COMPTON — If there was one comfort for the Arroyo Seco Saints 19U summer baseball team heading into Saturday afternoon’s elimination contest of the Palomino World Series Tournament, it may have been that the Saints had found themselves in a similar setting a week before.
Arroyo Seco, which rallied to a West Zone Tournament title earlier this week, bounced back in its bid to win the World Series with an impressive 14-1 victory over the Central Michigan Stars in second-chance bracket action at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy.
“We said before this game that we had to go after it right away, we couldn’t hang around and let Michigan hang around,” said Arroyo Seco skipper Aaron Milam, who is also the head coach at St. Francis High. “We did a pretty good job of jumping on the ball earlier and getting out to a good lead.”
With the victory, Arroyo Seco (33-6) earned advancement to Saturday evening’s second-chance game versus the Bayamon Vaqueros of Puerto Rico.
The contest was a rematch of Friday’s affair, which the Vaqueros won, 16-4, in five innings. Saturday evening’s game finished past deadline and a full report can be found now at glendalenewspress.com/sports.
Arroyo Seco, which rallied for five straight wins after dropping the opener of the West Zone Tournament on July 26, picked up what it’s hoping is the first of four wins over a three-day stretch in the World Series.
While Arroyo Seco scored six runs through the first three innings in taking a 6-1 advantage, the Saints didn’t deliver a knockout punch until the fifth when the squad scored four runs in going up 10-1.
A leadoff single from Chris Devito (two for three with a double and two runs) appeared to go wasted as the Stars recorded two quick outs.
Yet, the Saints’ offense exploded with five consecutive hits, the first a run-scoring double to left from former Crescenta Valley High product Troy Prasertsit that was proceeded by a single from Pat Adams (Crescenta Valley).
“Today was a new day and we were planning on playing two games, so we wanted to win quickly,” said Prasertsit, who finished two for three with a double, triple, three runs batted in and one run. “I was just trying to put the ball in play and get the barrel right out in front.”
With runners on the corners, catcher Carter Hodge (two for four with a homer, double, three RBI and two runs) laced a double to center that scored Prasertsit and Adams and pushed the visitors ahead, 9-1.
Carter then scored his team’s final run of the inning on a single from Ryan Dobson (RBI and run) as the Saints led 10-1.
While the Saints came up shy of forcing the mercy rule in the fifth, there was no such problem in the sixth as Arroyo Seco scored four runs, the final coming on a 340-foot blast from Hodge that bounced off the stadium scoreboard.
“It was awesome. I’ve never hit a homer off the scoreboard,” Hodge said. “The great thing was that our pitching was great. We really found the zone, kept the ball down and made some pitches.”
Josh Clark (three for four, two doubles, three RBI and two runs) also delivered a two-run double in the inning that scored Andy Frakes and Leo Hernandez, while Adams plated Clark with a sacrifice fly.
Arroyo Seco opened with three runs in the first, highlighted by run-scoring doubles from Clark and DeVito, while the team added a run in the second, on a single from Brandon Caruso (three for three with a RBI and run), and two runs in the third thanks to a two-run triple from Prasertsit.
Overshadowed by the offensive display was a much-needed effort from starting pitcher Christian Keamy of Gonzaga.
Keamy allowed one run on one hit through four innings, while stranding three runners.