Saints Win Walk-Off Thriller 7-6 Against OaksBy Arroyo Seco Saints June 25, 2023 11:55pm
Pasadena, CA – For the third consecutive game in this series, the Arroyo Seco Saints rallied late to grab a win; their 7-6 victory makes it their fifth straight. With quite the win streak building, this team is showing not only true levels of confidence but also how resilient of a team they are.
Unlike previous games in this series, the Saints jumped out to an early lead. Raider Tello (Iowa) roped one into the right-centerfield gap, earning himself a two-out double. Tello would later score on an error by the Oaks off the bat of Jack Hammond (Long Beach State).
The Saints held their lead until the third inning, where the Oaks jumped in front 2-1.
After the first inning, the bats went a bit cold for Arroyo Seco. Despite opportunities, the Saints couldn’t find a way to get runners across home plate.
Raider Tello was a consistent man on base for the Saints throughout these slower innings. Despite only arriving this week for the team, Tello credits his success behind the plate to prior experience at Jackie Robinson Memorial Field.
“This was my JUCO park; I’ve swung it well here before,” said Tello. “Confidence just comes from trying to hit it to the semi-big part of the field. It’s all about working it up the middle the other way; that’s been my approach since I was ten years old”.
In five plate appearances, Tello reached base safely in four, including a single, double, and two runs scored.
After a shaky couple of innings in the middle of this matchup, the Saints were trailing 6-1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning.
Preston Godfrey (New Mexico State) entered the game as a pinch hitter with two outs and two runners in scoring position. Trailing by five runs, this was a pivotal at-bat. Godfrey delivered with a single over the second basemen’s glove, scoring Max Blessinger (Belmont) and Jared Quandt (Hawaii).
Godfrey’s single was a turning point in this game—juice from behind the plate translated to success on the mound for the Saints.
Aaron Eden (San Jose State) delivered in his first appearance of the season. He pitched a scoreless seventh inning, striking out a batter along the way.
Brayden Matthews (Walters State) pitched the rest of the way in this matchup. After a scoreless eighth inning pitched, the Saints found life behind the plate.
Trailing by three runs, James Nelson (Longwood) delivered. With one batter retired in the half-inning, Nelson joined the Saints’ home run club. His 366-foot home run provided a spark for the Saints; suddenly, Arroyo Seco was right back in this ballgame.
After another stellar inning by Brayden Matthews in the ninth, the Saints were down to their final three outs entering the bottom of the ninth.
Raider Tello started the inning with a five-pitch walk, putting the tying run at the plate. After back-to-back putouts by the Oaks defense, the Saints had their backs against the wall.
Alec Jones (Cincinnati), the Saints’ fourth batter of the inning, faced an 0-2 count with two out. After battling back in the count, Jones managed to force a walk; the tying run was now on base.
The Saints then elected to bring in Chase Meggers (Oregon) to pinch hit; he managed to draw a walk as well. The bases were now loaded.
Up to bat next, in a must-hit situation, was James Nelson. The Longwood product delivered once again.
James Nelson’s single into right field brought in the tying two runs in this game, but that wasn’t all. After a throw to home from the Oaks right fielder, Nelson rounded first and was heading for second. With Chase Meggers comfortably on second base, it appeared the Saints were in for a late-inning pickle.
Luckily, the Oaks catcher overthrew the ball into the outfield. With the ball rolling in the centerfield grass, the Saints entered attack mode. Chase Meggers turned on the burners, rounding third and heading for home. A slide into home plate, and next thing you knew, the Saints walked it off.
“I was trying to get a good pitch to hit, I think I have the pitch to swing at, got the ball in the right place at the right time, and it gets through the infield,” said Nelson. “With two outs, I immediately was thinking we were scoring two and tying this game, and then I saw the ball was in the outfield”.
This victory makes it the third game in this series where the Saints were able to rally late to secure a win.
Head coach Aaron Milan preached that winning weeks in Summer ball was vital; the Saints went 5-0 this week. After a shaky first week of CCL play, a perfect week is exactly what this team needed.
The Saints are back in action Tuesday night against the MLB Academy Barons in Compton. Tune into the matchup live on our Youtube Channel!
- Saints Reporter Bennett Snyder (Ohio University)
- Saints Photographer Sonny Tapia (Cal State Long Beach)