Baseball: Santa Barbara Bracket Preview

The bracket will be held in Santa Barbara, California with the host team being Westmont. The bracket will feature the top seeded USAO Drovers, 2 seed Westmont College Warriors, 3 seed Antelope Valley Pioneers, 4 seed Arizona Christian Firestorm and 5th seed Jamestown Jimmies.

1. USAO Drovers (#7)

The Drovers come into the opening round with an impressive 43-10 record on the season and are currently riding a 22 game win streak. USAO was not only the regular season champion of the Sooner Athletic Conference but they would also go onto win the tournament championship. The Drovers have reached the opening round 5 times with the last time being in 2018.

The Drovers have dominated both sides of the ball but the most notable is the controlling pitching staff. The USAO staff is led by the trio of Colton Williams, Matt Merrill and Jean Muntaner. Williams, the SAC pitcher of the year, is 14-0 on the season with a 1.17 ERA. He has cashed in 117 strikeouts in 84.2 innings of work. Merrill is 10-1 on the season for the Drovers and holds a 1.91 ERA. Merrill has punched out 118 in 75.1 innings pitched. Muntaner is 12-1 with a 2.69 ERA and has sat down 85 via the strikeout during his 80.1 innings on the mound. Out of the pen the Drovers rely on the Righty’s Rudy Gonzalez and Miles Robertson. Gonzalez is 4-2 with a 1.20 ERA and is holding opponents to a .161 batting average on the season. Robertson has picked up 19.1 innings for the Drovers and owns a team best 0.93 ERA. He has 23 strikeouts and only allowed 4 walks on the season.

The Drovers offense holds a team batting average of .343 and has racked up 60 home runs on the season. Some highlighted players for the Drovers are Luis Pelayo, P.J. Garcia and Alex Sanchez. Pelayo has kept pitchers off balanced all season long hitting .414 with 70 hits and 6 home runs for the Drovers. Pelayo also leads the teams in free passes as he has collected 36 walks on the season. Garcia has put together another impressive season as he is hitting .391 and has collected a team high 72 hits on the season for USAO. Alex Sanchez is currently hitting .379 for the Drovers and has tallied 13 home runs on the season.

Shortstop P.J. Garcia said “This regional has a lot of competition in it and we are looking forward to playing. The team has been focusing on one game a day. As long as we stay with that as our mindset I like our chances. Our pitchers and hitters need to just keep competing with each other and push each other to be better.”

2. Westmont College Warriors (#22)

The Warriors come into the opening round game with a 34-14 record on the season. Westmont is out of the Golden State Athletic Conference. The Warriors will be the host team for this weekends opening round tournament. Westmont has now made the opening round 5 years with their last debut coming in 2018.

The Warriors pitching staff has a team ERA of 4.47 on the season and have held opponents to a .265 batting average. Some featured pitchers for Westmont are Kody Mclain, Justin Sanders and Grant Gardner. Mclain out of the bullpen has a 3-0 record and has picked up 34 strikeouts in 33.2 innings of work for the Warriors and is holding opponents to a .186 batting average on the season. Sanders is 7-3 on the season for the Warriors with a 3.67 ERA in 73.2 innings and 64 strike outs. Gardner is 9-2 with a 5.63 ERA for the Warriors with 40 strikeouts and 22 walks in his 78.1 innings of work.

The bats for Westmont come into the tournament with a team average of .308 on the year. The main supply of offense is from Tyler Roper and Bryce Morison. Roper is hitting .370 for the Warriors with 54 hits on the season. Morison has had a dominating season as he is hitting .363 with 11 home runs, 15 doubles and 55 RBI’s on the season.

Catcher Tyler Roper said “Well this year our team has gone through a ton of adversity. But no matter what we face our team has responded. We have a reselient bunch that will not go down without a fight. When you get to this point in the postseason every team is good and are ready to play. I am looking forward to playing at home on our beautiful field. Our coaches have put in so many hours to make the facility look the way it will on opening day. I am looking forward to a great week of baseball.”

Outfielder Bryce Morison said “We are very excited to host this tournament. We are extremely proud of our school and baseball program and are excited to share it with the teams coming from around the country. Any time you get a chance to play a post-season game at home, it’s a special experience. We are just super grateful for this experience and are excited for the opportunity to play against some of the best teams in the country. The key for our team to succeed will be just playing our brand of baseball. We pride ourselves on our taking care of the little things, pitching and defense are critical for us. When we have faltered as a team it has been a result of a lack of taking care of the small things. So not allowing free passes will be critical for us.”

3. Antelope Valley Pioneers

The Pioneers come into the opening round with a 33-17-1 record and are also riding a win streak of there own at 20 games. The Pioneers start there season shaky as they would fall to a 1-8 record, but would quickly turn that around and win 32 of their next 42 games. The Pioneers just recently captured their 4th straight Cal Pac title that gave them an automatic bid into the tournament. This will be the Pioneers 2nd appearance in the tournament.

The offense for the Pioneers have a team batting average of .320 on the season with 47 home runs. Two highlighted player on the offensive side are Kaleyl Anderson and Jacob Ogle. Anderson is hitting .401 with 4 home runs and 46 RBI’s on the season. Ogle is hitting .362 with 32 RBI’s and a team high in hits with 71.

The Pitching core for Antelope Valley has a combined ERA of 5.37 and has held opponents to a .286 batting average over the season. The pitching staff is being held down by Isaiah Ramos and Cameron Heinrich. Ramos Is 7-4 on the season with a 4.70 ERA for the Pioneers. Ramos has thrown 82.1 innings, struck out 60 and is holding opponents to a .234 batting average on the season.

4. Arizona Christian Firestorm (#25)

The Firestorm come into the tournament with a 38-19 record. With that record they were able to get an at-large bid into the opening round tournament. Arizona Christian is out of the Golden State Athletic Conference and finished 2nd in the regular season standings. Arizona Christian is heading to the opening round for the 2nd time with the last time being in 2012.

The offense for the Firestorm has a team batting average of .329 and has connected on 33 home runs on the year. The offense for Arizona Christian is led by Brent Smith and Robert Bostedt. Smith has an average of .417 for the Firestorm and leads his team in hits with 83 on the season. Smith has an on base percentage of .469 as he has drawn 14 walks. Bostedt is hitting .366 on the season, with 19 doubles and has 43 RBI’s on the season. He has also connected for 5 home runs on the season.

Arizona Christian pitching staff has a team ERA of 5.47 with 365 strikeouts on the year and have held opponents to a .291 batting average. The staff is held down by Brett Aker and Trevor Mcgee. Aker is 10-2 on the season with a 3.99 ERA in 85.2 innings. Mcgee is 8-1 on the season in 93 innings with 58 strikeouts on the year.

Outfielder Robert Bostedt said “From an offensive standpoint; We play loose, and have a lot of fun. Our lineup has the talent to compete and beat anyone in the country, and we truly believe that. Advancing simply depends on our ability to execute when it counts, if we can do that, I like our chances.”

Pitcher Brett Aker said “What got us here is just consistency all around. We have swung it really well all year and played great defense. On the mound as long as we compete and keep us in the game I believe we have a good shot to make some noise and hopefully get the World Series.”

Infielder Eric Schwalbe said “Our season has probably been one of the best in program history. The adversity and family atmosphere is what brought us to this point. We don’t really need to change anything going into this tournament. As long as we keep scoring runs every inning and our pitchers put a solid performance we definitely can win.”

5. Jamestown Jimmies

The Jimmies head to the regional with a 35-16 record and are coming off a Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament title. This will be Jamestown 8 appearance in the opening round tournament.

Jamestown pitching personnel comes into the tournament with a team ERA currently sitting at 4.38 on the year. They have thrown 397.0 innings on the season and have sat down 353 via the strikeout. The staff is controlled by Kensaku Akiya and Austin Pesicka. Akiya is 7-0 on the season with a 3.63 ERA and he is holding opponents to a .255 batting average. Akiya has thrown 62.0 innings on the season and has struck out 47 batters. Pesicka is 4-1 with a 2.10 ERA on the season and is holding opponents to a .191 batting average on the season, which is best on the team.

The bats for the Jimmies have a combined team average of .297 and they have connected for 39 home runs on the year. The bats for Jamestown are led by Drake Pilat and Jaden Yackley. Pilat is currently hitting .363 with 27 RBI’s and 2 home runs. Yackley is hitting .346 with 18 doubles, 5 home runs and 64 hits throughout the season which is good enough for the team best.

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