| June 24, 2021
Lucas Banks, CCL Reporter
The California Collegiate League season is fully underway, with all 10 teams in action this past week. The CCL North division consists of the Healdsburg Prune Packers (10-1), Walnut Creek Crawdads (6-7), Solano Mudcats (3-7), and Lincoln Potters (11-11), who have all been playing non-conference games for over a week. The teams in the CCL South division are the Orange County Riptide (6-2), Arroyo Seco Saints (4-2), Santa Barbara Foresters (4-0), MLB Academy Barons (0-2), San Luis Obispo Blues (8-1), and the Conejo Oaks (3-0), with the Oaks, Barons, and Foresters playing their first games of the summer this week. Here is a review of CCL action from June 14-20 for all 10 clubs.
CCL North Division
(Team, Week Record)
Healdsburg Prune Packers: 6-0
The Packers had a perfect week, putting up double digit runs in every game except their 5-3 victory over the Potters on Thursday. Outfielder Jesse Lopez (CSU Long Beach) was on fire, going 13-24 (.542) with 2 doubles, a triple, 2 home runs, and 10 RBIs. First baseman Blake Burke (Tennessee) was impressive as well, slashing 11 hits in 25 at bats (.440) with 2 home runs and 7 RBI.
Healdsburg had a couple of strong performances on the mound, as junior Shane Omalley (U of Nevada, Reno) tossed 5 shutout innings, striking out 6 in the Packers 13-1 win over the Force. John White (UC Berkeley) hurled 3 strong innings on Wednesday, allowing only 1 base runner and striking out 5.
Healdsburg heads into next week in first place, and will play the Crawdads and Mudcats once, the Potters twice, and the West Coast Kings twice next week.
Lincoln Potters: 2-4
The Potters have played the most games out of anyone in the league, holding a 9-7 entering the week. They started out their season with 8 straight wins, but cooled off quickly and suffered a three-game sweep last weekend against the Blues. Left fielder Quinton Hall (Johnson County CC) has been one of the most consistent hitters on the team, hitting .333 with 4 homers and 24 RBIs including a 2-homer game during Friday’s 22-5 rout of the Gold Sox. Right fielder Jason Brandow (Cal State Fullerton) hit a 3-run homer in the Potters 5-2 win over the Mudcats on Tuesday, and lifted his batting average to .327 on the young season.
Carson Kohls (Penn St.) had a great start for Lincoln during Tuesday’s win, throwing 5 innings and giving up only 1 run on 2 hits. He lowered his season ERA to 3.27, and struck out 4 while earning his first win of the summer.
The Potters will face the Crawdads, Mudcats, and Packers twice each next week and will be looking to get back to their early season successes.
Walnut Creek Crawdads: 1-5
The Crawdads spent the week on the road, splitting a two-game series in San Luis Obispo against the Blues and dropping their next three games against the Saints, Riptide and Oaks. Outfielder Curran Ozawa-Burns (West Valley College), who hit 3 home runs last week, continued his hot streak as he went 6-19 (.316) with 3 doubles and 2 RBIs. Diego Muniz has been smashing the ball, owning a .370 batting average thus far with 7 RBIs.
Left-hander Ole Iversen (Diablo Valley College) tossed a gem on Tuesday, going 5 innings and earning the win while only allowing 1 hit and striking out 5. Foster Gifford (Wichita St.) entered in relief during the loss to Arroyo Seco and didn’t allow a base runner, working 2.1 innings and striking out 3.
Walnut Creek will play the Potters and Mudcats twice each next week, and will face the first-place Packers on Wednesday.
Solano Mudcats: 0-4
The Mudcats lost a close game to the Lincoln Potters on Tuesday, and were off Wednesday and Thursday before losing three straight games to the Blues this weekend. Last Sunday, Solano split a double header, winning a thriller against Walnut Creek 8-7 in the first and falling to the West Coast Kings 15-7 in the second. Mudcats shortstop Tassos Foster (Williamette) has been off to a hot start, (12-35, .375), and had 4 hits in the lead off spot during the victory over Walnut Creek on Sunday. First baseman Justin Banks (St. Mary’s, CA) has been a reliable bat in the middle of the order all season long. He had 3 knocks against the Kings on Sunday, helping raise his average up to .323 (10-31).
Solano will play the Potters three times next week, the Packers once and the Crawdads twice trying to get back into the win column.
CCL South Division
Santa Barbara Foresters: 4-0
The Foresters looked like the defending CCL champs in their first few games of the year, as they demolished the Santa Paula Halos 27-1 on Thursday night and 24-1 on Friday. Projected to be one of the top teams in the league, Santa Barbara had 39 hits in their first two games. Center fielder Kendall Pettis (Oklahoma) went 5-15 (.333) with 7 RBIs hitting lead off for the Foresters, while shortstop Jack Riedel (North Carolina) was 7-15 (.556) with a homer and 3 RBIs hitting right behind him.
Right-hander Chase Farrell (Ventura College) was dominant on Friday, striking out 8 Halos in his 5 innings of work and giving up just the one run. Gabriel Starks (Arkansas Fayettesville) pitched 3 innings on Thursday and 1 on Sunday without allowing a hit, striking out 6.
The Foresters will play the Oaks and Riptide twice each next week, with a game against the Barons and one against the Blues.
Orange County Riptide: 3-0
Orange County took a trip up north to Fairbanks, Alaska to open their season against the Fairbanks Goldpanners, Bercovich Collegiate, and the San Diego Waves. The Riptide played well in what they call the Golden Heart City, winning 4 out of 6 and averaging 11 runs per game. They kept the momentum going once they got back to Southern California, beating the SoCal Sheperds 12-4 on Thursday night.
Averaging just over 10 runs per game and hitting .366 as a team, Orange County has been the best offensive team in the league by far at the start of the season. First baseman Jack-Thomas Wold (UNLV) has been on a tear early on, hitting .393 with 2 homers and 7 RBIs, but doesn’t lead the team in RBIs. Austin Kryszczuk (UNLV) is tied with him at 7 RBIs and hitting .429, but Eric Bigani (UNLV) leads the team with 8 RBIs and is hitting .500 (8-16), including a walk-off single against the Crawdads Friday night.
Left-handed pitcher Spencer Edwards (Cornell) had a stellar start against Bercovich Collegiate, as he pitched 5 innings and allowed only 1 hit, striking out 4.
The Riptide will play the Saints and Foresters twice next week, which should be great match-ups considering the teams’ early records.
Conejo Oaks: 3-0
The Oaks started their season on a high note, winning all three of their games during the week. They beat the Ventura County Pirates 15-2 in the season opener, and took two in a row from the Crawdads last weekend to complete the perfect week. First baseman Brendan Bobo (Cal St. Fullerton) was a hit machine for the Oaks, compiling 8 hits in his 12 at bats, including a 2 homer game against Walnut Creek on Saturday. Right Fielder TJ Foreman was another reliable bat at the top of the order, putting up a .357 average to go along with his 3 RBIs through the first three games.
Conejo will play the Foresters and Saints twice next week, with one game against the Barons and one against the Santa Barbara Grizzlies.
San Luis Obispo Blues: 5-1
San Luis Obispo got off to a great start this season, completing a 3 game sweep of the Lincoln Potters last weekend. They kept it going this week, splitting two games with the Crawdads and sweeping the Mudcats this weekend. They’ve been led on offense by first baseman Trey Clarkson (Utah, .583, 1 HR, 7 RBI) and third baseman Mason Grotto (Fresno State, .441, 1 HR, 15 RBI). Hitting consistently in the middle of the order, these two guys have been great run producers early in the season. Catcher Austin Schell (Cal St. Fullerton) is right up there with them, hitting .467 with a home run and 10 RBIs.
Lefty Austin Teixeira (Hawaii) was dealing on Friday, finishing 4 innings and allowing only 1 base runner while striking out 4. Matthew Sox (Utah) continued his hot start to the season, pitching 4 shutout innings on Thursday against the Barons, giving up 1 hit and striking out 6.
The Blues will play the Saints and the Foresters once next week before starting a three-game series against the Humboldt Crabs on Friday.
Arroyo Seco Saints: 3-2
Starting their season with a 12-3 win over the San Diego Force on Saturday, the Saints bats stayed hot throughout the week, helping them win their first three games of the week. Jag Burden (UC Berkeley) has been the most consistent starter for the Saints, recording a hit in each contest to claim a .316 batting average with 3 RBIs. Catcher Bo Willis (Weatherford College) has swung the bat well early on as he is hitting .313, with Brandon Bohning (Cal State Northridge) not far behind at .278. Bohning has been an on-base machine, sporting a .435 on-base percentage and leading the team with 3 hit-by-pitches.
Southpaw Merek Sears (Washington State) had one of the best pitching performances for the Saints on Wednesday, tossing 5 innings and earning the win while allowing only one unearned run. Daniel Ritcheson (San Diego St.) has been nasty in the later innings, as he’s struckout 8 batters in his 3 innings of work so far this season.
The Saints will play the Riptide and the Oaks twice, with a game against the Blues and one against the Barons as well.
Academy Barons: 0-2
The Barons only had two games this week, losing 8-0 to San Luis Obispo on Thursday in their home opener and dropping an 11-1 contest to the Foresters on Sunday. They didn’t get much going against Santa Barbara, but Julian Boyd (Golden West College) went yard for the Barons first home run of the year. Shortstop Nicolas Malbrough (Mission College) had the only two hits for the Barons (two doubles) in the loss to the Blues on Thursday. Andy Hurtado (Cerritos College) pitched two shutout innings without allowing a hit on Sunday, and he’ll look to lead the way for the pitching staff going into next week.
The Barons will play four different teams next week, starting off with a game against the Oaks on Wednesday, followed by the Riptide, Saints, and Foresters.
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