It was certainly a good year for the Saints. 

An argument could be made that no area athletic program matched the success of Santa Maria High School in 2017.

In fact, no story from the year beat out the one coming from Santa Maria High, according to the Lee Central Coast Newspapers sports staff at least.

Santa Maria's run to the CIF Southern Section Division 6 baseball championship has been voted the No. 1 story of 2017 by the LCCN staff, just edging out the No. 2 story, which also involves the Saints in a CIF title game. 

Underdog Santa Maria defeated Moreno Valley 8-0 in the Division 6 title game on June 3 in Riverside, playing just 10 minutes away from Moreno Valley's campus.

Santa Maria junior Trevor Garcia threw a complete game shutout in the title game. Garcia said after the win that he wasn't fazed by the importance of the game. He coolly limited Moreno Valley to just four hits while striking out seven and walking one.

"I can't let anything affect me out there and if I do I just have to let it go," Garcia said after the win. "I've never really reacted much. I've always been kind of a calm guy and easygoing." 

After Garcia induced the final out, the Saints rushed the mound to pile on their pitcher, celebrating the school's first CIF championship in baseball since 1957.

But Santa Maria didn't just grind its way to a CIF title. The Saints did it in dominant fashion, outscoring their six playoff opponents 66-12. 

Santa Maria had to play six playoff games because it entered the CIF Southern Section playoffs as a wild card team. The Saints went 15-11 in the regular season and 12-9 in the Los Padres League, just narrowly qualifying for a playoff spot. 

Santa Maria's run ended in dominance, but the Saints limped through the regular season, struggling to find consistency against LPL competition, culminating in a three-game sweep to Santa Ynez in the middle of April.

But the Saints began May with a pair of shutout wins over Templeton and ended the regular season with a 5-1 win over Nipomo to start the postseason with some momentum.

The Saints then began the Division 6 playoffs at home against Santa Monica New Roads. Santa Maria won that game 14-1.

The Saints didn't have to travel very far for their first-round game. They played at Dunn in Los Olivos and roared past the Earwigs 13-4.

Then it was onto the second round, where Santa Maria again hosted a playoff game, this one coming against Ventura's Foothill Tech. The Saints had their toughest challenge of the postseason in that one, fending off the Dragons 4-2 and moving on to the quarterfinals.

Santa Maria hosted Big Bear then and cruised into the semifinals with a 16-4 victory. The Saints had to hit the road for the semifinals and did so with ease, playing Southlands Christian near Rowland Heights and winning 10-1.

Then came the title game, where Garcia was untouchable on the mound. Offensively, Santa Maria relied on a multitude of players to scratch across runs, a trend that lasted throughout the playoffs.

In the win over Moreno Valley, Tommy Herrera, then then Saints' sophomore catcher, went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Slim Lopez, who will be back in 2018, finished up 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI and Boogie Rodriguez, who has since graduated, finished up 2-for-2 with a pair of runs and an RBI. 

Bobby Ruiz, the No. 8 hitter, sparked Santa Maria's offense against Moreno Valley, lacing a two-run single to give Santa Maria its first lead, which the Saints never relinquished. 

Santa Maria should return the core from its title team in 2018 as the Saints gun for their third straight playoff berth and perhaps a second straight CIF title. The Saints will also have expectations to compete for a Los Padres League championship in 2018. 

The Saints had eight players who were juniors or younger on the 2017 team and could once again be placed in Division 6, though the Saints do lose 2017 All-Area MVP Paul Navarro, who has since graduated.

Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at jbailey@leecentralcoastnews.com or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jbaileysmsports

0
0
0
0
0

Load comments