PASADENA — Kamran Young doesn’t like dramatic victories. He’d prefer to have an easier go of it.
None of that stopped Young from driving in the winning run in the Arroyo Seco Saints’ first-round 4-3 victory in the Palomino SoCal Regional Baseball Tournament against Covina on Friday night at Jackie Robinson Field.
Young came up big in the clutch. He faced a 2-2 count with two outs and a runner on third base in the bottom of the sixth inning. He stayed back and drove a pitch to left field with two outs and a runner on third in the bottom of the sixth. His RBI single was the difference in the game, which went down to the wire.
"[Young’s] done that multiple times for us this year,” said Saints Coach Aaron Milam, who’s also a St. Francis High assistant. “That isn’t something new for him and we have tremendous confidence when he comes up in those situations.”
Even with the pressure turned up, Young stayed calm.
“I just wanted to stay relaxed and put the ball in play,” Young said.
The win puts the Saints in action at 7:30 p.m. today in the second round of the double-elimination tournament against the Jayhawks at the same venue.
Arroyo Seco struggled at the start Friday night. The Saints’ starting pitcher, Matt Lathuras, gave up lead-off singles in each of the first three innings. He paid for it the top of the third after he loaded the bases without an out via a single, walk and fielding error. Covina went up 2-0 on a RBI groundout from JJ Franklin and a wild pitch.
“We are a bipolar team,” said Milam, whose team committed three errors. “We will hit the ball hard and then boot the ball twice — it’s nothing new.”
The Saints tied it in their half of the third, though, turning a walk, hit by pitch, two singles and a squeeze bunt into two runs. David Olmeda-Barrera, a St. Francis High product, drove in a run with a one-out single with runners on second and third. The tying run came around to score on a successful bases-loaded squeeze bunt from Steven Karkenny.
The St. Francis products kept producing for the Saints, as Brandon Van Horn brought in KC Huth, who reached base on a single and stole second and third, to score with a RBI single of his own. The hit put Arroyo Seco up, 3-2.
“It feels good to see your high school guys have some success,” Milam said. “The credit goes all around, though. There are a lot of players from all over the Mission League on this team.”
Covina answered back and knotted the game without so much as a hit in the top of the sixth inning. The visitors loaded the bases with two walks and an error to start the inning. Nick Hernandez popped out to right field and drove in the tying run when the Saints right fielder dropped the ball as he transitioned it from his glove to throwing hand, trying to gun down the runner headed for home. The error tied the game at 3.
It all just set the stage for Young’s sixth-inning heroics, though. Moses Walker and Jack Sheeley led the inning off with a single and double, respectively. Huth grounded out and Van Horn laid down a squeeze bunt that went straight to Covina’s pitcher and Walker was thrown out at the plate.
Young saved the day, working his way to a 2-2 count, fouling off two pitches before he drove an outside fastball to right field for the go-ahead and winning run. He won’t mind a bigger margin of victory tomorrow, though.
“One-run ball games are no fun,” Young said. “Hopefully, we can mercy a few teams here. That’s always fun”