Short-handed Arroyo Seco Saints come up short in West Zone final

COMPTON — Arroyo Seco Saints Coach Aaron Milam wasn’t too concerned after his Palomino Baseball team fell in the championship game of the West Zone Tournament.

Having already clinched a spot in the Palomino Little League World Series, about half of the members of the Saints were absent from Tuesday’s title game against Urban Youth Academy because of previous engagements.

Still, Arroyo Seco fielded the minimum nine players and fell, 11-7, at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy.

“Honestly, this game was anticlimactic,” said Milam, whose team features a handful of players from St. Francis High and Glendale Community College. “Urban Youth Academy and our team knew we were advancing to the World Series, so this was a chance to work on some things and get in some at-bats and we were out of arms having played so many elimination games in the tournament.

“Now, we gear up for the World Series and will see what happens next.”

Arroyo Seco will take part in an opening-round game against the South Zone champion at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the same venue. It will mark the third straight season that the Saints have participated in the prestigious event. The Saints won three elimination games, including a clinching 3-2 win Monday, to move on.

On Tuesday, Urban Youth Academy led the entire way and rolled up 17 hits against six Arroyo Seco pitchers. By comparison, the Saints collected six hits against a pair of Urban Youth Academy pitchers.

Urban Youth Academy took a 1-0 lead in the second and scored twice in the third on run-scoring hits by Richard Samudio and Eric Whitfield to extend the lead to 3-0.

Arroyo Seco sliced the deficit to 3-1 in the third on a run-scoring single by Marco Rivas. A three-run home run by Samudio gave Urban Youth Academy a 6-1 lead in the fourth.

A groundout by Kevin Baker (St. Francis) scored Dustin Shirley from third to pull Arroyo Seco to within 6-2 in the fourth. Shirley led off the inning with a double.

Urban Youth made it 7-2 in the fifth before scoring three runs in the sixth to pad the advantage to 10-2. Laurence Taylor had a two-run single to cap the inning.

The Saints, who finished 4-2 in the tournament, got an RBI single from Baker in the sixth and scored four runs in the seventh to close out the scoring. An error by the shortstop allowed the Saints to score a run to make it 11-4. Frankie Garriola then hit a three-run home run to left-center field to make it 11-7.

Samudio came within a double of hitting for the cycle.

Baker, who earned All-Mission League first-team accolades last season with St. Francis, said the Saints got a lot of things accomplished in the tournament that might help them prepare for the World Series.

“It’s amazing to get this far and then be able to take part in the World Series,” Baker said. “We got in some good at-bats.”

Rivas, Garriola and Andres Kim, who secured All-Mission League second-team recognition last season with St. Francis, each finished with a pair of hits Tuesday.

“Now we can look forward to being in the World Series,” said Kim, the lone returner from last season’s team that advanced to the semifinals in the World Series. “It’s another great opportunity.”

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