COMPTON — Within one hit of seeing a banner season shockingly conclude, the Arroyo Seco Saints 18U baseball team collected consecutive outs and came through with a 5-4 victory versus the host Urban Youth Academy team in West Zone Palomino Tournament action Saturday afternoon.
“This became an emotional game and it shouldn’t have been,” Saints skipper Aaron Milam said. “When you have an opportunity to knock out a team, you do and we just didn’t do that.”
With the victory, defending tournament champion Arroyo Seco (27-5) punched its ticket to Sunday’s second-chance bracket elimination game versus the either nearby Arcadia Astros or the PAL Giants.
Despite being thoroughly dominated throughout most of the contest, the Urban Youth Academy only trailed, 5-2, heading to the top of the seventh.
The Urban Youth Academy put itself back in contention when its first batter of the inning, Trent Hammond, reached on an error at third base that broke a streak of 16 straight retired by Arroyo Seco.
The error was followed by a walk to Phillip Pendegrast and a single from Romero Harris that loaded the bases with no outs and led to Milam pulling reliever Nick Shur (Glendale Community College) in favor of Christian Keamy, who immediately fanned Wis Estrada.
However, Keamy struggled right after the strikeout and walked the following two batters to force in two runs and bring the Urban Youth Academy within 5-4.
“I was just trying to be too fine there instead of just pitching,” Keamy said. “With the last two batters, I made my pitches.”
Keamy bounced back from the brink with a strikeout and pop up to escape the jam and salvage Arroyo Seco’s season.
Arroyo Seco responded to an early 2-0 deficit after a half inning with a three-run bottom of the first.
A one-out triple from left fielder Brandon Caruso into the left-field corner was cashed in on a two-out single from Chris Devito. The hit was followed by a single from JJ Muno and a walk to Josh Clark that loaded the bases for Crescenta Valley High product Troy Prasertsit.
The Saints’ center fielder dropped a ball into the hole between center and short that scored two as Arroyo Seco went up, 3-2.
Prasertsit’s hit was part of an early trend for the Saints, who began the game four for six with runners in scoring position with five RBI.
Second-inning singles from Cameron Silva (Crescenta Valley) and Ryan Dobson were turned into runs on a sacrifice fly from Caruso and a run-scoring single from Corey Dempster as Arroyo Seco surged ahead, 5-2.
“I just think we relaxed after scoring five runs and took the foot off the gas,” Caruso said. “We can’t do that Sunday.”
The Saints went 0 for five with runners in scoring position after scoring a fifth run, while eventually stranding 11 batters.