Arroyo Seco Saints find unfamiliar fate

COMPTON — As far as frontiers go, there just aren’t many places the Arroyo Seco Saints 18U summer baseball team hasn’t been, especially in the postseason.

Yet, the Saints are in unfamiliar territory as the defending Palomino West Zone champions will have to defend their crown from the consolation bracket, as Arroyo Seco, which includes nine local players, fell in opening-round bracket action, 3-1, to the visiting PAL Giants of San Jose at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton on Friday afternoon.

“I was talking to the team and the last time we had lost in the first round of any tournament was in 2006 to the San Gabriel Valley Babe Ruth team at Arcadia High,” said Arroyo Seco skipper Aaron Milam, who doubles as St. Francis High head coach in the spring.

“This was a textbook baseball game, 3-1, where you need to give your pitchers some rope with some runs and timely hits and we didn’t do that. We also made some inexplicable plays on defense that were also huge.”

With the defeat, Arroyo Seco (26-5) moves into the loser’s bracket and will play Saturday at 1:30 p.m. versus either the Arcadia Astros or host Urban Youth Academy, now needing to win five consecutive games over four days.

As for Friday, the PAL Giants delivered the dagger via a two-run top of the seventh, which broke a tie at 1.

With one out in the inning, Giants leadoff batter DJ Santellano slapped a first-pitch fastball into left field for a single versus Arroyo Seco reliever Nate Rousey, a one-time Crescenta Valley High product and current Glendale Community College player.

The hit of the game came during the next at-bat, when right fielder Peter Perez laced a triple down the third-base line into no-man’s land in the left-field corner that plated Santellano with the winning run.

“That hit was inexcusable. When you’re in a tied game, you’re always guarding against the double and for our third baseman to be playing off the line is a mistake,” Milam said. “Those are the plays that as a high school coach, I just hope we learn from.”

The triple became twice as damaging when Giants third baseman DJ Cortez (three for four with two RBI) singled in Perez to put the visitors up, 3-1.

Those two runs held up in the bottom half of the seventh, as Arroyo Seco was denied when a one-out single from Mitchell Gallagher was followed up by a 4-3 game-ending double play, the third such twin killing by the Saints.

“As a team, we just didn’t get the hits today and help our pitchers out,” Saints right fielder Josh Clark said. “We missed our opportunities.”

Overall, Arroyo Seco batted one for five with runners in scoring position with one RBI.

That hit came from Clark, who put the Saints ahead, 1-0, in the bottom of the fourth with a run-scoring single past a drawn-in infield that plated Corey Dempster, who began the inning with a double.

The Giants responded in the next inning when No. 9 batter Joseph Olmos, who singled and advanced two bases on a sacrifice and infield out, came home on a clutch two-out single from Cortez.

Part of the reason for the limited offense Friday was stout pitching on both sides, highlighted by a complete-game effort from PAL Giants hurler Erik Barron, who allowed one earned run on five hits, while fanning six batters.

Saints starting pitcher Jeff Bain of San Marino High tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits, fanning five batters and keeping the Giants 0 for four with runners in scoring position with three strikeouts.

His replacement, Rousey, took the hard-luck loss in allowing two runs on five hits over 3 1/3 innings with two strikeouts.

Locally, Troy Prasertsit (Crescenta Valley) singled in going one for three, while Patrick Adams (Crescenta Valley) finished 0 for three.

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