COMPTON — Faced with their first challenge within the West Zone Palomino Tournament, the Arroyo Seco Saints baseball team responded with force.
The Pasadena-based squad broke a tie heading into the bottom of the fourth with a three-run inning and never looked back en route to a 10-4 victory over Team Urban Youth Academy in Saturday afternoon’s action.
With the victory, Arroyo Seco (30-4-1) clinched a berth into Sunday’s tournament quarterfinal at 4:30 p.m. back at the Urban Youth Academy.
“We’ve played well through two games and we’ve built a lot of confidence,” said Arroyo Seco Coach Aaron Milam, whose team opened the tournament with a 9-0 win Friday. “We have some great pitchers and our concern going into this tournament was our offense, because of the switch from wood bats [to aluminum bats]. But, so far so good.”
Arroyo Seco broke open a stalemate at 3 through the middle of the fourth with seven straight runs, three of which were scored in the fourth.
In fact, the first four hitters in the fourth — Jonah Jarrard, Josh Clark, Patrick Adams (Crescenta Valley High) and David Olmedo-Barrera (St. Francis) — all connected on consecutive singles that accounted for two runs.
Adams, who smacked the third of the those four hits, later scored on a safety squeeze from Brandon Van Horn (St. Francis) that put the home team up, 6-3.
Arroyo Seco’s three-run fourth was followed by a fourth-run fifth that included two runs scoring via a wild pitch and a throwing error. Clark also drove home St. Francis’ Tei Vanderford on a sacrifice fly and Van Horn (two RBI) scored fellow former Golden Knight Olmedo-Barrera (two runs and two RBI) with a single to center.
“We’re all swinging the bats really well, especially coming from wood bats,” Olmedo-Barrera said. “We jumped all over the pitching so far and have been aggressive at the plate.”
Up 10-3, the Saints’ momentum was only slightly interrupted in the sixth when the Urban Youth Academy plated a run on a walk, error and consecutive singles all with two outs.
Saints reliever Cody Thompson squashed the uprising, though, by inducing a pop out to third base from LaShanta Grimes.
Arroyo Seco started the game with a run in the first when Cal State Fullerton-bound Olmedo-Barrera led off with a single, advanced to second on an error and came home on a single from Sergio Plasencia (Glendale Community College).
The Saints added two runs in the third on a triple from Corey Sims, who scored on a single from Troy Prasertsit (Crescenta Valley), who crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly to center from Olmedo-Barrera.
Perhaps lost in the offensive output, was a solid effort by Saints starting pitcher Elliot Surrey, formerly of Crescenta Valley, who tossed three scoreless innings and fanned five, while allowing one hit.
“I found my control in that second inning and got going from there,” Surrey said. “I just went out and tried to throw first-pitch strikes and not really strike anyone out, but just get outs and let my defense do the work.”
Trailing 3-0, the Urban Youth Academy plated three runs in the top of the fourth, with two coming on a double from Gerald Taylor, who scored on sacrifice fly from Grant Shapiro that knotted the game at 3.