Week 7 Recap: Saints Grab #1 Seed in the South For 2023 CCL PlayoffsBy Arroyo Seco Saints August 01, 2023 05:54pm
PASADENA, CA – After a shaky start to the week at home against the Blues, the Arroyo Seco Saints recovered in a big way. Knowing the #1 seed in the South Division was up for grabs, the Saints’ loss on Tuesday put their backs against the wall.
On Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo Blues hopped off a long bus ride and accomplished something they had not done all season; they defeated the Saints. While winning a season series against an opponent 6-1 is never something to hang your head on, a win Tuesday against the Blues would have tied the Saints with the Orange County Riptide for the top seed in the division.
Luckily, on Wednesday, the Arroyo Seco Saints hopped off a long bus ride and accomplished something they had not done all season; they defeated the Riptide. Although it was only their first win against Orange County all season, it came at the biggest moment. Trailing the Riptide by one game heading into this matchup, Carter Herrera (Cal State San Bernardino) delivered one of his best starts of the season.
The right-hander pitched the first six innings of this matchup, his longest outing of the season. He allowed no runs, no walks, only five hits, and struck out five batters. On paper, his outing looks relatively risk-free, but Herrera faced a jam in the first inning of this matchup. With runners on second and third and no outs in the inning, Herrera was able to battle back and escape the inning without allowing a run.
After shutting down the Riptide’s golden opportunity in the first, the Saints grabbed all momentum in this ballgame. The Saints would score four runs in the top of the second. Back-to-back-to-back RBI base hits by Spencer Rasmussen (Azusa Pacific), Tommy Golbranson (Undecided), and Jared Quandt (Hawaii) had this offense humming early.
By the time Carter Herrera left the mound after his six innings of work, the Saints had a commanding 6-0 lead. Runs in the top half of the seventh and eighth would extend their lead even further, but a late rally by the Riptide would close the gap. In the end, the Saints would win this matchup 8-4.
With three games left for both teams in the regular season, and the two tied atop the CCL South, the Saints needed some help to secure that top seed. Since the Riptide held the tiebreaker over the Saints, the Saints needed Orange County to drop one of their three games against the San Luis Obispo Blues. On the flip side, Arroyo Seco needed to handle business in a three-game series against the MLB Academy Barons.
In the series’ first game against the Barons, the Saints won 14-1, a complete and dominant performance. Murphy Brooks (Louisiana) made his second start of the season and did not waste the opportunity. Brooks pitched the first five innings of this contest scoreless while also striking out seven batters.
Run support came early and often in this game. Kyte McDonald (Rice) and Chase Meggers (Oregon) highlighted the offensive showcase in this one, both posting three-hit nights. The most impressive stat for the Saints in this one is that six of the nine batters in their lineup recorded an RBI; it was a complete team effort in this win.
On Friday, the Saints kept their bats hot. The trio of Jordan Rogers (Wichita State), Kyte McDonald, and Alex Birge (Wichita State) combined for five home runs on the road in Compton. The team topped their 14-run performance the night before with a 15-run performance in this one.
Once again, dominant starting pitching got the Saints going in this one. In his first start of the Summer, Hayden Lewis (New Mexico State) grabbed ten strikeouts, the most by a Saints’ starter all season. Lewis would go on to get the win in this matchup, exiting the game after five innings pitched.
With the Saints winning 15-2 Friday night, the Riptide needed a win to keep their hold on the #1 seed. Facing a San Luis Obispo Blues team fighting for a playoff spot, the Riptide dropped game one of the three-game series 2-5. With that loss, the Saints finally controlled their destiny. In their final regular season game of the Summer, a win Saturday would catapult them into the #1 seed.
Unsurprisingly, the Saints stepped up to the plate and took care of business. The Saints had the home run ball working again in this win Saturday, as Kyte McDonald and Spencer Rasmussen both put one over the centerfield fence at Jackie Robinson Memorial Field.
With a final score of 5-0, the Saints bats and pitching staff could not be more confident heading into the postseason. The Saints will await the winner of the Orange County Riptide and the Conejo Oaks; the winner of that game heads to Pasadena for a Wednesday night matchup against the Saints.
First pitch for the playoff battle Wednesday is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. PST. Tune into the matchup live on our Youtube Channel!
- Saints Reporter Bennett Snyder (Ohio University)
- Saints Photographer Sonny Tapia (Cal State Long Beach)