four Corners monument, winning and losing at gambling in Las Vegas, and his father’s death all have one thing in common — they inspire his art.

“Almost every piece has something personally to do with my life,” Crowley said while standing next to a piece called “Heart Luck,” which was inspired by his father’s heart attack.

Crowley’s work was shown at the Spindle & Canister clothing store in Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, March 7.

Crowley, 53, has been showing his art in various ways for 32 years in locations throughout the country and even overseas.
Michelle Geft, who started Art Space Malibu, put together the show at the store after she coincidentally happened upon Crowley’s art.

“When I first saw it, I was drawn to his abstracts immediately,” Geft said. “It just drew me in.”

Geft said the hidden meanings behind Crowley’s pieces are what make them attractive to art lovers.

Crowley uses mixed media for his creations. Using screen printing, oil sticks and acrylics, he puts together colorful pieces that all have a special meaning for him.

Crowley has been an artist since he was old enough to use coloring books, he said. His parents constantly encouraged him to take art classes, leading to the career he is actively engaged in today. His mother was also an artist.

Malibu Art Show_50

In order to financially support his passion, Crowley said he photographs professional surfers, does graphic art and produces sculptures.

However, the mere act of creating art is what really matters to Crowley.

“Everyone needs money to create art, but the art is the most important thing,” Crowley said.

Crowley’s art was for sale on Saturday, and a portion of the proceeds from the pieces and the clothing bought at the store that night was donated to the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, Geft said. Two books of Crowley’s handmade drawings were also on display and the individual works were being sold.

At the showing, dozens of people attended and were treated to wine, cupcakes, and various finger foods.

Crowley said he sits outside and makes his art pieces, and seems to have a positive view on living in Malibu.

“I’m just very grateful to still be a part of the Malibu art community,” Crowley said. “I’ve lived here for three years … and I’m stoked to be here.”

Geft wants to coordinate more art showings from local talent so the community can start paying attention to the art world in Malibu.

“I think it brings arts to the community, which we don’t really have here, which is unfortunate because we have so many artists in Malibu,” Geft said. “So I really want to break that open for our community and show as many artists as possible.”

Permalink: http://www.malibusurfsidenews.com/local-artist-displays-work-community-show-benefitting-smmef

Vintage Grocers celebrates one year in Malibu

Eric Fuchser (center), owner of Vintage Grocers, greets guests as they enter during the one-year anniversary of the store on Saturday, March 7, 2015.

Eric Fuchser (center), owner of Vintage Grocers, greets guests as they enter during the one-year anniversary of the store on Saturday, March 7, 2015.

Every morning, Maggie Luckerath wakes up, takes a stroll down Zuma Beach and before visiting her local grocery store, Vintage Grocers.

She particularly likes to shop for bacon, which she said she could smell from the Malibu Beach Club, where she parks her car before going to the store. She also shops for fresh vegetables, milk, eggs and baked goods.

Luckerath was one of the patrons in attendance for the one-year anniversary celebration of Vintage Grocers on Saturday, March 7, and said the store has brought a “total sense of community.”

“You always see somebody from the neighborhood or from town you know,” Luckerath said. “Not only one, but at least four or five people that you know from the town of Malibu. It’s just a wonderful addition to our neighborhood.”

Rachel Mullins (right) pours a sample of Naturinque Energy Tea for Dan Levy (center) and Mary P. Smith inside of Vintage Grocers during the one-year anniversary celebration of the store on Thursday, March 7, 2015.

Rachel Mullins (right) pours a sample of Naturinque Energy Tea for Dan Levy (center) and Mary P. Smith inside of Vintage Grocers during the one-year anniversary celebration of the store on Thursday, March 7, 2015.

Malibu community members lined up outside of the grocery store before 10 a.m. to receive gift bags containing products such as chips, snacks, drinks and other items. Each bag had slightly different variations of items inside.

Eric Fuchser, the director of the market, greeted patrons with hugs and handshakes as they entered, and expressed gratitude to them for helping the store remain open throughout its first year.

“I’m very grateful to the whole city of Malibu and the communities that are adjacent and the folks shopping here,” Fuchser said. “We’ve been blessed beyond our means.”

Luckerath described the store as “Whole Foods on steroids,” to which Fuchser laughed heartily.

“That’s quite a compliment,” Fuchser said. “Any time you’re associated with a successful market like Whole Foods, you know you’re doing something right.”

Benjamin Katz, 11, feeds a donkey outside of Vintage Grocers during the one-year anniversary celebration of the store on Thursday, March 7, 2015.

Benjamin Katz, 11, feeds a donkey outside of Vintage Grocers during the one-year anniversary celebration of the store on Thursday, March 7, 2015.

Inside the store, product representatives set up tables and gave samples to shoppers. Products included the local Bloody Mary mix, Malibu Mary, and Naturinque Energizing Tea.

Outside the doors of the store, local band The Roman Helmets played classic rock cover songs until 2 p.m.

A miniature petting zoo, which included a donkey and two goats, was available for shoppers or others in the area outside the store.

Fuscher said he’d love to see the business grow, and will be looking for expansion opportunities in the future.

Brooks Stewart, a Malibu resident, likes to shop at Vintage Grocers because she is able to buy products that can’t be found in regular grocery stores, such as certain candies, cheese and other things that are found in Italy and Spain.

Stewart also feels the store has become an integral part of the Malibu community.

“I think it’s brought people together,” Stewart said. “You know, everybody hanging out and just bringing their dogs or kids, giving everybody a decision to eat healthier.”

Dozens of patrons line up outside of Vintage Grocers to receive a gift bag during the one-year anniversary celebration of the store on Thursday, March 7, 2015.

Dozens of patrons line up outside of Vintage Grocers to receive a gift bag during the one-year anniversary celebration of the store on Thursday, March 7, 2015.

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Former Malibu resident creates successful hitting tool

When David Kanner was 11, he was a shy kid from New York moving to Malibu because his parents thought it best for the family.

Kanner started playing baseball in the Malibu Little League to make friends, but because he started the sport late, he had some trouble fitting in right away.

“I got teased by all my friends because here they had been playing for years and I didn’t know how to play,” Kanner said. “I was like 10, 11 years old. It was quite an emotional thing for me, I
remember.”

Kanner’s father, Hal, who played AAA baseball in the 1940s for the then-New York Giants, felt responsible for his son being teased, Kanner said. He was injured in Kanner’s youth and could not introduce baseball to him at an earlier age.

So Hal vowed to make Kanner into an exceptional hitter, and came across a product called Johnny Bench Batter Up. The product was a base with a ball attached to a stem that, when hit, would whip around and return to the batter so it could be hit again.

When Kanner started using the batting aid, his hitting improved dramatically, and he was considered one of the best players in the minor league at the time.

Kanner stopped playing baseball at 20, but returned to the sport in a different way by inventing the Vortex Swing Trainer, which was inspired by the product purchased by his dad in his youth.

“This is my way of keeping these memories alive with my father,” Kanner said. “Everything I learned, I learned from him. I really do owe all of this, this company and everything, and my motivation to do this, I owe it all to my father.”

Kanner’s company, Repetitive Batting Instructor, or R.B.I., sells the Vortex and other products centered around teaching budding baseball players how to hone their crafts. Their highest-selling product is called Pro Tee, which is best suited for players up to the age of 16, Kanner said.

Kanner was approached with the idea by his sister, who’s son, Adam, started playing baseball but was on the verge of quitting due to his difficulty batting. She wanted Kanner to make something similar to what his dad bought him when he was
playing.

After he made it, his nephew’s batting also dramatically improved — just like his did when he was young — and Kanner felt he was on to something.

“A light went off in my head going, ‘Wow this thing really works. It wasn’t just a freak thing with me,’” Kanner
said.

Kanner’s fondest memories of playing baseball were when he played little league in Malibu, and his involvement in the sport helped him grow as a person.

“It’s funny how that works because I was really shy, and I have to give all the credit to baseball for bringing me out of my shell,” Kanner said.

Even though Kanner didn’t pursue professional baseball like this father hoped he would, it is now a big part of his life through the development of his products and company. He feels his father, who died of cancer in 1993, would approve of the work he’s doing.

“I wound up in my 20s and all and getting interested in other things, so I think my dad’s dream of me going on and playing was kind of broken in that respect,” Kanner said. “But I think if he was still alive and saw I’m still involved somewhat in baseball, he would be very happy about it.”

Kanner feels his products are making an impact with younger baseball players, and seems proud to be a part of their development.

“I see and I remember what the sport did for me as far as helping me with my shyness and other things, and how it helped my nephew, and I see how it helps other kids,” Kanner said. “That makes me feel good that I can help other kids.”

Kanner said much of his family still lives in the Malibu area, and he visits the city frequently. He moved to San Diego because his company is based there, but said he would move back to Malibu.

The Vortex Swing Trainer has been endorsed by several current and former professional baseball players, Kanner said, including Mark Trumbo, first baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

R.B.I.’s products are available at retailers such as Sports Chalet, Dick’s Sporting Goods and on its website, www.rbivortex.com.

Permalink: http://www.malibusurfsidenews.com/former-malibu-resident-creates-successful-hitting-tool

Middle school actors execute ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ performance with precision

Milo Sposato (foreground) deilvers a monologue as Tevye during Malibu Middle School's performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Milo Sposato (foreground) deilvers a monologue as Tevye during Malibu Middle School’s performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Students from Malibu Middle School sang and danced their way into the audience’s hearts with their rendition of “Fiddler on the Roof,” which opened on Thursday, Feb. 26, in the Malibu High School amphitheater.

Produced, directed and choreographed by MMS science teacher Mark Larsen, “Fiddler” is a story about Tevye, played by Milo Sposato, and his five daughters as they fall in love with various men with whom their father does not approve.

One by one, Tevye’s daughters get engaged to men of their choosing, which goes against the traditional idea of men asking Tevye for his daughters’ hands in marriage and other Jewish customs. Even though Tevye hesitates at first, he ends up granting his blessing to all but one daughter, who marries a Catholic man against her father’s will.

The middle school’s rendition of the popular musical was well-executed and well-performed. Sposato as Tevye sang well throughout the show, and delivered his monologues perfectly and with the confidence and stage presence of a seasoned actor.

Claire Anneet, who played Tevye’s wife, Golde, was convincing as a woman who was strict and traditional, and expected her husband to be traditional as well.

Milo Sposato (right) and Claire Anneet act as Tevye and Golde during Malibu Middle School's performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Milo Sposato (right) and Claire Anneet act as Tevye and Golde during Malibu Middle School’s performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

The entire cast of characters gave justice to the music of the show, performing hits such as “Tradition,” If I Were A Rich Man” and “Matchmaker” in key and with precise harmonies.

One unique aspect of the musical was the stage background. Instead of going with traditional set pieces to tell the audience where a scene was located, there was a digital backdrop that was able to be manipulated in real time.

For example, during a scene when Tevye was walking gingerly from stage right, he mimed that he was carrying a heavy wagon behind him. To illustrate that, there was a wagon on the digital background that moved as Tevye pretended to pull it, making it seem like he was actually interacting with the wagon on the screen.

In the instances where the cast danced choreography, they were in rhythm and did not make mistakes. During a scene where four characters were in a wedding reception, they each put a bottle on top of hats they were wearing, and balanced them on their heads while doing their choreography. The crowd erupted in applause after that particular section of the musical.

Overall, the musical is a delight for both the eyes and the ears. For only being in sixth, seventh and eighth grades, the students at MMS conduct themselves with professionalism and know how to entertain.

Malibu Middle School also performed “Fiddler on the Roof” on Feb. 27 and 28 at 7 p.m., and Mar. 1 at 2 p.m.

Students from Malibu Middle School dance to a song during their performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

Students from Malibu Middle School dance to a song during their performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Malibu High School in Malibu, Calif.

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