Photo Credit: Christina Thai

By CCL Reporter Dylan Wickman

The Healdsburg Prune Packers, defending CCL champions of the last two seasons, found themselves in vulnerable territory Saturday in George “Sparky” Anderson Field. They trailed 4-2 in the seventh inning with their hopes of a threepeat threatened to be washed away by the Arroyo Seco Saints, a team determined to taste the glory of a champion for the first time in franchise history. However, the Packers, knowing they had to leave all their chips on the table, came crashing back, scoring three runs in the inning before holding on to the crucial win to keep their season alive.

“We’re pretty good with our back against the wall,” Prune Packers head coach Joey Gomes said. “I told (the team) a couple of stories that we’re no strangers to this deal down here, that we have lost on the first day too many times, but sometimes adversity and pressure (makes) you come together, and the guys came together, and we played nine solid innings today.” 

Healdsburg won 5-4 in a thrilling contest where both finalists displayed the dominance that got them here on both sides of the ball. The Prune Packers received contributions on offense from infielders Connor Charpiot (Long Beach State) and Hunter Dorraugh (San Jose State), who each had three hits and combined for three RBI, while the bullpen helped seal the deal. Infielder Spencer Rasmussen (Azusa Pacific University) was vital for the Saints’ attack, going 2-for-4 with a home run, while RHP Hayden Lewis (New Mexico State) was just as important on the mound, throwing four shutout innings. 

The Saints’ momentum from the emphatic game 1 win immediately carried into this contest as they produced a statement start in the first inning. After infielder Raider Tello (Iowa) hit a double with one out remaining, fellow infielder Rasmussen crushed a ball 384 feet to put Arroyo Seco up two. Rasmussen, who batted a blistering .474 in his five regular season games, had given his squad a commanding early lead in the most important game of the season.  

But the Packers, not to be outdone, utilized small ball to match the Saint’s score in the bottom of the inning by producing two singles and a walk in the frame. It looked as though we would be in for a high-scoring affair between these two elite offenses, who were both top-four in runs scores this season The defenses of both squads went on lockdown for a considerable period to keep the scoring at bay.

The next four innings would see just five hits combined from both sides. The aforementioned Lewis and RHP Wyatt Tucker (Texas A&M) both recovered from their first-inning misfortunes to grind each offense to a halt. Lewis made his living with his fastball, consistently beating the Packers to the punch to keep runners off base. Tucker threw a variety of pitches to keep Arroyo Seco’s hitters off-balance and guessing. The two had five strikeouts a piece on the day and exerted tight control over the game.

But the momentum would again shift in the sixth inning, and it would be the Saints to take the initiative once more. Arroyo Seco put two runners on base with no outs and catcher Chase Meggers (Oregon) took advantage, lining an RBI single into right field that perfectly split the difference between the sideline and the first baseman, breaking the seal in the score. The Saints added another run via a sacrifice fly to give themselves a two-run cushion. Arroyo Seco now put themselves in a prime position to win the game and the season as they had been one step ahead of the defending champs throughout the series.

Tucker’s night was now finished, but Lewis would continue on the other end with his fastball that had been maneuvering around Healdsburg’s bats all day. The battle-tested Packers would not let him have it easy though and adapted well to his throws. 

With one out remaining, outfielder Damian Bravo hit an important double for both his team and himself, as it drove in Healdsburg’s third run of the game and logged his first hit in seven games. Dorraugh followed it up with a single deep into right field that let Bravo race to home plate for the tying score, where he let out a primal roar. Dorraugh talked after the game about what he saw to prevail at this pivotal moment. 

“I just understood that Lewis established his fastball early, and he established his fastball all game, and he was beating us with it, so I knew that he wanted to get ahead in that situation too,” Dorraugh said. “So I just felt like I needed to jump on it early, and luckily, it worked out.” 

But the Packers were not done, as Charpiot, the league leader in batting average, hit a single that sailed over the outfield’s heads to drive in the run that let the Packers take the lead. 

Now, it was the Saint’s turn to respond to the Packers, and they put themselves in a position to do so in the ninth inning. Meggers hit a single to put runners on first and second base with only one out remaining, which set himself up to be the game-winning run. RHP Brian McBroom (New Mexico) did not let the pressure get to him though, and extinguished the Saint’s last spark by drawing a flyout into right field. 

The Prune Packers have now evened the series with their gutsy performance, and the two squads will meet tomorrow at the same place to settle the series and the 30th year of the CCL once and for all. Dorraugh detailed how Packer’s mindset will not change after the win today, just as it did not after the loss on Friday. 

“We’ve got to go about our business the way we came at it today and the way we came at it yesterday and understand that it’s the last game of the summer,” Dorraugh said. “We got nothing to lose, so we might as well go home with a win,”

Photo Credit: Sonny Tapia

By Sam Nute

The Championship of every sport is the exclamation point to each season. Two teams meet at the end of a long regular season to decide it all. For the CCL’s 30th year, the CCL 30 State Championship has finally gotten underway, with the North Division Champion Healdsburg Prune Packers taking on the host and South Division Champion Arroyo Seco Saints. 

Winning back-to-back CCL League Championships, the Prune Packers are no strangers to this big stage and are attempting to be the first CCL team to three-peat since before 2013. The Saints are on the opposite end of the spectrum, making their first CCL League Championship appearance in franchise history. 

After going down early, the Saints, playing at home in Pasadena for the final time in 2023, defeated the Prune Packers 7-3 to take Game 1. 

“I didn’t really say much because I wanted this to be just like another game,” Saints head coach Aaron Milam said about his pregame message. “We get to play a home game at our place, and I didn’t really change the message. It’s ‘Win the Week’”

The first game of any baseball series is where both teams throw their best arms available. That was definitely the case for the Prune Packers, who threw left-handed pitcher Chris Stamos (Tennessee). After leading the CCL in strikeouts for the Saints in 2022, Stamos spent the summer in Healdsburg and continued his dominance. In 23 innings pitched, Stamos had a 0.78 ERA, allowing just two runs all season and striking out 34. 

On the mound for the Saints was righty Caleb Reyes (Cal Poly Pomona), who had a great season of his own. In seven starts, Reyes pitched to the tune of a 1.73 ERA, striking out 22 across 26 innings pitched and walking just five batters. 

After both starters pitched a clean first, it was the Prune Packers who drew blood first thanks to an RBI single from infielder Peyton Schulze (Cal) followed by an RBI double from infielder Travis Sanders (Texas Tech). One inning later, second baseman Hunter Dorraugh (San Jose State) parked one over the wall in left-center field, and the Prune Packers were up three after three. 

Through three innings, Stamos had struck out three and was cruising. However, that came to an end in the fourth as the Saints scored five runs, tripling Stamos’ runs allowed on the season. Arroyo Seco put the first four batters of the inning on base, including an RBI single from catcher Chase Meggers (Oregon). 

With the bases loaded and nobody out, Stamos was able to get the next two batters out by way of two strikeouts, but outfielder Connor Bradshaw (Pepperdine) crushed a grand slam over the right field fence, putting the Saints up 5-3.

“My first two at-bats, I was getting in my head and a little out in front,” Bradshaw said. “That at-bat, first pitch, I think I missed a fastball, and I was kind of sitting slider. Then he kind of hung a slider, and I just took a good swing at it.”

Armed with a two-run lead, Reyes settled down on the mound, limiting the damage to those three runs. He finished the night with 6.0 innings pitched, allowing eight hits but walking none and striking out three. 

Limited in pitching options this late in the season, Milam was hoping to get through the game with as few pitches as possible, so he handed the ball to his best weapon out of the pen. 

Right-handed pitcher Jacob Henderson (Iowa) was lights out in the regular season. In the regular season, Henderson amazingly allowed zero runs across 15 innings while surrendering just two baserunners all season and striking out 24. Making his first appearance since July 18th, Henderson was just as advertised, throwing three dominant innings, striking out three, and giving up just one hit. 

“I really just try to fill up the zone and just let the hitters do what they are gonna do,” Henderson said. “Once the ball is out of my hands, I can’t control it anymore, so I always let my defense work, and they did a great job as they have all season. That’s really all I try to do every time. 

“Jacob Henderson hasn’t given up a run all year, and that’s the second hit he’s given up all year,” Milam said. “He’s been absolutly lights out, and for us to be able to bring him in there to stop was huge (…) He’s got eyes of steel. He’s him, and he’s kind of loose and happy-go-lucky. Nothing really fazes him.”

The Saints added two more runs in the seventh, and Henderson earned the save as he closed out the 7-3 win. 

Friday was Milam’s birthday, and most Saints staff, friends and family were walking around postgame with birthday hats dawning their heads. Milam doesn’t see the point in celebrating because ‘I wanna get younger and not older,’ but besides that, he knows that the job isn’t finished. Going into Game 2, the message remains the same as before. Win the Week.

“We got to Wednesday against the Riptide, and it was ‘Win the Week,’” Milam said. “Now we have won two games, but we still have one more to go and Win the Week.”

Game 2 and the chance for the Saints to Win the Week will be Saturday, Aug. 5th at 2:00 pm PST in Thousand Oaks at Cal Lutheran University. 

By CCL Reporter Dylan Wickman

The CCL 30 State Championship is here in a matchup between a familiar face on this stage and a foe hungry to take their glory. From August 4-6, the Healdsburg Prune Packers will take on the Arroyo Seco Saints in a best-of-three series to battle for the CCL 30 trophy. The first game will be played on the Saint’s home turf at Jackie Robinson Memorial Stadium in Pasadena, while the second and possible third game will take place at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. Both teams have had to overcome obstacles to get to the final phase of the season. Read below to learn about each finalist’s journey and the players that have played a key part.

CCL North Division Champion // Healdsburg Prune Packers

Healdsburg is no stranger to this stage, as this is their third consecutive trip to the CCL State Championship, and they plan to succeed for a third consecutive time. They have reached this point by showing dominance on both sides of the ball. They have averaged 11.5 hits and eight runs per game this season while slashing .316/.407/.477 and have a team ERA of 2.51 and a WHIP of 1.13. 

They ended with a 26-9 record, good for the North Division Title, and a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

But their season did not come without adversity. They established themselves at the top of the league for most of the summer, starting 22-3 and going on a 14-game win streak at one point. However, they finished a lackluster 4-6 and held on to the No.1 seed by just one game. 

The team challenging them was the Walnut Creek Crawdads, who had Healdsburg’s number all summer long, winning five out of seven matchups against them. But the Packer’s experience and unfaltering offense proved superior in the CCL 30 North Divisional game when the two teams matched up once again, as Healdsburg won 10-7 to advance to the Championship.

The Prune Packers have made a name for themselves with an offense that features many dangerous hitters. 13 Packers batted above .300 this summer and three above .400. Infielder Connor Charpiot (Long Beach State) headlines Healdsburg’s attack and was one of the CCL’s best hitters all season long as he led the league in batting average. He slashed .410/.519/.602 while totaling 34 hits and 25 RBI in 83 at-bats and put together an impressive streak of 16 straight games with a hit. 

Outfielder Robbie Hamchuk’s (San Jose State) numbers are not far behind Charpiot’s, as he slashed .403/.474/.546 for the season. He led the league in hits with 48 and had 14 multi-hit games this summer. Outfielder Cameron Nickens (Houston) was tied for the lead in home runs in the CCL with six while also racking up 27 hits and 24 RBI. 

Outfielder Ivan Brethowr (UC Santa Barbara) is a recent addition to the team, playing his first game on July 18, but has already become one of its most important players. He went 14-for-39 while totaling a whopping five home runs in 10 games and was instrumental in the divisional win, going 2-for-3 with a two-run homer in the eighth. 

Southpaw Myles Patton (Long Beach State) was just as important on the other side of the ball during that game, pitching a scoreless 4.0 innings and tallying six strikeouts. He has been dependable all season long, tallying 39 strikeouts in eight games while sporting an ERA of 1.42 and a WHIP of 1.16. 

Fellow left-hander Christopher Stamos (Undecided) held a chillingly low 0.78 ERA this season and has conceded just 14 hits in 23.0 innings while striking out 34 batters. Another star on the mound for Healdsburg is right-handed pitcher Caden Bugarske, who posted a 1.00 ERA and WHIP in 25.1 innings this season – never giving up more than one earned run in an outing. 

RHP Robert Aivazian (Cal) has been a standout reliever throughout the summer, not conceding more than two hits in a single one of his 11 appearances, amassing a 1.05 WHIP. 

CCL South Division Champion // Arroyo Seco Saints

The Saints have had ups and downs this season but got hot at the right time to power them through to the State Championship. Contrary to the Packers, the Saints had a slow start to the summer but put together a late-season surge to secure a 21-14 record and the No.1 seed in the CCL South Division. 

Despite having one of the best-performing pitching staffs in the league, they held a modest 11-11 record through week 5 and were four games back of the first seed. However, Their offense then went on a tremendous hot streak, scoring 110 runs in 13 games to finish 10-3. Their hitters finished the season, slashing .281/.374/.397, while the pitching staff put up an ERA of 3.53 and a WHIP of 1.34. 

The Saints, like the Packers, had one team consistently standing in their way all summer: the Orange County Riptide. The ‘Tide were 6-1 vs. Arroyo Seco this season, with three of those games being one-run wins. The two met once again Divisional and this time, the Saints would be the ones to pull out a nailbiter, winning 1-0 to cash in their ticket to Championship. 

The Saints’ sizzling offense is headed by infielder Raider Tello (Iowa), who led the South in batting average. He slashed .378/.417.489 while racking up 34 hits in 90 at-bats. He had multiple hits in half of his 24 games this season, as well as four three-hit performances. Outfielder Max Blessinger led the team in both hits (36) and walks (19) while slashing .324/.427/.369. 

Outfielder Kyte Mcdonald (Rice) has improved as the season progressed, with three of his four home runs coming in the final six games of the regular season. His hot streak has continued into the postseason as he knocked the critical solo home run – his third in as many contests – that propelled the Saints to a Divisional Game victory. Infielder Spencer Rasmussen (Azusa Pacific) only played his first game for the Saints on July 25 but has already established himself as one of the team’s premier hitters. In just five games, he batted 9-for-19 with five doubles and a home run. 

The Saints’ pitching staff has been lockdown all season long, helping keep the team afloat early on when the offense hadn’t yet found its groove. Righty Carter Herrera (Cal State Fullerton) pitched 36.0 innings this season, the fourth-most in the league, but his performance never faltered. He had an ERA of 2.00 and a WHIP of 0.86 and came up huge in the Divisional Game, pitching 6.0 shutout innings while striking out five batters. 

Right-hander Caleb Reyes (Cal Poly Ponoma) didn’t give up a single earned run in his last 24.0, evidenced by his 1.73 ERA and .96 WHIP for the summer. RHP Jacob Henderson (Iowa) was nearly perfect as a reliever this season, surrendering just one hit in 15.0 innings while totaling 24 strikeouts. LHP Kevin Warunek (Longwood) is another strong bullpen arm for the Saints, sporting a 2.70 ERA in nine appearances. He recorded his second save of the season when closing out the Riptide in the Divisional Game. 

Photo Credit: Prune Packers

By Sam Nute

A little less than a week ago, on July 27, the Healdsburg Prune Packers exited Walnut Creek after a sweep knocked them out of first place in the CCL North Division for the first time since the beginning of the season. Six days later, the two teams faced off with a trip to the CCL 30 State Championship on the line. 

The last three years have been a period of Healdsburg Prune Packer dominance in the North Division. However, the Walnut Creek Crawdads proved to be a thorn in the side of the Prune Packers in 2023, winning five of the teams’ seven regular season matchups and pushing the North Division regular season title to the final day. 

Despite the push, the Prune Packers came out on top in the regular season by just half a game. In the North Divisional Round, Healdsburg set the record straight with a controlling 10-7 win, holding off a late charge from the Cardiac Crawdads and securing a chance to defend Healdsburg’s back-to-back CCL Championships. 

One thing the Crawdads had been very good at against the Prune Packers all season was stifling the dangerous Healdsburg lineup. In the regular season, the Packers scored 8.1, an average of runs per game, but against Walnut Creek, the Packers’ run production was cut in half to just 4.2 runs per game.

Making only his third appearance for the Prune Packers, RHP Pierce George (Texas) got the ball to start the game. However, George allowed the Crawdads to get on the board first, thanks to a passed ball. Healdsburg answered back in the bottom of the inning, scratching a run across against Crawdad starter RHP Dylan McShane (Oregon) on a balk. 

Over the next four innings, it was all Prune Packers as they raced out to an 8-1 lead, scoring multiple runs in the second, fourth and fifth innings. Outfielder Cameron Nickens (Houston) started multiple of the Prune Packers rallies and finished the night going 2-for-5 with a triple and an RBI. UTL Peyton Schulze (Cal) and catcher Kimble Schuessler both had good nights finishing with four hits and two RBI combined.

The stars of the show for the Prune Packers were undoubtedly ace LHP Myles Patton (Long Beach State) and OF/IF Ivan Brethowr (UC Santa Barbara). In the regular season, Patton was one of the feature arms on the Prune Packers staff, leading the team with 39 strikeouts in 25.1 innings.

Relieving George after just 1.1 innings, Patton danced through 6.1 scoreless innings, escaping multiple dangerous situations and striking out nine Crawdads. Walnut Creek shortstop Matt King (UTSA) hit a three-run homer, giving Patton three earned runs on his line, but by then, the Prune Packers had raced out to a seven-run lead. 

Brethowr joined the Prune Packers midway through the season and, since then, has been arguably their best player. In 39 bats, Brethowr slugged five homers and two doubles, slashing an eye-popping .359/.432/.795. On Wednesday, it was no different. After King’s homerun cut the lead to four in the top of the eighth, Brethowr slugged a two-run shot for his sixth home run of the year, extending the Prune Packer lead to six runs. He finished the night going 2-for-3 with a homer, a double, two RBI and three runs scored.

Throughout the season, the Crawdads adopted the nickname ‘Cardiac Crawdads’ for their propensity to never be quite out of a game. Down six in the ninth, they made for one more push as infielder Ryan Ellis (Texas Arlington) hit a bases-clearing three-RBI double to cut the lead in half, but that was all, ending the game 10-7. 

Finishing the season with a 25-10 record, 2023 was one of the best years in Crawdad franchise history, taking the North Division down to the final day and winning their first playoff game since 2014. 

Back in familiar territory, the Prune Packers return to the CCL State Championship for the third straight year, attempting to defend their back-to-back titles. Their opponent is the Arroyo Seco Saints, who beat the Orange County Riptide 1-0 in the South Divisional Round. Game One is Friday, August 4, at 6:05 pm, at Jackie Robinson Memorial Field in Pasadena, CA.

Photo Credit: Sonny Tapia

By CCL Reporter Sean Brennan

Both the Arroyo Seco Saints and Orange County Riptide had compelling cases for why each could win the CCL 30 South Divisional Round and reach the CCL 30 State Championship.

The ‘Tide came into Wednesday’s contest with some momentum, having defeated the Conejo Oaks in the CCL 30 Wild Card Game less than 24 hours earlier. Orange County also posted a 6-1 record against the Saints during the regular season, a feat that is extremely difficult for any team to accomplish.

However, the Riptide’s lone regular season loss to Arroyo Seco came just over a week ago on July 26, which came amid a torrid 13-game stretch that saw the Saints win 10 contests and plate an astounding 110 runs heading into the postseason.

Despite seemingly having no trouble scoring over the past two weeks, it was Arroyo Seco’s pitching that sealed a berth in the State Championship series. Three arms – righty Carter Herrera (Cal State Fullerton) along with left-handers Peyton Cariaco (Kent State) and Kevin Warunek (Longwood) – combined to shut out the Riptide, holding the opposition to five hits in a 1-0 victory.

During the regular season, Arroyo Seco’s pitching numbers were among the CCL’s best, as it recorded the third-lowest team ERA (3.53) and WHIP (1.34) in the entire league. So when the Saints put together yet another dominant performance on the mound, it came as no surprise to head coach Aaron Milam.

“For the whole season, our pitchers have given us a chance to win,” Milam said. “In 20 years, it’s the best pitching staff that we’ve ever had as a whole, because every day, there’s a guy to go. When you come out of the pen, there’s a guy equally as good. Very validating that it’s a shutout victory.”

Herrera, who started in his seventh game of the summer, has established himself as one of Arroyo Seco’s best pitchers, finishing the regular season with a 2.00 ERA while leading the team in strikeouts (35) and innings pitched (36.0). The rising sophomore tossed six scoreless frames of three-hit ball on Wednesday, and once again proved his strong outings are a gift that keeps on giving.

“Carter Herrera is has been the most consistent pitcher we’ve had,” Milam said. “In every start that Carter’s had, he’s given us a chance to win… That’s been Carter all year – consistent. And if and when there’s a small situation where there’s jams, he pitches his way out. Couldn’t have asked for anything more from Carter Herrera this year.”

But the Saints’ offense also ran into a hot starter in righty Matthew Maloney (UNLV), the reigning CCL Pitcher of the Year. Aside from a pair of leadoff singles conceded, Maloney enjoyed one of his best starts of the season and accrued three strikeouts in 2.0 innings of work, a solid performance that set the tone for right-handed reliever Brett Garcia (Baylor).

Out of the gate, Garcia picked up right where Maloney left off, and retired the first six Saints he faced. This streak was promptly broken, however, when outfielder Kyte McDonald (Rice) got ahold of a 2-0 pitch, clubbing his team-leading fifth homer to lead off the fifth and give Arroyo Seco a 1-0 advantage.

McDonald being the hero for the Saints on Wednesday was fitting, as the San Antonio, Texas native increased his personal hitting streak to eight games with his solo shot. With three home runs in his last three contests, McDonald’s power has also been on full display of late.

The Riptide would begin to make things interesting once Herrera exited the game after the sixth. Infielder Connor McGuire (Cal Baptist) opened the seventh inning with a single before reaching third on a botched pickoff attempt, putting Orange County in a prime position to tie the game. But Cariaco, who succeeded Herrera, set down the next three batters, escaping the frame without a scratch.

Cariaco faced a similar jam an inning later, as Riptide outfielder Cary Arbolida (Houston) recorded a leadoff single and advanced 90 feet thanks to a sacrifice bunt by McGuire. The Saints reliever responded by inducing two straight outs to once again neutralize Orange County’s threat before passing the torch to Warunek in the ninth to close out the contest.

With the win, the Saints will face the Healdsburg Prune Packers – the CCL 30 North Divisional Round winner and two-time defending champions – in the best-two-of-three CCL 30 State Championship, with the game one scheduled for Friday, August 4 at Jackie Robinson Memorial Field at 6:05 pm PST. Healdsburg went 26-9 in league play during the regular season and advanced to the championship series with a 10-7 victory over the Walnut Creek Crawdads.

Despite taking on a formidable opponent in the Packers, Milam believes his group is more than capable of bringing home its first CCL Championship in franchise history.

“Our goal every week is to win the week,” Milam said. “And we won one [game]. We have [to win] two more to win the week. So right now, we’re trying to win the week.”

Photo Credit: Gracie Pugliese

By CCL Reporter Sean Brennan

With the conclusion of the South Wild Card Game, the inaugural CCL 30 Wild Card Round is in the books, and it didn’t disappoint. After the Walnut Creek Crawdads defeated the Lincoln Potters in the North Division’s Wild Card matchup, the Orange County Riptide ended the CCL 30 Postseason’s opening day with a walk-off, come-from-behind victory over the Conejo Oaks, 5-4.

This year, the league adopted a new playoff format consisting of six teams – three from the CCL North Division and three from the CCL South Division – with the second and third-seeded squads squaring off in a single-elimination Wild Card Game. Each Wild Card Champion will advance to the aforementioned Divisional Round, where they will battle their respective division’s top-seeded squad for a berth in the CCL 30 State Championship. In the North vs. South State Championship, the two finalists will compete in a best-of-three series to determine who takes home this year’s title.

Given how evenly these two teams have matched up against one another all summer long, it’s no surprise Tuesday’s contest came down to the wire. The Riptide finished the regular season with a 4-3 advantage in the head-to-head season series, but Conejo had won two most recent games – the only two that came after the CCL 30 Showcase Game on July 12.

After besting the Oaks by a score of 5-4 at Great Park in Irvine, Orange County will visit the one-seeded Arroyo Seco Saints in the South Divisional Round on August 2.

Despite living to see another day, the prospect of the ‘Tide pulling off a victory appeared bleak heading into the bottom of the 5th inning. On the heels of a quiet opening three innings, the Oaks finally broke the scoreless tie in the fourth courtesy of outfielder Christopher Wright (Sonoma State), who drove in catcher Brendan Durfee (Cal Lutheran) with a deep double that reached the left-field wall.

Conejo was far from finished. With one out on the board an inning later, two straight Oaks – outfielders McCabe Moyer (Oregon) and Austin Carrillo (Biola) – reached base via a single and walk respectively, setting the scene for infielder Zach Daudet (Regis). Daudet would seemingly blow the game wide open, clubbing a three-run shot that cleared the left-field wall.

Daudet’s blast ultimately proved a turning point, igniting a fire within the tight-knit Riptide dugout.

“We were kind of screaming as a team,‘punch back, punch back,’” Riptide head coach Connor Spencer recalled. “I just preached with the guys… our focus as a group these last few days needs to be having fun… I told them 10 or 20 years down the line, when you meet up with the guy on your left and the guy on your right, you’re going to talk about these moments in the playoff run that you made and the fun that you had.”

When Orange County needed a jolt, its lineup proved up to the task almost immediately. Outfielder Reese Chapman (Tennessee) drew a bases-loaded walk to break the shutout, and outfielder Patrick Hackworth (UC San Diego) capitalized on a passed ball before infielder Connor McGuire drove in two more runs with his team-leading 27th base knock of the season, tying the game before Conejo’s hitters had a chance to retake the field.

“I tried to preach simplicity with the guys, and they did a really good job that inning of getting guys on, working counts [and] drawing some walks,” Spencer said. “We’ve done a really good job of setting the table here for the past couple of weeks and we’ve been really poor at driving guys in… it was kind of a monkey off our back to get that four-spot there.”

Taking the mound to start the sixth frame was southpaw Ryan Hernandez (Cal Baptist), who succeeded starter Josh Randall (San Diego). In his last five regular season relief appearances, the La Mirada, Calif. native posted a 1.50 ERA and 0.67 WHIP through 6.0 innings, earning his head skipper’s trust in a high-leverage situation, especially against a Conejo starting lineup that featured five lefties.

Hernandez more than proved he was up to the task, going 3.0 innings – his longest outing of the season – while allowing one baserunner and fanning three. The rising senior also set the tone for right-hander Connor Kinney (Undecided), who was able to hold the Oaks scoreless in the game’s final inning and earn win No. 2 on the summer – his first coming from a shutout 4.0-inning start on July 29 in San Luis Obispo.

“We kind of gravitated towards Hernandez because of the job he’s done this season against left-handed hitters,” Spencer said. “And he came in and pounded the zone really well… Seeing the start that [Kinney] had in San Luis Obispo… we have so much confidence in the kid at this point in time…”

With the score knotted up at four heading into the bottom of the ninth, the ‘Tide had a grade-A chance to close the game out right then and there. And Orange County did just that, as Chapman drew another bases-loaded walk to walk off Conejo and extend his team’s season.

“For Chapman to come in and have the discipline to work a walk there, it’s really easy to let things spiral out of control,” Spencer said. “Let me tell you, that kid is really, really good and he’s going to be a really special player someday.”

The Riptide will now set their sights on the Arroyo Seco Saints, the South’s top squad in the postseason. Spencer – who began his CCL coaching career with the Saints – is 6-1 against his former team this summer, an encouraging stat as Orange County takes on a team that is 11-3 in its last 14 games. This red-hot stretch includes a win over the Riptide on July 26, the most recent head-to-head meeting.

“It’s all about,‘What have you done for me lately’, and Arroyo Seco took the last game from us and it’s because they are blazing hot,” Spencer said. “They have the ability to put up those wild crooked numbers, we have to prevent those crooked numbers. It’s okay if we go one run here, one run there, but if they get a four, five or six-spot, we’re going to be in trouble. We’ve got to try and prevent that as much as humanly possible.”

Photo Credit: Spencer So

By Sam Nute

After an exciting end to the regular season, the CCL 30 Postseason kicked-off with the first game between the Walnut Creek Crawdads and the Lincoln Potters in the inaugural CCL 30 Wild Card Round.

This year, the CCL introduced a new playoff format where the top three teams from each division make the playoffs. The second and third seeds from each division face off in the Wild Card round, with the winner moving on to play the first seed in the Divisional Round. Finally, the winner of each divisional round will face off in the best-of-three CCL 30 State Championship.

Entering the game on Tuesday, Lincoln had won seven of their last ten games and were riding a very hot offensive stretch, scoring 66 runs over their final five games of the regular season. Outfielder Nolan Wilson (Nevada) would score Lincoln’s lone run of the night, finishing a season where he hit .337 with six doubles and two homers. Plus, middle-infield partners Patrick Herrara (Kentucky) and Zachary Chamizo (UC Riverside) both had hits to cap off .300+ AVG seasons of their own. 

The last time these two teams faced, the Potters upset the ‘Dads, winning a three-game series a little over a week ago. 

The Crawdads defeated the Potters 7-1 and  moved on to face the Healdsburg Prune Packers in the Divisional Round behind nine innings of one-run ball from RHP Tyler Blair (Cal) and LHP EJ McGrew (Willamette) plus a bounce-back performance from the offense.

“I have a checklist each day that I look at in terms of things we need to do to win baseball games in general,” Walnut Creek head coach Brant Cummings said. “We threw strikes, we pitched, we played defense and we scored when we needed to.”

Ranking third on the team in innings pitched, Blair has been one of the ‘Dads best pitchers this year. In 21.2 innings, Blair pitched to a 2.49 ERA, striking out 20 and allowing just six earned runs on the season. On Tuesday, Blair delivered one of his best outings of the season. Over 5.0 innings, Blair allowed just one unearned run on a Crawdad error and struck out two while allowing just four hits and one walk. 

Tuesday’s performance marks three straight outings in which Blair has gone five innings, and over that 15-inning stretch, he has allowed just one earned run on 10 hits.

“I just got a lot of confidence right now,” Blair said. “I’m attacking the zone, getting ahead and trusting my catchers (Nico) Button and (Ryan) Helfrick. Just keeping it simple. My curveball was working, so I kept going to that, working backward a lot of the time.” 

The Potters took the lead early on an error by Crawdad third baseman Max Farfan (Illinois Chicago), but Walnut Creek struck back in the third on an RBI single from outfielder Cole Fellows (Columbia). With the heavy wind blowing in from center field, the teams weren’t expecting too many homers tonight, but a lucky break in the weather allowed outfielder Brian DuRoff (Charlotte) to muscle one over the center field wall putting the Crawdads up 2-1.

“It was the second or third time I saw that kid, so I knew kind of what he wanted to do,” DuRoff said. “He started out with a breaker early, right in my wheelhouse, and I kind of just dropped the barrel on it, and I just backspun it, and it kept going. I thought it was gonna stay in, but it was nice to see one leave the yard.”

The solo shot was all Walnut Creek needed, following Blair’s masterful start and impressive relief work by McGrew. Across four innings, McGrew allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out two. McGrew’s four-inning save allowed Cummings to use just two pitchers, and after losing a few pitchers over the last few weeks, that couldn’t have been more imperative with a possible four more games in the next five days. 

“We needed that. We are a little shorthanded right now, so it felt good to get those out of those guys.” Cummings said. “Using two guys now, we have the rest of the guys, excluding maybe one or two, that are able to go tomorrow. Then we have one or two more guys that will become available on the weekend if we are able to move on.”

After a clutch two-RBI double from Helfrick and three sacrifice flies, the Crawdads advance and now prepare to face the Healdsburg Prune Packers tomorrow, August 2, at 6:05 pm PST. Earlier last week, the Crawdads swept Healdsburg and went 5-2 against them on the season.

However, Walnut Creek is not just resting on its laurels.

“It is not going to be easy,” Cummings said. “It never is against them. Good players. They play well, and they specifically play well at their place. It’s a huge task; it’s doable, but it is not gonna be easy.”

By CCL Reporters Sean Brennan, Sam Nute, and Dylan Wickman

The CCL 30 Regular Season has finally come to a close, and the league’s top six teams will look to make a run at this year’s State Championship in the CCL 30 Postseason, which begins with the CCL 30 Wild Card Round on August 1. Before the playoff festivities begin, learn how each team finished their regular seasons. Each team is carefully ranked based on their overall record, week record, strength of schedule, and recent trends. Check out the final edition of the CCL 30 Power Rankings below.

#1 Santa Barbara Foresters (2)

League Record: 25-10

League Record This Week: 3-1

Overall Record: 30-10

Overall Record This Week: 4-1

After dropping their first game of the week to the Oaks, the Santa Barbara Foresters got right back on track, picking up a non-league win the very next day. Santa Barbara proceeded to take the next three against the Conejo Oaks before defeating the San Luis Obispo Blues to close out their 2023 CCL campaign – and posting an above-.500 record for the seventh straight week.

At 24-10 in league play, the ‘Sters have clinched the CCL South regular season title for the third straight summer – meaning they’ve won the South in all three years since the league introduced divisions in 2021.

Outfielder Rocco Garza-Gongora (Oklahoma) took full advantage of his 24 at-bats on the week, logging nine hits, a double and two RBI. In his last five contests, catcher Will Rogers (Michigan) went 7-for-21 with a double, home run and seven RBI, good for a .333 average during Week 8. Hitting for power this week was outfielder Gregory Pace (Michigan), who slugged .933 and belted two home runs in 15 at-bats.

On the mound, righty Sean Youngerman (Westmont College) put together a strong 5.2-inning start in Game 2 against the Oaks. The CCL 30 Showcase Game selection conceded a run in the second, but ultimately pitched to a sub-one WHIP and struck out six, exiting the contest with Santa Barbara leading 3-1.

Right-handed reliever Zac Colletti helped seal a Foresters’ series victory over Conejo during Game 4, fanning five and holding the Oaks scoreless in the game’s final 4.0 innings.

The ‘Sters have elected to participate in the 2023 National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series – a tournament they have won ten times – in lieu of the CCL 30 Postseason.

#2 Walnut Creek Crawdads (–)

League Record: 25-10

League Record This Week: 4-2

Overall Record: 33-10

Overall Record This Week: 4-2

The final week of the CCL regular season was a roller coaster for the Walnut Creek Crawdads, who came into the week 2.5 game back of the Healdsburg Prune Packers for the No. 1 seed in the North Division. The week couldn’t have gotten off to a better start as the Crawdads swept the Prune Packers in a three-game series to take the lead of the North Division. However, a series loss to the Sonoma Stompers on the final weekend of the season handed the top seed in the North to Healdsburg.

Needing a sweep to take the lead in the division, Walnut Creek pulled out all three wins with multiple excellent pitching and hitting performances. Right-handed pitcher Kody Perry (Trinity College), LHP Sean Fitzpatrick (Arkansas) and RHP Tyler Blair combined to throw 16.0 IP allowing just one earned run and seven hits, while striking out 9.

Offensively, the Crawdads got offensive contributions from all around the team, especially in Game Two. Scoring eight runs on the night, the ‘Dads had five different players notch an RBI, and outfielder Brian DuRoff (Charlotte) and catcher Ryder Helfrick led the way with both having a multi-hit game.

After the sweep, Walnut Creek only needed to win their final three-game series against the Sonoma Stompers, but the bullpen that was so strong in the Prune Packers series struggled against the Stompers, surrendering multiple runs in late-game situations. 

Walnut Creek will enter the CCL 30 Postseason as the North Division’s second seed and will host the third-seeded Lincoln Potters on Tuesday, August, 1st at 4 p.m. PST.

#3 Healdsburg Prune Packers (2)

League Record: 26-9

League Record This Week: 2-3

Overall Record: 39-9

Overall Record This Week: 3-3

The Healdsburg Prune Packers bounced back with a two-game series sweep over the Mudcats, and, thanks to a Stompers series win over the Crawdads, will enter the Postseason with the North Division’s top seed. 

The Prune Packers’ offense managed 10 runs across the three games agains the Crawdads. Averaging 5.3 hits per game this series, the Prune Packers worked to get their offense going. The offense bounced back in their two-game set against the Mudcats. Healdsburg scored 19 runs while outfielder Alex Leopard (Santa Rosa JC) went 3-for-3 in the series including two home runs and six total RBI. 

Left-handed pitcher Christopher Stamos (Tennessee) struck out five in a four-inning outing against the Crawdads

The Prune Packers will enter the CCL 30 Postseason as the North Divisions No. 1 seed. Due to their top spot, Healdsburg has a first round bye and will host the winner of the Crawdads/Potters on Wednesday, August 2 for a spot in the CCL 30 State Championship. 

#4 Arroyo Seco Saints (1)

League Record: 21-14

League Record This Week: 4-1

Overall Record: 23-14

Overall Record This Week: 4-1

Week 8 couldn’t have gone much better for the Arroyo Seco Saints, who went 4-1 to lock up the CCL South Division’s top spot in the CCL 30 Postseason. Perhaps Arroyo Seco’s biggest win of the summer came on July 26 over the then-No. 1 seeded Riptide – a foe the Saints were 0-6 against this season up to that point – which helped fuel a three-game sweep of the Barons to finish the week and regular season hot.

As has been the case in recent weeks, the Saints’ bats were scorching hot this week, scoring a combined 51 runs in five contests. Infielder Jordan Rogers and outfielder Kyte McDonald, both members of the Wichita State Shockers, proved the brightest spots in the Saints’ lineup. Rogers’ enjoyed a three-home run, seven-RBI performance on July 29 against the Barons, while McDonald hit .429 with two homers, three walks and six RBI in 21 at-bats this week.

Another Saint to make waves this week was infielder and CCL 30 Showcase Game selection Raider Tello (Iowa), who went 8-for-24 to improve his average to .385 and achieve the CCL South Division’s regular season batting title.

With a staff that ranks top-three in the CCL for ERA (3.53), WHIP (1.34) and strikeouts (370) during league play, it’s no surprise that Arroyo Seco’s success this week was propelled in part by strong pitching. On July 28 against the Barons, right-handed starter Hayden Lewis (Arizona) hit double-digit strikeouts while allowing just a run in 5.0 innings – good for his first win of the 2023 campaign.

Right-hander Carter Herrera (Cal State Fullerton) got the nod for the Saints’ pivotal Jul. 26 game in Orange County and also shined, fanning five and owning a sub-one WHIP in 6.0 innings.

Earning the South Division’s top seed comes with its perks, as Arroyo Seco receives an automatic bid to the CCL 30 Divisional Round on August 2 – which it is set to host – and will await the winner of the South’s CCL 30 Wild Card Round.

#5 Lincoln Potters (1)

League Record: 20-15

League Record This Week: 5-1

Overall Record: 33-20

Overall Record This Week: 5-1

There might not be a hotter team in the CCL than the Lincoln Potters heading into the CCL 30 Postseason. Last week, the Potters took series against both the Prune Packers and the Crawdads, and stayed hot with a series win over the Mudcats and a sweep of the CCL affiliate Bay Area Admirals, clinching the third seed in the CCL North Division. 

Offensively, the Potters continued to build off of the previous week, scoring 66 runs across their five games this week. Coming to the Potters midway through the season, outfielder Alexander Johnson (Undecided) had his best game of his shortened season. In the Potters 19-4 win over the Mudcats, Johnson went 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI. Two games later, Johnson performed amazing once again, going 2-for-4 with a home run and another double, ending the night with 4 RBI.

On the bump, the Potters got an impressive performance out of RHP Toran O’Harran (Stanford). O’Harran threw five strong inning against the Admirals, allowing one earned run on two hits and two walks while striking out six. Later against the Admirals, RHP Cooper Robinson (UC Irvine) continued his impressive season. Lowering his season ERA to 2.52, Robinson went 6.0 innings, allowing just one earned run and striking out five.

Heading into the Postseason, the Potters are carrying a 7-3 record across their previous ten games, and will play the Crawdads in the Wild Card Round of the CCL 30 Postseason on Tuesday, August 1st at 4:00 pm PST.

#6 Orange County Riptide (2)

League Record: 20-15

League Record This Week: 2-2

Overall Record: 21-16

Overall Record This Week: 2-2

The Riptide came into the CCL’s final week with just a half-game lead for the first seed in the South Division over the Arroyo Seco Saints, who they happened to play to start the week. Orange County lost the decisive game 8-4, and despite winning two out of three against the San Luis Obispo Blues, they still ended up one game behind the Saints, They will still end the season with a great 20-15 record and possession of the No. 2 seed.

The Riptide had many contributors on the offensive end this week, with four different batters – outfielder Nick Upstill (Pepperdine), infielder Nathan Cadena (San Jose State), first baseman Grant MacArthur (San Joaquin Delta College) and outfielder Patrick Hackworth (California San Diego) – totaling at least five hits. The infielders were the big hitters this week, with Cadena racking up three doubles while MacArthur drove in the team’s only home run. Upstill had the team’s single-game high in hits with three in Game 1 against SLO, while Hackworth made his mark with consistency, recording a hit in every game he played this week. 

Orange County had some stellar pitching performances in the Blues series to help them secure their wins. Right-handed pitcher Matthew Maloney was a strikeout machine in Game 2, retiring nine batters with K’s while conceding just three hits and one earned run. Right-handed pitchers Connor Kinney and Brett Garcia were both on lockdown in the season finale, with Kinney only letting on two base runners in 4.0 innings while Garcia struck out seven out of the eight batters he faced in 2.2 innings. 

The Riptide will host the CCL 30 South Wildcard Game against the Conejo Oaks, who they are 6-2 against this season, for a chance for a rematch against the Saints in the Divisional Round.

#7 Conejo Oaks (–)

League Record: 16-19

League Record This Week: 2-3

Overall Record: 18-19

Overall Record This Week: 2-3

With a narrow 6-5 win over the Barons on July 30 – the final day of the regular season – the Conejo Oaks locked up the CCL South Division’s third and final playoff spot in dramatic fashion.

Offensively, it was three of the Oaks’ top bats – catcher Brendan Durfee (Cal Lutheran) plus outfielders McCabe Moyer (Oregon) and Austin Carrillo (Biola) – that got it done down the stretch. In 18 at-bats on the week, Carrillo recorded eight hits, four doubles and two RBI while Moyer went 8-for-25 with a double and triple.

One of the Oaks’ most reliable hitters over the past three summers, Durfee also delivered when his team needed it most, totaling nine knocks in 19 at-bats with three doubles, a home run and five RBI this week. The Monrovia, Calif. native’s best performance undoubtedly came on July 29 at Santa Barbara, as he went a perfect 4-for-4 including a pair of doubles and an RBI.

In addition to timely hitting, Conejo fed off strong outings from bullpen arms in both of its wins this week. On July 25, right-handed reliever Charlie Adamson (Undecided) kept the ‘Sters off the scoresheet in all 4.0 innings he pitched, as he allowed three hits and retired two via the strikeout. Southpaw Michael Alan Stanford (College of the Desert) entered the season finale in the seventh and fanned three in 2.1 scoreless frames, helping the Oaks punch their ticket to the CCL 30 Postseason.

Conejo is slated to continue its quest for the CCL 30 State Championship on August 1 at 7 p.m. PST, when the Oaks visit the Riptide for the South Division’s CCL 30 Wild Card Round.

#8 Sonoma Stompers (–)

League Record: 16-19

League Record This Week: 3-3

Overall Record: 25-21

Overall Record This Week: 3-3

The Stompers began the week two games out of a North Division Playoff spot. Sonoma did play spoilers to the Walnut Creek Crawdad’s chance at clinching the one seed, beating them in two out of three to end the season.

Third baseman Michael Bell (Cal Poly SLO) was a key component in the Stompers’ wins, going 3-for-5 with a two-run homer in game 1 and 2-for-4 in game 3. Outfielder Logan Azem (San Francisco) made his mark against the Admirals, totaling seven hits in the series, along with a double and four RBI. Fellow outfielder Jag Burden (Cal) had great performances in both series, having a noteworthy 4-for-4 performance in game 3 against the Admirals and tallying five hits in 13 at-bats in the three games against Walnut Creek,

Right-handed pitchers Chase Minor (San Diego) and Aidan Colin (Cal State Northridge) both played a big part in the Game 1 win against the Crawdads, with Minor striking out seven batters in 4.0 innings while giving up two runs and  Colin only conceding one hit in 3.0 innings to go along with four strikeouts. Right-handed pitcher Joey Van Dusen (Sacramento Community College) was electric in game 3 against Walnut Creek, striking out six out of the ten batters he faced in 3.0 innings.

The Stompers conclude the season with a 25-21 overall record and a 16-19 league record, good for fourth in the CCL North Division and 2.5 games out of a playoff spot. 

#9 San Luis Obispo Blues (–)

League Record: 15-20

League Record This Week: 2-4

Overall Record: 22-24

Overall Record This Week: 2-4

The Blues started this week just half a game out of the third and final seed in the CCL South Division and had six games to make up ground.

The Blues’ bread and butter this season has been pitching, and that didn’t change much in their final week. Right-handed pitcher Matthew Gonzales (University of Colorado, Colorado Springs) was in control in his 7.0 innings against the Barons, only letting four batters on base with none scoring along with seven strikeouts. Left-handed pitcher Chris Stuart (Texas) tallied eight strikeouts in his 5.1 innings in game 2 against the Riptide, while RHP Justin Feld (Gonzaga) was very important in the Saints’ win, surrendering only two runs in 6.0 innings. 

Centerfielder Jacob Ruley (CSU Bakersfield) had himself quite a week, totaling six hits in 20 at-bats along with a double and five RBI. Catcher Matt Spear batted .364 in his team’s final week while adding on a double and a home run as well. 

The Blues end the season with a 22-24 overall record and a 15-20 league record, which puts them fourth in the South Division, one game out of a playoff spot. 

#10 MLB Youth Academy Barons (–)

League Record: 8-27

League Record This Week: 1-4

Overall Record: 8-27

Overall Record This Week: 1-4

Despite opening the week with a series-clinching victory over the Blues, the MLB Youth Academy Barons would go on to lose three straight to the Arroyo Seco Saints before dropping their season finale against the Oaks, 6-5.

The Barons’ most reliable hitter this week was infielder Thomas Williams (Santa Ana College), who has been a catalyst all summer long. Williams logged six knocks, four walks and two RBI in 18 at-bats this week, finishing his season with a .274 average. Outfielder Jacob Klinovsky (Cal State East Bay) was also a key contributor, going 4-for-17 with a double and two RBI.

Infielder Kamau Neighbors (Cal State Northridge) wrapped up an exceptional summer that saw him lead the Barons in hits (41) and OPS (.958). Neighbors is also tied for the most walks drawn (23) and has the second-highest average (.357) in the CCL South Division.

On the mound, right-hander Francisco Lopez (Cerritos College) set the tone in his 3.0-inning start against the Blues on Jul. 26, allowing two baserunners and fanning three to hold San Luis scoreless. At the tail end of the game, right-hander Maximus Berber (Whittier College) earned his third save of the year with two strikeouts and a walk in 1.0 inning of work.

#11 Solano Mudcats (–)

League Record: 6-28

League Record This Week: 1-3

Overall Record: 7-32

Overall Record This Week: 1-3

The Solano Mudcats entered this week with two games against the Lincoln Potters and two games against the Healdsburg Prune Packers.

The Mudcats bounced back in their second game against Lincoln, defeating the Potters 9-7. Two-Way player Jake Tandy was the clear MVP of the game, doing his best Shohei Ohtani impression. At the plate, Tandy went 2-for-6 with three RBI on a home run and a double. On the mound, Tandy got the win in 1.1 innings of work, allowing just one base runner on a walk and striking out three. 

The Mudcats got one more start out their season’s horse agains the Packers. Right-handed pitcher Caleb Davis (Sonoma State) finished the season ranked second in the league in innings pitched with 39.0, and in one final start he had one of his best outings of the season. In 5.0 innings pitched against the top-seeded Prune Packers, Davis allowed just four hits and one run, striking out three and walking no one. 

The ‘Cats got impressive performances too from infielder Jeff Hoffman (Willamette), Tandy, infielder Alec Nava (San Joaquin Delta) and catcher Bronson Balholm (Arizona State). 

Full List:

  1. Santa Barbara Foresters: (League Record: 21-9, League Record This Week: 3-1, Overall Record: 25-9, Overall Record This Week: 4-1)
  2. Walnut Creek Crawdads: (League Record: 25-10, League Record This Week: 4-2, Overall Record: 33-10, Overall Record This Week: 4-2)
  3. Healdsburg Prune Packers: (League Record: 26-9, League Record This Week: 2-3, Overall Record: 39-9, Overall Record This Week: 3-3)
  4. Arroyo Seco Saints: (League Record 17-13; League Record This Week: 4-1; Overall Record: 19-13; Overall Record This Week: 4-1)
  5. Lincoln Potters: (League Record: 20-15, League Record This Week: 5-1, Overall Record: 33-20, Overall Record This Week: 5-1)
  6. Orange County Riptide: (League Record: 20-15, League Record This Week: 2-2, Overall Record: 21-16, Overall Record This Week: 2-2)
  7. Conejo Oaks: League Record: 16-19, League Record This Week: 2-3, Overall Record: 18-19, Overall Record This Week: 2-3)
  8. Sonoma Stompers: (League Record: 16-19, League Record This Week: 3-3, Overall Record: 25-21, Overall Record This Week: 3-3)
  9. San Luis Obispo Blues: (League Record: 15-20, League Record This Week: 2-4, Overall Record: 22-24, Overall Record This Week: 2-4)
  10. Academy Barons: (League Record: 8-27, League Record This Week: 1-4, Overall Record: 8-27, Overall Record This Week: 1-4)
  11. Solano Mudcats: (League Record: 6-28, League Record This Week: 1-3, Overall Record: 7-32, Overall Record This Week: 1-3)

By CCL Reporters Sean Brennan, Sam Nute, and Dylan Wickman

July 31, 2023 // Updated as of 12 a.m.


Today, the 2023 California Collegiate League regular season will come to an end, and the landscape of the CCL 30 Postseason – the capstone of the league’s 30th year – will be solidified. A new format will be introduced for this summer’s playoffs, replacing the double-elimination, round-robin layout used for the past two seasons, as five squads will vie to dethrone the two-time defending champion Healdsburg Prune Packers.

The top three seeds based on league record in both the CCL North and South Divisions qualify for the tournament and a chance to reach the CCL 30 State Championship, a best two-out-of-three series taking place from Friday to Sunday, August 4-6. A coin flip at an offseason league meeting determined that the CCL South Division will host the State Championship this year, with the site rotating back and forth between divisions in subsequent years.

Each division’s second and third-ranked teams will kick off the postseason facing off in the single-elimination CCL Wild Card Round on Tuesday, August 1. The winner of the two Wild Card games will then take on their respective division’s first-place team on Wednesday, August 2 for a chance at the CCL crown.

Sitting at 26-9, the Healdsburg Prune Packers are the current host for the No. 1 seed in the North Division and have clinched a postseason berth. After temporarily ceding first place to the Crawdads, Healdsburg took control of the division’s top spot on July 28 and clinched the No. 1 seed with a Crawdads loss on Jul. 31.

However, the aforementioned Walnut Creek Crawdads (25-9) enter the postseason on the heels of an exceptional regular season that saw them challenge the Pack for the North Division’s No. 1 spot until the very end. Walnut Creek’s quest for the CCL 30 State Championship begins when it hosts the CCL 30 Wild Card Round on August 1.

The Crawdads’ opponent in the Wild Card Round is the Lincoln Potters, who clinched the third and final playoff spot in the North Division with a win on July 28. With a league record of 20-15, the Potters have had an up-and-down time in 2023, but have gone 8-3 in their last 12 contests – a stretch that includes series victories over Healdsburg and Walnut Creek.

Rounding out the North are the Sonoma Stompers and Solano Mudcats, who have both been officially eliminated.

Despite remaining unclear until the last minute, the CCL South Division playoff picture is finally solidified. The second-ranked Arroyo Seco Saints have claimed the South’s No. 1 spot with a 21-14 mark, as the division-winning Santa Barbara Foresters (23-10) have elected to compete in NBC World Series, a tournament they have won 10 times. Locked into the No. 2 slot is the Orange County Riptide, who will host the CCL 30 Wild Card Round.

With a win over the MLB Youth Academy Barons on Jul. 30 – the last day of the regular season – the Conejo Oaks (16-19) have clinched the third and final CCL 30 Postseason berth in the South. As a result, the San Luis Obispo Blues (15-20) have been officially eliminated.

Rounding out the division are the Barons, who are 8-26 in league play and have won four of their last five games. As of July 26, the Academy is officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Follow all the action as the quest for the CCL 30 State Championship heats up.

By CCL Reporters Sean Brennan, Sam Nute and Dylan Wickman

Week 7 of the CCL 30 Regular Season is in the books, so it is time for another edition of the North and South Players of the Week. In the North, Craig Schmich of the Lincoln Potters takes home a North Pitcher of the Week for the Potters’ third this season, and Ivan Brethowr made an immediate splash for the Healdsburg Prune Packers, earning him North Hitter of the Week. In the South, Sean Youngerman and Hunter Watkins combined for a no-hitter and were honored as Co-South Pitchers of the Week. The Academy Barons’ Kamau Neighbors continued his excellent season and was awarded South Hitter of the Week.

CCL North Division // Hitter of the Week

The Healdsburg Prune Packer lineup has been one of the best lineups in the CCL, with many of their players topping the league in offensive categories. However, their lineup just got better with the addition of the Week 7 North Hitter of the Week, OF/IF Ivan Brethowr (UC Santa Barbara). 

Brethowr did not join the Prune Packers until this week, and he couldn’t have made a better first impression. In the five games for the Packers this week, Brethowr went 8-for-20 with 12 RBI and a whopping five home runs, going yard in all but one game this week. The highlight performance of Brethowr’s week was in Healdsburg’s 30-2 win over the Mudcats. The Massachusetts native went 3-for-3 with two home runs, five RBI and two runs scored.

Brethowr’s five home runs this week catapulted him to a tie for second most in the CCL, but it is not too surprising given his season at UCSB. In 45 games played, Brethowr hit .314 with ten home runs and 12 doubles, ranking near the top of the team in many statistical categories. His performance earned him a selection to the All-Big West First Team.

With the CCL 30 Postseason fast approaching, Brethowr looks to play a key part in the Prune Packers’ quest for a third consecutive CCL State Championship.

CCL North Division // Pitcher of the Week

The Lincoln Potters had an exceptional week, beating the No.1 Healdsburg Prune Packers and No. 2 Walnut Creek Crawdads in four out of six games to build a two-game cushion for a playoff spot. One of those games was a tight-knit 7-6 win that couldn’t have been done without the work of RHP Craig Schmich (Minot State), who earns this week’s North Division Pitcher of the Week. 

To put things into context, the Packers’ offense averages 8.43 runs per game and has scored double-digit runs in nine out of 30 games this season. The numbers didn’t affect Schmich, as he shut down Healdsburg’s offense for 5.2 innings. He ended up conceding only six hits and zero earned runs while accruing a dazzling ten strikeouts, tied for the most by anyone in the CCL this season. His efforts were paramount in earning the crucial victory and his first league win of the season.

Schmich has become accustomed to striking out batters in his junior season as a Beaver, as he tallied five or more Ks in six out of 13 appearances last season, his season-high being nine against Southwest Baptist. He helped lead MSU to a 29-19 record, sporting a 1.39 WHIP and accumulating five wins in nine starts. 

He has carried that momentum into this summer, totaling 19 strikeouts in 12.6 innings while giving up zero earned runs in three out of five appearances. He will need to stay on his game as the Potters look to secure a spot in the CCL 30 Wild Card Round, which takes place in August. 1. 

CCL South Division // Hitter of the Week

This week’s CCL South Hitter of the Week is second-year MLB Academy Barons infielder and two-time CCL Showcase Game selection Kamau Neighbors (Cal State Northridge), who played a massive part in his team putting together its best stretch of the season during Week 7. Neighbors is the second straight member of the Academy to take home a CCL South Player of the Week distinction, as right-handed pitcher Ruben Del Castillo (Wagner College) was honored last week.

Neighbors have been a focal point of the Barons’ lineup for the entire season. Still, the Carson, Calif. native elevated his play to a new level this week, logging 12 hits in 23 at-bats – including a double, triple, and a home run – without striking out once. Additionally, Neighbors recorded four walks and seven RBI, helping the Academy win three of their last four games to achieve a 3-3 Week 7 mark.

After enjoying a strong 2022 campaign that saw him slash .305/.500/.326 in 95 at-bats, Neighbors has taken the league by storm a year later, once again cementing himself as one of the Barons’ most dangerous weapons. With one week left in the 2023 regular season, he has logged four more at-bats (99) than last year and leads the CCL South Division in average (.384) and hits (38) while driving in 11 runs. Neighbors has also demonstrated masterful plate discipline all season long and boasts 18 walks drawn with just seven strikeouts.

The 2023 spring was Neighbors’ first at Cal State Northridge, where he transferred after spending the first three years of his collegiate tenure at Long Beach City College. During his inaugural campaign with the Matadors, Neighbors took the field for 21 games and totaled eight hits, two doubles, a home run, and eight RBI in 36 at-bats.

While the Barons have been eliminated from the CCL 30 Postseason, Neighbors will look to end his 2023 campaign with a bang and earn his second straight CCL All-League Selection.

CCL South Division // Pitcher of the Week

One of the rarest feats a pitching staff can accomplish is a combined no-hitter, but Santa Barbara Foresters righties Sean Youngerman (Westmont College) and Hunter Watkins (Grand Canyon) did just that on Jul. 20. In a 4-0 victory over the Saints, Youngerman and Watkins became the second duo to record a no-no this season – the Riptide achieved the first on Jun. 24 – earning Week 7 CCL South Division co-Pitcher of the Week honors.

Starting his second game of the season, Youngerman struck out four and was nearly impeccable in 6.0 innings on the mound, as three walks proved the only blemishes on his outing. Watkins entered the game in the sixth and sealed the win for his predecessor, holding Arroyo Seco off the basepaths and fanning five to earn his inaugural save of the summer.

Members of a talented ‘Sters staff that has a CCL-best 2.43 ERA in league play, both contributors to Santa Barbara’s no-hitter, have enjoyed solid seasons to date. Youngerman has yet to allow an earned run and has accumulated 21 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched this summer, while Watkins owns a 2.55 ERA and 17 strikeouts through 17.2 frames.

During his freshman campaign at Westmont College, Youngerman logged the fourth-most innings pitched (30.1) along with 33 strikeouts, a 2.97 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, and is a promising piece of the Warriors’ future. While he is entering his freshman year at GCU, Watkins has a bright future in his own right, as he was California’s 64th-ranked high school overall prospect in 2023, according to Perfect Game.

Both Youngerman and Watkins will likely be called upon as the Foresters look to secure their third straight CCL South Division regular season title this week.