Arroyo Seco Saints march on to Palomino West Zone tournament

PASADENA — Elliot Surrey patiently defused a potentially explosive situation on the mound for the Arroyo Seco Saints before teammate Tei Vanderford dropped a bomb on the Arcadia Astros in Tuesday night's Palomino League Southern California Region championship game at Jackie Robinson Field.

The UC Irvine-bound Surrey, a recent Crescenta Valley High graduate, doubled and scored a run and nailed down a two-inning save in the 4-0 win that included a key two-run triple from St. Francis' Vanderford in the sixth inning.

The win vaulted the Saints, who are coached by St. Francis Coach Aaron Milam and feature players from CV, St. Francis and Glendale Community College, into the West Zone tournament as the region's top seed, where they will open play against the Lacey Rainiers of Washington on at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton.

"It was real good baseball," Milam said of his team's shutout effort. "You get to this level and that's what you get, these guys are going on to college and you expect good baseball from them. We're happy the way that it worked out."

Surrey relieved Saints starter Corey Copping, who tossed five sharp innings with just one hit allowed, in the top of the sixth with a 2-0 lead, but was immediately greeted with some bad luck.

Leadoff batter Nick Wagner's soft flare over first base found a patch of grass between three converging Saints fielders for a single and even though Surrey had Wagner dead to rights on a pickoff throw moments later, the Astros catcher ended up on second base with no outs by way of a throwing error.

A ground ball moved Wagner to third with one out, but Surrey kept the shutout intact by rallying from a 3-1 count to strike out Nolan Henley swinging before catching Martin Gallegos looking for the final out of the inning.

"Errors will happen in a game, you can't really avoid those," said Surrey, who allowed a hit and a walk while striking out three in his two innings of work. "You just have to let it go and just keep working and just work your way out of the situation pitch by pitch. We put ourselves in that situation, so we have to use teamwork to get out of it."

The Saints doubled the lead in the bottom half of the sixth when first baseman Chris Devito drew a one-out walk, followed with a hit by pitch. Vanderford smashed the second pitch he saw from Astros reliever Brad Felty over the medium-range outfield and to the left-field fence on one hop to plate two runs, while he ended up on third base.

"Honestly, with a man on first and second, I was just trying to do my job, get the runners over," Vanderford said. "The ball just kept on carrying.

"[It gives us] huge momentum. This whole tournament our team has just been doing the best we've ever done offensively and putting up runs every single game for our pitchers."

The Saints broke the scoreless tie in the third inning, when Surrey led off with a double and scored on a two-out single by Glendale college's Sergio Plasencia.

In the bottom of the fifth, Crescenta Valley graduate Troy Prasertsit started a two-out rally by reaching base on an error and scored when Cal State Fullerton-bound St. Francis High graduate David Olmedo-Barrera doubled to deep right field.

The Saints also feature Cam Silva and Patrick Adams from Crescenta Valley, as well as St. Francis' Brandon Van Horn.

The Astros, who feature Crescenta Valley's Ted Boeke and Flintridge Prep's Karlsen Termini, also advance to the West Zone tournament by virtue of their runner-up finish in Southern California and will also open at 1:30 on Friday in Compton against the second seed from Northern California.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World