| July 25, 2023
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.
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