| August 5, 2022
(SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA) – In a rematch of the 2021 CCL State Championship Game, the Healdsburg Prune Packers faced off against the hosting San Luis Obispo Blues in a primetime matchup on the first day of the 2022 CCL State Championship Tournament. With 177 combined years of baseball between the two plays this game was nothing short of dramatic, with the advantage falling to the reigning champions as they defeated San Luis Obispo 8-3.
Healdsburg wasted no time scoring in the first, jumping out to an early lead.
Zac Vooletich (Texas Tech) drew a walk and Joey Kramer (CSUN) sent through a single to put two men on. Braydon Runion (New Mexico) then shot a double into the alley to bring both around to score.
The game stayed quiet until the bottom of the third, when Healdsburg struck again. With two outs, Runion picked up a single to extend the inning. Samuel Brown (Washington St.) then sent a long double of his own, bringing Runion around the score.
San Luis Obispo picked up their first run in the top half of the fifth inning. With two outs Jake Simmons (CSUN) sent a triple off of the center field wall. After an error by the Healdsburg shortstop, Simmons crossed the plate.
The Prune Packers responded quickly. With two outs Braydon Runion grabbed a single to reach base for the third time in the game. A double by Samuel Brown brought Runion around to score to keep their lead at three runs.
Caden Noah (UT Arlington) exited the game with one out in the seventh inning. After just over six innings in the game, Noah allowed only three hits and zero earned runs to put the Prune Packers in a position to win their first game of the tournament.
“To be honest my fastball command was pretty horrible, but my off-speed pitches were working,” Noah said. “Joey [Gomes] had a lot of faith in me to go out there game one and get the job done … I just thank Joey for giving me that opportunity.”
San Luis Obispo made the game interesting in the top of the eighth inning. Jake Simmons grabbed his second hit of the day with a double to lead off the inning. Tate Samuelson drove Simmons in with a two out double.
After advancing to third base on a wild pitch, Samuelson crossed the plate to bring the Blues within striking distance.
Healdsburg would not stay quiet for long, and refused to settle after giving up the pair of runs. Sam Hunt (Texas Tech) entered the game and immediately picked up a leadoff single. Lauden Brooks (Texas Tech) then reached base on an error as Hunt crossed home.
Jake Holcroft (Portland) drew a walk to load the bases, and Vooletich sent out a sacrifice fly to score Kimble Schuessler (Texas). Runion struck again one final time, driving in two runs with a single to extend the Prune Packers lead to five runs entering the final frame.
“Toward the end of the season I was kind of struggling, but something about the playoffs. Everything means a little bit more,” Runion said. “Just try to lock in that much more, help my team win it all again.”
Devin Kirby entered in relief in the second and threw just under three innings. One of his most dominant innings, however, was the top of the ninth inning. Kirby needed only 11 pitches to retire three batters in a row and strike out one on his way to closing out the game for good.
Braydon Runion said that this team has a true desire to become back-to-back champions. “It kind of started off a little bit slow … [Gomes] pressures on us to just keep going,” said Runion. “This being my last year out in Healdsburg, it’d be really nice to go out as a champion again.”
Prune Packers Head Coach and General Manager Joey Gomes spoke highly of sticking to a daily routine as a team.
“I’d like to credit just our daily routines,” Gomes explained. “Really, it’s just sticking to a really strict routine.”
Gomes also recognizes the importance of grabbing that first victory, and the importance of not becoming complacent afterward.
“The first thing that we all talked about when we got back there was the job's not done,” Gomes stated. “But absolutely getting the first win is certainly nice.
The Prune Packers will play again on Friday at 7:00 p.m. PST against the Conejo Oaks, while the Blues will be back in action on Friday morning at 10:00 a.m. PST in an elimination game against the Walnut Creek Crawdads. Follow the action on the CCL’s Twitter and Instagram pages, or tune into the broadcast on the CCL YouTube.
Impact Player of the Game: Braydon Runion (New Mexico)
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