Saints Rallying Behind Familar FacesBy Arroyo Seco Saints July 29, 2023 07:50pm
The Arroyo Seco Saints attract new players from across the country each year — 45 players from 32 institutions in 14 different states for the 2023 season, to be exact. Six of these players, however, are familiar faces to the Saints organization.
Creighton Hansen first set foot on the Jackie Robinson Memorial Field in 2021, the summer after his first season at Wichita State. Hansen had 17 strikeouts that season, and was credited with two wins out of the 5 games he appeared in.
For the summer 2022 season, Hansen had decided to remain in his home state of Texas to play in the Northwood League. After proving to not be a good fit, he left and spent the rest of the off-season training at home.
The pitcher, now on the roster for Xavier University in Cincinatti, OH, returned to the west coast for the 2023 summer season. So far this season, he’s had 23 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched.
For another Saints pitcher, the decision to join the Saints was partially due to his familiarity with the coaching staff. Caleb Reyes, who is currently playing for Cal Poly Pomona while pursuing his Masters degree, previously played for head coach Aaron Milam as an undergraduate at Occidental College. His work with pitching coach Josh Goossen-Brown was a defining moment in his career and his decision to return to the Saints. It was evident in his play last summer, where Reyes recorded a 2.73 ERA and 25 strikeouts.
“I know I’m going to get a good group of guys, a good group of coaches, and time to really hone my skills,” said Reyes.
The California native has had another impressive season as a Saint in 2023 with 22 strikeouts and a 1.69 ERA — including a 20-game-long scoreless streak.
The other California native also returning this season is Max Blessinger, the outfielder from Belmont University. He has been one of the most consistent hitters on the team with a .319 average so far this season. Besides being a recipient of the Saints’ Player of the Week honor, he was among those selected to play in the CCL showcase.
He’s also credited with coining the term “Cardiac Saints,” aptly named due to the several late-game rallies the team has had this year. A standout example was the back-to-back games against the Conejo Oaks on June 23 and 24. In both games, the tying run came off of Blessinger’s bat in the 8th inning.
Texas native Jordan Rogers made his debut with the Saints last summer as a rising junior. He was the fourth member of the Wichita State baseball team to join this year, and despite arriving late this summer, he says that he clicked with his other teammates immediately.
The highlight of Rogers’ season would have to be the second to last game of the regular season. Not only did he hit three home runs in one game, but he managed to hit two in just one inning — including a grand slam.
“This league is a lot more competitive, and it really gets the most out of each player that players here,” said Rogers.
Jacob Henderson spent the summer after his freshman year playing in the Northwoods league in Wisconsin, before being invited out to California the following year. Though an Arizona native, he was familiar with the Golden State having visited frequently growing up.
Henderson was solid on the mound for the Saints during the 2022 season, emerging with a 2.79 ERA after 29 innings pitched.
It wasn’t just the unbeatable weather that had Henderson returning, but the way the program runs, the coaching staff and the “great guys” he gets to play alongside.
“I became friends with everyone on this team, even though they’re from all different schools,” said Henderson. “It’s just kinda how summer ball is — we spend every day together, and get to pick each others’ brains and learn a lot.”
Henderson had an outstanding season with the Saints this summer: 0.00 ERA, 25 strikeouts, and only one hit in 16 innings pitched.
Carson McKinney and Anthony Giannette, two more Saints pitchers coming from the Lone Star state, both debuted with the Saints in the summer of 2022. McKinney recorded 11 strikeouts in 8 innings pitched this season. Giannette recorded 15 strikeouts in 13 innings pitched. Both will be returning to Texas to play this year, McKinney at Blinn College and Giannette at the University of Texas San Antonio.
The 2023 regular season will reach its conclusion for the Saints tonight on their home turf. They’ll take on the Academy Barons, looking to sweep the series and secure the 1st seed for CCL playoffs.
- Saints Reporter Sydney Barragan (New York University)
- Saints Photographer Sonny Tapia (Cal State Long Beach)