LOS ANGELES, CA – The California Collegiate League (CCL) is pleased to announce the addition of the Sonoma Stompers, a former professional independent organization based in Sonoma, Calif. The expansion proposal was presented at the CCL Board of Directors meeting in September and approved on October. With the addition of the Stompers, the CCL now boasts an 11-team league with five teams in the North Division and six in the South Division:
CCL North Division
Healdsburg Prune Packers, Lincoln Potters, Solano Mudcats, Sonoma Stompers, Walnut Creek Crawdads
CCL South Division
MLB Academy Barons, Arroyo Seco Saints, Conejo Oaks, Orange County Riptide, San Luis Obispo Blues, Santa Barbara Foresters
While many collegiate summer leagues around the country are contracting or folding, the CCL continues to experience growth. In 2019, the CCL added three organizations—the Healdsburg Prune Packers (2021 CCL State Champions), Lincoln Potters, and Solano Mudcats—and welcomed back the Walnut Creek Crawdads after having previously been a part of the league from 2014-17.
California Collegiate League Executive Director, Aaron Milam, feels the addition of the Stompers is another feather in the cap of the CCL. “We often receive inquiries from organizations that want to join the CCL and we are selective about who we choose,” Said Milam. “We don’t add teams just to add; we add to get better, and that’s what we’ve done with the addition of the Stompers.”
Eddie Mora-Loera serves as the Stompers’ general manager and cannot wait to get started. “On behalf of our ownership group, Managing Partner Jon Sebastiani, our staff and our players, we thank the CCL and its members for welcoming the Stompers,” said Mora-Loera. “The CCL provides top-quality collegiate summer baseball and we feel we will only add to the impressive mix already in place.”
Commissioner Rick Turner is looking forward to working with another quality organization that will add to the overall strength of the CCL. “Each year our league focuses on improvement, and I applaud our teams for continuing to make strategic decisions that are best for the league, our players, and our partners,” said Turner. “You can’t beat collegiate summer baseball in California. We’re excited to add Sonoma as another premier CCL destination.”
In 2015, a New York Times best selling book featured the Stompers. Written by Ben Lindberg and Sam Miller “The Only Rule is it Has to Work” detailed a first-hand look at the front office operations of the Stompers.
Learn more about the Stompers
LINCOLN, CA – Down 7-6 in the 10th inning with a runner on second with two outs, the No. 1 Healdsburg Prune Packers’ last hopes clung on pinch hitter Hance Smith (Cal Berkeley). Facing elimination in the 2021 CCL State Championship playoffs, Smith squared on a fastball and launched it well over the left field wall to walk-off the No. 5 Conejo Oaks and advance the Packers to the semi-finals.
“[Healdsburg Coach/GM Joey Gomes] really preaches keeping everything very simple, and so going up I kept my heart rate down and was just looking for a pitch to hit and be on time, and I got one, and there it was,” Smith said.
Before the back-and-forth action heated up, the starting pitchers were on their game early. Both Healdsburg’s Marvcus Guarin (Pacific) and Conejo’s Chris Torres (Glendale CC) had identical stat lines through two innings: one hit allowed and one strikeout in seven batters faced.
The third inning is where the Packers struck first; Cole Elvis (Cal Berkeley) and Ian McMillan (Houston) were walked to open the inning. Three consecutive hits from Austin Bost (Texas A&M), Ryan Targac (Texas A&M) and Cam Blake (Texas Rio Grande Valley) put up four runs.
A Blake-to-Blake connection scored the fifth run, when Blake Burke (Tennessee) hit a grounder that allowed Cam Blake to take home.
Conejo gained momentum in the top of the fifth. Austin Carillo (Cal Lutheran) advanced Kaden Tsuji (Austin Peay State) and JT Navyac (Cal State Fullerton) to put them in scoring position after their back-to-back singles. Brendan Bobo (Cal State Fullerton) then took advantage and smacked a single to score both runners and cut the deficit to three.
Conejo’s Lucien Wechsberg (Oxnard) and Healdsburg’ Henrik Reinertsen (Cal Berkeley) pitched 1-2-3 innings in the bottom of the fifth and top of the sixth, respectively, and Wechsberg stranded two runners in scoring position in the sixth to keep the Oaks within reach.
Carrillo hit an RBI single in the seventh, but Bost came right back with a solo shot to left in the bottom of the frame to make it 6-3.
The Oaks were not going down without a fight. Grant Smith (Incarnate Word) led off the eighth with a single to center, and Brendan Durfee (Cal Lutheran) advanced to second on a throw after a single of his own. With runners on second and third, Raul Sandoval (Cal Davis) scored one with a single, and sacrifice fly from Greg Mehlhaff (Pepperdine) in the next at bat scored the other.
The Packers got out of the inning without giving up the lead, but the 6-5 score line made things more intense.
The Packers threatened to swing momentum back in their favor in the bottom of the frame, loading the bases, but Conejo prevented them from extending their one-run lead. With Conejo escaping a dagger, they shoved one into the Prune Packers. Navyac led off the ninth with a missile home run to left field, tying the game 6-6.
Carrillo was walked in the next at bat, stole second, then advanced to third on an errant throw, putting the go-ahead run on third with just one out. A pop out gave the Oaks one more chance to get ahead, but Spencer Hynes (Wichita State) took the mound for Healdsburg and got the last out.
“We have a lot of confidence in all our pitchers,” Smith said. “We knew if they kept us close, we were always gonna have a chance with our bats. We just were staying in it and ready to take it.”
Jesse Lopez (Long Beach State) came in to pinch hit as the leadoff hitter in the ninth, and forced a walk. Kimble Schuessler (Texas A&M) subbed in to pinch run, and Targac laid down a bunt in the next at bat to advance him to second.
Blake sent a liner to Oaks’ right fielder TJ Foreman (Austin Peay State), but a miscommunication between Schuessler and the Packers’ third base coach led the Packers vulnerable to a double-play, forcing the game to extra innings.
The CCL State Championship rules start extra innings with a runner on second with one out. Sandoval singled to score the runner and put the Oaks up 7-6 heading into the bottom of the 10th, where Smith etched his name in CCL State Championship lore.
The Packers move on to face the loser of tonight’s No. 2 Arroyo Seco Saints vs. No. 4 San Luis Obispo Blues tomorrow at 12pm PST.
“We’re just gonna stick to our plan. We’re deep with our pitching staff and the bats are gonna come out and I don’t think anybody’s stressing,” Smith said. “I think we’re just gonna stick to the plan and go.”
Player of the Game: PH Hance Smith (Cal Berkeley)
1-1, HR, 2 RBI, R
No matter which team comes away with the 2021 California Collegiate League (CCL) State Championship presented by Placer Valley Tourism, their path to the title will be unlike any the CCL has seen before. Literally.
With a postseason structure newly designed for the 2021 season, the CCL is aiming for an improved championship experience.
The new format departs from the previous best-of-three series in the North and three-team single elimination bracket in the South, now merging the two divisions into a unified five-team, double-elimination tournament to determine the California State Champion.
2021 CCL State Championship
Presented by Placer Valley Tourism
Wednesday, August 4, to Friday, August 6, 2021
McBean Stadium // 61 McBean Park Dr., Lincoln, CA 95648
The team with the best overall record across both divisions will earn the top seed, while the next-best record in the opposite division will earn the two-seed. Three wild card teams with the best remaining records will fill up the rest of the playoff pool, and the entire tournament will take place from Aug. 4-6.
Orange County Riptide general manager Moe Geohagen designed the format, and the league planned to implement it in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the season. After tweaks to Geohagen’s initial proposal, the CCL is primed to debut the new championship.
“We want to culminate the end of the season with something that’s special for [the players],” CCL Executive Director Aaron Milam said. “We said, ‘let’s make something new, let’s make it here.’”
The location is new this year as well; the Lincoln Potters will host the championship at McBean Stadium northeast of San Francisco, bringing a major CCL event to the North for the first time.
How did Lincoln end up with the prestigious honor of hosting? According to Potters general manager Matt Lundgren, it was as simple as just being first to volunteer.
“One day, when the league brought the idea up, I just threw our name into the hat,” Lundgren said.
Of course, there was more to it than that. CCL Commissioner Rick Turner cites Lincoln as an organization dedicated to improving the product and brand of CCL baseball. Lundgren also believes the facilities and fan support in Lincoln will make for an ideal host.
With the 2021 CCL Showcase presented by ABDG already taking place at the MLB Academy in the South division, the championship committee felt it was important to get a major event at a North division host.
“It is paramount that the league starts to recognize the opportunity we have,” Turner said. “We’re really strong down South, but if there’s a growth opportunity, it would be up North.”
Both Turner and Lundgren will judge the success of the new format by the product on the field; they hope it will be a great experience for the players first and foremost. Everything else – facilities, fan support, revenue gain – will be taken into account as well, but Lundgren hopes this will become a staple of the league.
Another aspect in the works is the awards. As of now, Louisville Slugger items will be designed for the Most Valuable Player and Most Outstanding Pitcher, with possibilities for more as planning progresses.
Turner also said he’d like to eventually see the Showcase and Championship flip locations annually, moving the Showcase up North and bringing the Championship to the South every other year. He also said he is open to establishing more league-wide events in future seasons, but for now the CCL is strictly focusing on this year.
More than anything, Turner is excited for the final product, given all the effort put into it.
“They’re not just phoning it in, going through the motions because it doesn’t seem like it matters,” Turner said. “The competition is the biggest thing and the early indications are it’ll be a spirited season with a great culmination of the state playoffs.”
— Joe Pohoryles, CCL Reporter
LOS ANGELES, CA – The California Collegiate League (CCL) announced the 2021 league schedule today. After suspending the 2020 season in response to the global pandemic, the CCL makes a much-anticipated return to league competition in 2021 beginning in the Northern Division on Tuesday, June 8. The Walnut Creek Crawdads host the Lincoln Potters at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif. The Southern Division squares-off on Thursday, June 17. The San Luis Obispo Blues visit the MLB Academy Barons at Major League’s Baseball Youth Academy in Compton, Calif.
Executive Director Aaron Milam is excited for the league’s teams to return to the field. “Last year was unprecedented and I am proud of how our clubs responded to the challenges presented by the pandemic. We did everything in our power as a league to carry out our season. The health and safety of our players, coaches, staff, and volunteers is our first priority and collectively we made the only decision possible, which was to suspend the 2020 league season. I’m looking forward to seeing both familiar and new faces out on the fields this summer and am excited to see the high level of CCL baseball played again in 2021.”
Moving forward, new CCL Commissioner and former MLB executive with the Angels, Rick Turner, is looking forward to the upcoming summer campaign. “We cannot wait to host top college players from around the country,” said Turner. “Since last August our clubs have been diligently preparing to return to the field. The 2021 season is poised to the be the league’s best.”
The CCL features 10 organizations from Orange County to Napa Valley including the Santa Barbara Foresters and Healdsburg Prune Packers, two nationally-ranked programs.
CCL Northern Division: Healdsburg Prune Packers, Lincoln Potters, Solano Mudcats, Walnut Creek Crawdads
CCL Southern Division: MLB Academy Barons, Arroyo Seco Saints, Conejo Oaks, Orange County Riptide, San Luis Obispo Blues, Santa Barbara Foresters
For first time in years, all 10 clubs from both divisions will play a uniform amount of league games (30). Most teams will play 40-50 games overall; teams’ non-league schedules will be released at a later date.
Bally Sports will televise the mid-season 2021 CCL Showcase Game on Wednesday July 14, and end-of-the-year finale, the 2021 CCL State Championship Tournament, is slated for August 4-6.
The CCL welcomes two new league members: the Lincoln Potters, based in Lincoln, Calif., and the Solano Mudcats, based in the city of Vacaville. The Walnut Creek Crawdads return to the CCL after last making an appearance in 2016.
Founded in 1993, the California Collegiate League is one of America’s premier college summer baseball destinations. Ten teams canvas the golden state of California. Each year, top college baseball players compete for the MLB Academy Barons, Arroyo Seco Saints, Conejo Oaks, Healdsburg Prune Packers, Lincoln Potters, Orange County Riptide, San Luis Obispo Blues, Santa Barbara Foresters, Solano Mudcats, and Walnut Creek Crawdads. Follow the CCL on Twitter.
It would be hard to ask RJ Schreck to have a better first game back coming off a pandemic. The junior outfielder for Duke lit up the stat sheet on opening day against Coastal Carolina, posting three hits in four at bats including a double, three runs batted in and a run scored in the 12-4 Blue Devil win. He has hardly lost a step in the months since. Out of the 27 games he has appeared in, 10 were multi-hit efforts, including two more three-hit games against Boston College and Notre Dame.
Schreck does it all at the plate for Duke, leading in most offensive categories. He leads the team in batting average (.327), OPS (.975) home runs (6) and runs batted in (22). In a three-game series against Boston College from 2/26-2/28, Schreck was 7-13 with 8 RBI and a home run. Adding to his already impressive offensive resume, he has been getting it done on the bases for the Blue Devils, stealing seven bases in as many attempts, good enough for second on the team, and establishing himself as one of the most impressive offensive players in the ACC.
Before Duke, the LA native was a 2018 graduate of Harvard-Westlake High School, where he was named to the All-CIF First Team in 2017, and First Team All-State after his senior season in 2018. This is exciting to see for fans of the Arroyo Seco Saints, as he travels back west for the summer of 2021, hoping to continue his offensive dominance.
Hayde Key, a freshman pitcher from Texas Tech University and future Santa Barbara Forester, already knows a thing or two about playing in big moments.
With a 19-4 overall record, the 2021 Texas Tech team has been consistently recognized as one of the top programs in the nation. The most recent poll from BaseballAmerica.com has the Red Raiders coming in at No. 4. Topping that list is Arkansas, who took on Texas Tech on opening night, the first game back for each team after the COVID-19 hiatus. This also happened to be the college debut for Key, who head coach Tim Tadlock trusted to preserve a 1-run lead in the 8th inning.
Key worked through a scoreless 8th frame with two strikeouts. Texas Tech knew they had something special in Key. He has been consistently solid out of the bullpen, tied for third on the team in appearances, and striking out 12 batters over 8.2 innings. His best outing came on March 5 against Texas State where he posted three scoreless innings allowing just one hit and striking out five.
It should not come as a surprise that Key is prepared to perform in big moments. His great grandfather was a 13-year MLB veteran, and he has other family members with professional baseball experience. Turning in a 13-2 record with a 1.17 ERA his senior year at Ridge Point High School earned him First Team All-State honors in Texas, and the number 33-ranked overall prospect in the state out of high school. Key will be taking these credentials west this summer to compete with the Santa Barbara Foresters.Follow along with the future Forester pitcher here.
Photo credit – Gregg Ellman, Texas Tech Athletics
Over a year into his tenure as head coach of the Walnut Creek Crawdads, Brant Cummings awaits his first game in the dugout of the team’s home field at St. Mary’s College.
The wait for the Crawdads organization to return to play has been even longer — after not fielding a team in 2019 as part of a rebuild, college summer baseball has been missing from Walnut Creek for some time.
With nearly three years between seasons, Cummings and the Crawdads have had more than enough time to consider who they want their players to be not just on the field, but also as people. They plan to continue that focus as they head into their 2021 campaign, focusing on helping players become better people and preparing them for life after baseball.
Cummings’ baseball journey began like many others, with a set of baseball cards gifted to him by his mother. Baseball cards turned into televised baseball games, which turned into professional ball games across the Bay Area.
Cummings tried his hand at playing baseball as well, taking part in the game at the youth league, high school and community college levels. At Albany High School, he played under the tutelage of John Delts, whom he credits with the development of his coaching philosophy when he moved from the diamond to the dugout.
His coaching career began not long after he decided to stop playing, and he landed his first gig coaching age 16-18 and 13-15 teams in North Oakland. Gaining that experience led to stints with Bishop O’Dowd High School, Laney College, Sierra College and Diablo Valley College.
Cummings describes his years as an assistant coach at Laney under head coach Rob Wilson as one of the best baseball experiences he’s had throughout his career.
“I learned a lot from that guy on how to organize your day, how to communicate with the kids,” Cummings said. “One of the things he focused heavily on was the lecture aspect of the teaching process, how to explain these guys, this is why we do it, this is how we do it.”
Cummings got his first taste of summer ball when Wilson tasked him with finding summer placements for players on the team. When he was unable to find spots for a number of athletes, Cummings formed his own summer team of Laney players and found games for them throughout the summer season.
Though the Laney team played only seven games during its first summer stint, Cummings gradually found more games for them to play every year — graduating to 22, 40 and as many as 50 games.
Cummings and the players jokingly called the practice “barnstorming the Bay Area” because they would play “anyone and everyone” willing to face them in Northern California.
“It was a real joy to coach those kids and go out and go places, especially when we had the opportunity to play in places where there were crowds, where most of our kids, they weren’t accustomed to that,” Cummings said.
After his years running summer ball at Laney, Cummings moved on to a new summer opportunity with the Folsom Pioneers. Cummings sought the advice of baseball minds around the Bay, including University of San Francisco assistant coach Troy Nakamura, to improve his summer recruiting skills. He was able to gradually shift his roster to include more Division I players, having as much as 75% of the roster from DI programs.
Cummings, who had more than made a name for himself in the San Francisco baseball community at that stage of his career, next took a position coaching the Neptune Beach Pearl. The Pearl’s rosters boasted future major league talent such as Kyle Barraclough and Ryan Cordell, both of whom he coached.
Just four seasons later, Cummings’ Pearl beat the Los Angeles Brewers to take home the 2015 CCL Championship.
“That weekend was some of the most unbelievable stuff, you couldn’t write this for a script,” Cummings said. “You could get Scorsese, you couldn’t get any of these wonderful writers to create some of the nonsense that occurred that weekend, that led to the championship, but that was a great experience, I think, for the kids, and they were able to dogpile it and regain and walk out of town with the trophy.”
After two more seasons, the Pearl chose to disband in 2017. Cummings subsequently took the 2018 season off and spent time away from the ballpark.
Cummings got a chance to return to coaching in 2019 when the Crawdads organization approached him about its desire to field a team again the following year. Walnut Creek hoped Cummings would accept the team’s head coaching position, but still had details to hammer out before it could announce an official return.
The primary issue stalling the Crawdads’ homecoming was lack of available field space in the baseball-saturated Bay Area. However, the Crawdads got a stroke of luck when St. Mary’s College head coach Greg Moore approached Cummings about getting a college ball team into SMC’s field for the summer, later allowing the University and team to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
As soon as the two came to a consensus in August 2019, Cummings got right to work assembling a 2020 roster.
Nevertheless, the team’s plans came to a screeching halt when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sports industry. Although the Crawdads’ 2021 season was canceled for health and safety purposes, Cummings was still glad to be back among baseball peers.
“Leading up to the pandemic and all of those things, I thought it went well, I was able to tap into some of my resources again and put together what I hoped would be a competitive roster,” Cummings said. “And unfortunately we weren’t able to play, but it felt good to be around the guys that I competed against on the field and worked with in the meetings and asked and so on, really enjoy the people that I haven’t had an opportunity to work with in this league.”
Cummings’ patience and attitude toward the Crawdads’ unfortunate situation is just one example of the levelheadedness and dedication he’s developed a reputation for in the baseball industry.
“Some people refer to it as old school,” Cummings said. “I’m not quite necessarily sure what that means versus new school, but I set guidelines and I hold the kids accountable and I tell them as much as I can how much I care and love them, but also make sure that they stick to whatever the plans are for themselves and for the team, because they’re going to be faced with guidelines and accountability for the rest of their lives.”
As a team-oriented leader, Cummings ensures that players remain accountable not only to themselves and their own improvement goals, but also the plans and aims of the team — “We’ll make this useful for everyone, but let’s make sure we stick to our plan,” Cummings said.
Cummings has also become known among college coaches for his willingness to help accomplish the goals of each coach for their players.
“So, we’re here to facilitate whatever their needs, whether it’s learning a new pitch, learning a new position,” Cummings said. “Put in specific situations, we try to do that as best we can for the needs of the coaches.”
“And that creates trust, and that’s very, very important because at the end of the day, if they trust you, they’ll do business with you. If they don’t, they won’t.”
Another quality Cummings and the entire Walnut Creek organization have made their name for is their commitment to the personal development of athletes away from the diamond.
One way the Crawdads have done so is to partner with More Than A Game, a nonprofit aimed at bringing baseball to communities across North and South America.
More Than A Game was created by Marshall Murray, one of the Crawdads’ founders, in 2010 after he spent years traveling to many different locations as part of Athletes in Action.
“They traveled to various locations around the world and were involved in communities in South America, and a couple other locations that he thought he would definitely like to create a team where they do something very similar, like go out, play baseball and do all those things to enhance their abilities as players, but along with that, the opportunity to see and visit other locations in the world, and to help people that are probably in a different situation than than they are,” Cummings said.
Sawyer Gieseke, a former Crawdads player, is one of many people involved with the nonprofit.
“What we do is we bring baseball to underprivileged communities all over the world, create scholarship opportunities for different countries that also provide more programs,” Gieseke said. “[Crawdads players] come out and they volunteer in the program.”
Players help lead clinics for young athletes looking to learn more about the sport, in addition to working on field construction projects and participating in other community events.
Athletes involved with the foundation value the opportunity to bring baseball to numerous people, spreading the joy of the game to those who have not previously had a chance to play the sport with adequate equipment, facilities and resources.
Whether through More Than A Game or the Crawdads team itself, Cummings hopes Crawdads athletes will take away more from their time in Walnut Creek than just new baseball skills.
“I love being on the field, and love helping young people become not just better players, but better human beings, and that’s one of the driving forces for me is to help in my small way, tomorrow’s leaders,” Cummings said. “These are tomorrow’s police officers, physicians, insurance, sales, fathers, uncles, they are the people we see in the community.”
“They learn valuable life lessons. That’s the number one for me, and if they get better as baseball players… that’s great, but I want them to be [as] terrific human beings as possible.”
To learn more about More Than A Game and find out how you can contribute, please visit morethanagame.org
Last summer, the Lincoln Potters were faced with a choice — shelve the upcoming season and protect the organization’s finances, or play on, taking advantage of their unique ability to conduct games during the pandemic and giving their athletes a chance to get back on the field after months of being stuck at home.
They chose the latter.
“We felt obligated to the players,” General Manager Matt Lundgren said. “We thought that if we could make it happen somehow that we would be doing a tremendous service to them to giving them an opportunity to play after them having their college seasons cut short.”
The Potters’ decision to continue with their season is indicative of the players-first mindset they have prioritized since their founding four years ago.
Although establishing a winning culture in the competitive CCL is no easy feat, the team’s dedication to its athletes and the Lincoln community enabled it to become a force in the Northern division.
The Potters trace their roots back to the 1920s, when ceramics company Gladding, McBean started a baseball team and sponsored it. The team adopted the Potters moniker in the 1940s, playing in the Placer Nevada League for several seasons. However, the Potters decided to cease operations in the 1960s, leaving McBean Field without a summer club for years.
In 2015, the City of Lincoln, Rocklin-based William Jessup University and Placer Valley Tourism agreed to renovate the field, making it possible for another team to take the former franchise’s place. The Great West League answered the call and brought the Potters on as its newest member.
When Lundgren was offered the chance to build the Lincoln franchise from the ground up in November 2016, he felt he could not pass up the opportunity.
Lundgren had spent the first years of his baseball career working for esteemed organizations already well entrenched within their markets, including the Cincinnati Reds and Tucson Padres. After serving as GM for an established organization in the Marysville Gold Sox, Lundgren wanted a change and a challenge.
It didn’t take long for Lundgren’s wish to be granted either — “I knew that it was going to be a lot of work, but it was way more work than I think I could have ever anticipated,” Lundgren said.
Upon assuming the GM role, Lundgren was immediately tasked with putting together a team that was set to take the field for Opening Day just six months later.
While Lundgren and the Potters’ front office got the team up and running for its first day of existence, the team still had more hurdles to clear when it came to becoming a fully fledged operation.
Perhaps no story better exemplifies the early days of the Potters franchise than the time a baseball flew out of the ballpark and into a nearby resident’s home, leading the city to install a 50-foot net surrounding the field.
“Naturally, the reason they built the net is a lady was using the restroom in her house and a ball went right through the window and landed on her lap, so that was the final straw,” Lundgren said with a chuckle.
In spite of the growing pains associated with starting an entire baseball franchise from scratch, Lundgren still appreciates the opportunities growing the Potters franchise provided him.
“It was awesome and I learned a lot through that,” Lundgren said.
Within their first few seasons of competition, the Potters established themselves in the Sacramento area and quickly drew the attention of baseball minds across the state.
Former CCL Commissioner Pat Burns was one of the first few individuals to take notice of the Potters, and he offered the team a chance to take part in the league’s affiliate program. After experiencing what the CCL had to offer, Lundgren decided to take the Lincoln organization to the next level and officially join the league the following season.
“We thought the CCL was the best fit for us,” Lundgren said. “We thought we could not only with the CCL help grow our brand, we thought we had a lot to offer to the CCL and help grow the CCL brand to establish a North conference with the [Healdsburg Prune Packers].”
Being part of the CCL is one major reason Lincoln has been able to attract top-level talent, Lundgren said, but he also credits the organization’s culture and existing relationships with college coaches for its success.
“We don’t let the baseball side of things fall short,” Lundgren said. “We take a lot of pride in player development, our relationships with college coaches around the country and trying to get as many players to the next level as possible.”
The Potters consider their fanbase one of their strongest assets, allowing them to grow in an already saturated baseball market.
“We’re fortunate to be in a community that welcomed us with open arms from the beginning, so that was the easy part, getting the community on board to support us,” Lundgren said.
As the Potters organization grew, so did its presence and importance within the Lincoln community.
One key Potters tradition is participating in Lincoln’s annual Fourth of July and Christmas parades, which draw crowds of 25,000 spectators. The Fourth of July event is a particularly memorable one for the team, as players from across the country get to experience a slice of Placer County tradition.
The Potters also partner with local Little League teams and schools, assisting them with fundraisers and offering them the opportunity to attend games.
The organization’s efforts to reach young baseball fans in Lincoln has made an impact. Some fans even prefer Potters games to San Francisco Giants games at the nearby Oracle Park, according to Lundgren.
“[Attending Potters games] is a completely different experience,” Lundgren said. “I think that that becomes more memorable for the younger generation, the baseball players and the softball players, that they get that experience.”
The Potters are already a must-see attraction for players and fans alike just four years after their founding, but Lundgren and other members of the organization are not done seeking out opportunities for growth.
One major milestone in the Potters’ future is hosting the CCL’s inaugural State Championship, which is scheduled for August. The Potters also hope to continue improving on their yearly results, continuing to make the playoffs each year and strive for better and better postseason results.
“That’s something that we want to keep building on, and obviously we want to win a championship,” Lundgren said. “We want to win the CCL North and we want to win the CCL State Tournament, as often as we can.”
Orange County Riptide alum Caleb Kilian is a former Texas Tech pitcher who was part of the Big-12 All-Conference First Team in 2018 and 2019. As a Red Raider, Kilian also set a team record for posting the best record in Big-12 play after going 7-0 in 2019. Kilian was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 8th round of the 2019 MLB Draft and currently pitches for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, the Short-Season Class A affiliate of the Giants.
Healdsburg Prune Packers alum Steven Wilson pitched for the Santa Clara Broncos, where he earned All-Western Coast Conference Honors as a senior in 2018. Wilson went on to be drafted in the 8th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. Wilson posted a 2.67 ERA with the club in 2019 after pitching for both the Padres’ Advanced-A and AAA affiliates. He is currently assigned to the Amarillo Sod Poodles in the Texas League, the Padres’ AA team.