Saints Jump Out to Lead Versus Blues, Bullpen Holds It DownBy Arroyo Seco Saints July 04, 2018 03:01am
Article by Christopher D’Avanzo; Photo by Tom Stafford
SAN LUIS OBISPO – The Arroyo Seco Saints (8-13, 6-11 CCL) travelled upstate to San Luis Obispo for the second time in as many weeks to challenge the Blues (13-15, 4-10 CCL) in a CCL league matchup. It’s the second of nine consecutive road games for the Saints, to be played over a period of 11 days, a stretch that is sure to challenge the players as they undergo the most serious road trip of the season.
The Saints entered play on Tuesday having lost two of three to the SoCal Catch, with a .500 record (3-3) over their last six contests. Arroyo Seco’s overall record has them in the lower half of the standings and effectively tied with the Blues before the result of Tuesday’s game.
The Saints defeated the Blues by a score of 5-2 in a game that had the makings of a slugfest early, but the scoring stopped rather quickly as both offenses were halted by the 4th inning as the starting pitchers gave way to the bullpen.
For the 3rd straight game, the Saints offense got going in the 1st inning of the game. Arroyo Seco loaded the bases with each of the first three batters reaching on a pair of singles and an error. After a strikeout, the Saints scored on a fielder’s choice by Emory University’s Mitch Kerner, who started the game in left field. His corner outfield counterpart, USC’s John Thomas, delivered the game’s second run on a 2-out single, certain foreshadowing of what was to come from the Saints’ two-out hitting.
Leading 2-0 into the bottom of the 1st, starter Colin King ran into some trouble, allowing a pair of singles to open the game. With runners on the corners, the Blues capitalized with a sacrifice fly and an RBI single to tie the game. King was able to escape the inning thanks to a double play.
In the third, the Saints put together a rally after the first batter was retired. Designated hitter, Cal Poly’s Drew Cowley, picked up a single, and Michigan State catcher Nic Lacayo worked a walk to put runners on first and second. New Mexico State’s Cooper Williams came up to the plate and smoked a ball past the lunging Blues’ first baseman to score Cowley. Kerner picked up his second RBI by driving in Lacayo with a groundout to the shortstop.
John Thomas came to the plate, again with two down, and he hit a high, looping fly ball into shallow left field that the Blues were unable to snag, falling in for a double, the Saints 5th run, and the lone extra base hit for the Saints. Thomas finished the game at 2-5 with a pair of RBI’s.
The Saints bullpen allowed nine runs in the loss to the Catch on Sunday but turned things around on Tuesday night by pitching six combined innings of scoreless baseball, scattering three hits and not allowing multiple hits in any inning. While the Saints offense was held scoreless by the Blues bullpen, the five runs they scored against Blues starter Cole Tucker was more than enough run support for starter King, who allowed two earned runs on four hits over three innings, while stranding a pair of runners in the 3rd.
King exited the game after the third inning and gave way to Trinity College pitcher Mark Tindall. Tindall in relief was nothing short of excellent, throwing four scoreless innings, allowing only a lone single and striking out a pair of Blues batters. Tindall’s effort, which earned him Player of the Game honors, dropped his season ERA from 4.26 to 2.61, and the four innings he pitched made for his longest outing of the season thus far. He gave way to reliever Wyatt Kelley from New Mexico State University in the 8th inning and Kelley was also scoreless in his lone inning of work.
Closer Joey Steele, the hard-throwing right hander out of the University of San Francisco, entered in the ninth inning after the Saints squandered a bases loaded, no outs opportunity. Steele allowed a double to the lead off the ninth, but quickly responded by inducing a pop-up and a strikeout. Facing the Blues’ last hope, designated hitter Lane Jones, Steele battled back from a 2-0 count to get the strikeout and earn the save. Steele’s effectiveness in the late innings have all but locked up the closer’s role for him, as he has converted all but one of his save opportunities thus far this season.
The Saints return to play on Thursday, July 5th, beginning a stretch of overnight travel games by returning to Santa Barbara to play the Foresters after a tough 3-2 loss on June 24th. The Saints will return home to face the Blues on Thursday, July 12th.