Saints march off to Compton

GLENDALE — Other than a bit of tinkering to the roster, the members of the Arroyo Seco Saints baseball team don't plan on changing anything.

One thing will hopefully remain the same for the Saints — solid pitching that's backed by a lineup capable of putting up crooked numbers at the drop of a hat.

Fresh off reaching the championship game of the Southern California Regional Palomino League Regional Tournament, the Saints will continue to rely heavily on that successful formula when they take part in the West Zone Tournament.

Arroyo Seco, which has three St. Francis High athletes, will face Arizona's Ahwatukee Sting at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in an opening-round contest at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton.

The West Zone Tournament will consist of eight teams participating in a double-elimination tournament, which will conclude Tuesday with a championship game. Four teams from the Southern California Tournament — Arroyo Seco, the Southern California Rangers, Colton Nighthawks and West Covina Smashers —will be joined by Arizona, the San Mateo White Sox, the Urban Youth Academy and Enumclaw BC of Washington.

"There will be some real good competition," said Arroyo Seco Coach Aaron Milam, whose team suffered an 8-6 loss to Colton in the championship game of the Southern California championship on Tuesday at Jackie Robinson Field. "We have a lot of standout players, but not that one star.

"That's good. We have a very good hitting team and we find a way to put the ball in play. Our arms were dragging a bit in the championship game, but it's still going to be one of our strengths."

The Saints will compete without outfielder/pitcher A.J. Berglund. Milam, a St. Francis assistant, said Berglund, a St. Francis graduate, suffered a quadriceps injury during Tuesday's game and plans to attend summer school at UC Santa Barbara. They might also be without pitcher Tyler Johnson, who is battling an arm injury. Johnson pitched one inning in the Southern California Tournament.

Should they be without Johnson, there's still plenty of depth on the 18-member roster for Milam to choose to pitch or insert into the lineup. Among those include David Hubinger and Mark Saatzer. Hubinger, a senior at St. Francis, will serve as a catcher. Saatzer, a St. Francis graduate, will see time at first base and outfield.

Saatzer, who will attend Chapman University in the fall, said the Saints will look to sustain the momentum they built from the Southern California Tournament.

"We've been coming back the whole season," Saatzer said. "We just want to keep playing our own game and we know what we are going to do.

"Our pitching and defense have both been solid. It just depends on when our hitting starts to click."

The tournament winner will advance to the eight-team Palomino League World Series, which will be held Aug. 6-9 in San Jose.

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