Santa Barbara, Once Again, Is the Elite Team in the CCL, Claim 21st League Title

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Updated: August 1, 2016

July 31, 2016
Compton, CA
Zach Esquivel (Rice)
was perfect for five-plus innings, Hunter Williams (Tulane) and Tyler Adkison (San Diego St) each homered, and Bret Boswell (Texas) stayed red-hot at the plate as the Santa Barbara Foresters beat the Conejo Oaks 5-2 today at the MLB Urban Youth Academy to win the 2016 California Collegiate League Championship. It was the Foresters 21st league championship in the 24-year history of the CCL, its first league playoff championship and their first outright championship since 2011. Co-Champions with the San Luis Obispo Blues in 2012 and 2013 when Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo finished with identical league records, the league adopted a playoff format to determine its champion beginning in 2014 but, because the dates of the playoffs coincided with the NBC World Series in Wichita, KS, the Foresters chose to not compete in the playoffs in lieu of playing for the tournament championship in Wichita, a tournament they have won five times since 2006 and which has cemented the perception that Santa Barbara is the top summer collegiate program in the country. But, this year, partly because the dates of the NBC World Series were adjusted to start in August, and partly because the 2016 calendar provided favorable conditions for the CCL to finish its playoffs by the end of July, the Foresters were able to participate in both the CCL playoffs and the NBC tournament and, once again, they proved, without a doubt in anyone’s mind who were present at the playoffs, they are best team in the CCL. And the “why” Santa Barbara was so good this year was pitching.
Three starting pitchers, Kyle Johnston (Texas), Connor Mayes (Texas) and Esquivel were dominant in each of the three playoff games Santa Barbara needed to win the championship. Johnston threw seven shutout innings on Friday as the Foresters beat the Neptune Beach Pearl in the first round of the playoffs, Mayes matched that and threw seven shutout innings Saturday in Santa Barbara’s win over the Oaks, and Esquivel faced the minimum number of batters, 17 up-17 down, through five and two-thirds innings before Dallas Tessar (Washington) bunted for the Oaks first hit. All three of the Foresters starters were selected to the CCL All-Playoff team and Esquivel finished his outing today with six strikeouts over six-plus innings and allowed one run on five hits and one walk.
The only player who was more dominant than Santa Barbara’s pitchers was Boswell. The shortstop from Texas had five hits, including two doubles, and four RBI in the Foresters three playoff games, and when he opened the scoring in today’s championship game with a two-run double in the third inning, his selection as the 2016 CCL Playoffs MVP was all but assured. While Boswell’s run production was the opening for the Foresters scoring, Williams’ home run, a two-run blast over the left-field wall which drove in Boswell in the next at bat, and Adkison’s solo home run, an even further blast over the left-field wall in the fourth inning were the exclamation points. All five runs were scored off Oaks starting pitcher Cody Thompson (San Diego St), who struck out seven over five innings.
Conejo did eventually get to Esquivel in the sixth inning when Corey Pool (UNLV) drove in Chad Spanberger (Arkansas), who had walked to lead off the inning and was advanced into scoring position by a Chad Bible (San Diego St) single, with an RBI-single. Jake Arledge (Arkansas) hit a solo home run over the left field wall off of Santa Barbara’s first reliever into the game, Tanner Lawson (Houston), in the eighth inning to make the score 5-2, but Conejo would get no closer as Blake Smith (Mississippi State) pitched a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts to earn the save for Santa Barbara. See the boxscore/recap of this game here.

2016 CCL All-Playoff Team
Kyle Johnston (Texas), P Santa Barbara
Connor Mayes (Texas), P Santa Barbara
Zach Esquivel (Rice), P Santa Barbara

Steven Coe (UC San Diego), best defensive Catcher, Santa Barbara
Hunter Williams (Tulane), 1B Santa Barbara
Max Weinstein (Cal Lutheran), 2B Conejo Oaks
Kyle Sanchez (Cal), 3B Conejo Oaks
Bret Boswell (Texas), SS Santa Barbara
Clayton Andrews (Cabrillo JC), OF Neptune Beach
Keyon Allen (UNLV), OF Academy Barons
Ernie De la Trinidad (UNLV), OF Academy Barons
Chad Bible (San Diego St), OF Conejo Oaks
Jake Arledge (Arkansas), OF Conejo Oaks
Matt Henderson (Florida St), OF Santa Barbara
Chad Spanberger (Arkansas), DH Conejo Oaks

MVP – Bret Boswell (Texas), SS Santa Barbara

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