El Segundo’s Hunter Lewis wins Beach City Baseball Academy’s Sixth Tool Scholarship
By Randy Angel
Another chapter has been added to the tragic, yet inspiring, life story of El Segundo student-athlete Hunter Lewis who recently was the awarded Beach City Baseball Academy’s annual “Sixth Tool” Baseball Scholarship worth $5,000.
A standout player on El Segundo High School’s Ocean League championship baseball team, Lewis said the scholarship will help him financially when attends Lindenwood University in Belleville, Illinois, where he will study General Business while playing baseball for the Lynx in the fall.
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“Winning the scholarship is unbelievable and will really help me financially,” Lewis said. “I want to thank Mr. Murad so much for choosing me.”
The goal of the scholarship is to provide support for college-bound baseball players who demonstrate exceptional strength of character—a quality that Beach City Baseball Academy (BCBA) founder Richard Murad notes is called the “sixth tool” of championship play.
Because cultivating the sixth tool in all the student athletes served by Beach City Baseball Academy is essential to its mission, the Academy developed the Sixth Tool Scholarship program to provide supplemental financial assistance to deserving college freshman who are part of their school’s baseball program. This community-based scholarship is awarded once each year to a student who lives within a 10-mile radius of the Academy’s campus.
“Hunter always has a team first attitude, he shows up early and is the first to volunteer to help out in any way he can,” El Segundo head coach Steve Eno said. “He is respected by his peers and coaches, works harder than anyone and has a positive attitude day in and day out. Hunter embodies the sixth tool of character that will allow him to be successful in anything that he does.”
Murad describes this year’s winner, Hunter Lewis, as the perfect example of someone who goes above and beyond in everything that he does.
“In addition to his athletic accomplishments and his service to the local baseball community including jobs as a coach and an umpire, Hunter has maintained a 3.5 GPA,” Murad said.
Although Lewis has received academic and athletic scholarship and has taken out student loans, the BCBA scholarship will help.
In 2004, Hunter’s parents, Bruce and Paulita Lewis, took out a home-improvement load to expand their house. After weeks of rain, the roof collapsed and the contractor left town with $40,000 of the family’s money.
The parents, Hunter and his sister Erin were forced to share a one bedroom in the apartment of Bruce’s mother. The community rallied around the Lewis but progress in fixing the home was slow.
The family was then dealt another blow when Paulita was diagnosed with cancer. The story and application was submitted to the television program Extreme Makeover: Home Edition who stepped in and finished where the community had left off.
Paulita died in January 2008 when Hunter was 11 years old. His father Bruce, an El Segundo police officer, believes the difficulties his son has faced have been a driving force that have helped him excel on the field and in the classroom.
“For Hunter to win the scholarship is pretty incredible,” Bruce said. “I’m very proud of Hunter. He wants to put his own footprint in his education. I especially want to thank Mr. Murad. I know he doesn’t seek recognition for the things he does, but he really has a passion for the kids and the community. He has helped many kids and families behind the scenes.”
In 2014, Murad began holding free batting lessons for kids with special needs, a program that continues to grow in popularity.
In addition to managing and operating well-organized baseball camps that are open to everyone, BCBA sponsors The Beach City Prospects, a program of competitive and developmental traveling club teams.
On Wednesday, June 10, BCBA Director of Operations Matt Watson was in Sacramento to accept a Small Business Award from Senator Ben Allen.
Lewis, who has played for El Segundo’s American Legion teams and travel ball with the Priority Baseball Outlaws, expects to play on the left side of the infield in college.
“Third base is my main position,” said Lewis, who also posted a 4-2 record and 2.42 ERA as a pitcher for El Segundo this season. “I found a lot of confidence over the summer last year and had a lot of fun this high school season. The majority of my teammates and I have known each other since T-ball at El Segundo Little League.”
Although the Eagles (22-10) fell to eventual champion Redondo 5-0 in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs, Lewis said he was content with the season.
“We were Ocean League co-champions with Santa Monica and beat Redondo twice in four games,” Lewis said. “I thought we matched up well with them but were flat in the playoff game. El Segundo always considers itself on of the top teams in the South Bay.”
Lewis finished his senior season batting .345 with 36 RBI, nine doubles and four home runs.
“Our Sixth Tool Scholarship rewards deserving young baseball players who display more than just exceptional skills on the field. These players conduct themselves, on and off the field, with a winning attitude that inspires others,” Murad said. “While it is no small matter to become a five-tool player who possesses speed, fielding prowess, a powerful throwing arm and the ability to hit for both average and power—those who also have real character are truly exceptional, and those are the players scouts seek out when they are looking for candidates to groom into champions. At Beach City Baseball Academy, the sixth tool has always been our number one educational priority and that is why we are proud to offer this scholarship to Hunter, who embodies this value.”