| August 7, 2022
SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA -- The Conejo Oaks and Orange County Riptide faced off on Saturday, playing for the final spot in the CCL State Championship Game. The Oaks took a 3-1 lead in the third and never looked back, cruising to a dominant 10-2 victory.
The Oaks’ offense looked ready to go in this one. After Tyler Ganus (Oregon) was hit by a pitch, fellow Oregon Duck Gavin Grant (Oregon) singled and Josiah Chavez (Cal Baptist) smacked a single to bring in the game’s first run.
The Riptide quickly struck back in the top of the second. Nathan Manning (Cal Berkely) led off the inning with a single into center field. Isaiah Morales then singled to right, and an error by the right fielder allowed Morales to move up to second, and Manning to tie the game.
The Oaks pulled ahead during the bottom of the third when a grounder by Grant gave Ganus enough time to tally his second run of the afternoon. Chavez then ripped an RBI-double into center field, scoring AJ Salgado (UCLA) and increasing the lead to 3-1.
Salgado delivered another blow to the Riptide in the next frame, as he singled to drive in Austin Carrillo (Uncommitted).
Oaks’ starter Thomas Brandenburg (Oregon) appeared seemingly unhittable through 5.0 innings on the mound. The Kalama, Washington native logged seven strikeouts while conceding only two hits and a lone earned run. Brandenburg said that he felt good Saturday, especially with an explosive offense to back him up.
“It’s been that way all season, they’ve had my back. It was really big to get those two runs in the bottom of the third after they [the Riptide] tied it up in the second... I have a lot of confidence in them too,” said Brandenburg.
Conejo’s biggest inning was the fifth, which began with Zach Daudet (Regis) and Raul Sandoval (UC Davis) reaching base via singles. Two consecutive walks drawn by Carrillo, David Whittle (San Diego State) and Jack Brooks (Oregon) helped Daudet and Sandoval cross the dish and extend the Oaks’ lead.
The scoring spree continued when Tyler Ganus hit a grounder that brought in Carrillo. AJ Salgado was then walked before an error by the second baseman allowed Whittle and Brooks to cash in, rounding out a mammoth five-run frame for the Oaks.
Orange County scored their final run in the top of the sixth inning. After Nathan Manning singled with one out, a pair of errors by Conejo’s pitcher and shortstop allowed Manning to cross the plate.
The Oaks got one more punch in during the seventh as Salgado crushed a solo shot, putting his team into double digits. Salgado said he was looking for a fastball, and was ready for a pitch to swing at after getting ahead in the count.
“I was really hunting the fastball. First pitch was up and away for a ball, and I was really geared up for that middle-in fastball, and that’s what I got,” recalled Salgado.
Matt Maloney (New Mexico State) entered the game in the eighth inning for the Riptide and stopped the bleeding at the end of the game. Having already pitched in the tournament, Maloney could only throw one inning. The right-hander faced the minimum, and struck out a pair of Oaks batters along the way.
The Oaks’ defense, along with closer Nick Rincover (UC Irvine), was able to close out the Riptide and secure a 10-2 victory.
With the win, Conejo punched their ticket to the CCL State Championship game, where they will face the North Division powerhouse Healdsburg Prune Packers. The two teams met in Friday’s semifinal game, which resulted in a 13-4 victory for Healdsburg. When asked about the rematch, Salgado said that he trusts his team but wants to see them be more aggressive at the dish.
“Honestly, for all of us, just more aggression at the plate than last night when we played them [Healdsburg],” Salgado said. “I think if we do that, our pitching will be fine, and we’ll do well.”
Conejo’s rematch against the Packers is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. PST. Follow the action on the CCL’s Instagram and Twitter accounts, or tune into the league’s YouTube broadcast.
Impact Player of the Game: Thomas Brandenburg (Oregon)
5.0 IP, 7 K, 2 H, 1 ER, Winning Pitcher
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