| July 14, 2023
By CCL Reporter Sam Nute
(COMPTON, CA) – On Wednesday, July 12, the CCL’s top talent across the league gathered at the MLB Youth Academy to celebrate the annual CCL Showcase Game. This year’s contest dubbed the CCL 30 Showcase Game honoring the league’s 30th season was broadcasted live on eight Bally Sports' regional networks across the country.
Sonoma Stompers outfielder Noah Rabin (Illinois State) took home Offensive Player of the Game honors thanks to his monster two-run home run in the fifth inning. On the mound, Santa Barbara Foresters’ right-handed pitcher Robert Cranz set the tone for the South, striking out three in the first inning earning Pitcher of the Game. Healdsburg Prune Packer Damian Bravo (Texas Tech) excelled in the field racking up four putouts en route to the Defensive Player of the Game award.
Cranz shut down the North in the top of the first inning following by an equally impressive performance from North starting pitcher, Prune Packer Myles Patton (Long Beach State).
The offensive would pick-up in the second. An RBI single from Walnut Creek Crawdad Matt King (UTSA) started things off and was soon followed by a throwing error, bringing in the North’s second run.
Throughout the game, each team seemed to answer whenever the other scored. The South did just that with a run in the second frame before taking the lead in the third, completing the game’s first comeback. MLB Youth Academy Barons second baseman Kamau Neighbors (Cal State Northridge) – who was quick on the base paths all night – tied the game at two, scoring from first on a double by Foresters catcher John Newman. The South then took the lead on a passed ball to enter the fourth up 3-2.
The pendulum would swing once again in the fifth inning as the North tied the game on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Stompers catcher Omar Gastelum (San Jose State). With two outs on the board, Rabin would then crushed a 1-1 pitch, sending the game’s lone homer over the right-field wall and giving a 5-3 lead to the North.
It appeared the North might have put the game away when they extended their lead to 7-3 in the top of the seventh, but the South would have one more comeback left in them. After responding with two runs of their own in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead back to just two, the South exploded for four more in the bottom of the eighth, taking an 8-7 lead on a bloop two-RBI single from Foresters outfielder Will Rogers (Michigan). A sacrifice fly from Conejo Oaks catcher Brendan Durfee would pad the South’s lead, making the score 9-7 heading into the game’s final inning.
Durfee’s insurance run would prove crucial as the North would attempt one more rally, scoring a run in the top of the ninth and advancing the tying run in scoring position. However, the South closed it out, stranding the runner on second to seal a 9-8 CCL 30 Showcase Game victory.
The game was not the only event taking place at the MLB Youth Academy on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, the CCL hosted a combine for scouts and college coaches, USA Baseball Player Development Pipeline testing, and its inaugural Home Run Derby presented by Walter Bat Company. Six sluggers from across the league participated in a single-elimination tournament of three, three-minute rounds.
The objective? Hit as many home runs as possible, and that they did. In the championship round, it was No. 5-seeded shortstop Dominic Hellman (Oregon) from the Foresters and No. 6-seeded catcher Brendan Durfee (Cal Lutheran) from the Oaks facing off.
Durfee topped Hellman’s six home runs with seven of his own, making him the Walter Bat Company 2023 CCL 30 Showcase Game Home Run Derby Champion.
Next up for the league is chase to the 2023 CCL State Championship, August 1-6. Featuring an updated postseason format, the CCL’s 11 teams will vie for a spot in a best two-out-of-three game series Friday to Sunday, August 4-6.
Following a coin flip at a regular offseason league meeting, the South Division representative will serve as the State Championship host this year. The North Division will host next year and rotate back and forth between Northern and Southern California in subsequent years.
To get to the State Championship, the CCL’s second and third place teams from each division, North and South, will take part in the 2023 CCL Division Wild Card Round on Tuesday, August 1. The winners of these two Wild Card games will then play the first-place teams in their respective divisions on Wednesday, August 2 for a chance at taking home the CCL’s 2023 State title.
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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, […]Read More
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 […]Read More