July 22, 2009, Palm Springs, CA – The Palm Springs POWER are now the Southern California Collegiate Baseball Champions after a strong offensive outing against the Orange County Pioneers to win 10-5 inside Scolinos Field at Cal Poly Pomona University on Wednesday afternoon.
The POWER won their first outright title in the SCCBA with solid performances from starting pitcher Travis Blankenship and Tyler Saladino had three base knocks including two doubles, was hit by two pitches, and scored three runs. Blankenship (7-0) earned the win after going five innings, allowing one run, and had five punch outs on the day.
“We are very proud to be the undisputed conference champs,” POWER Owner Andrew Starke. “This is a championship that has eluded us for the past three years, but these players and coaches have done an outstanding job to get us to this point of the season and we are very proud to represent the community.”
After a solid first inning from both teams, the POWER were able to get on the score board in the top of the second. Mercer University infielder John Moreland walked to start the inning before Max Willett grounded into a fielder’s choice. Brett Christopher had a seeing eye single up the middle and P.J. Jimenez hit a gapper into right-centerfield to score both Willett and Christopher to grab a 2-0 advantage.
Two singles from Sharif Othman and Jay Ponciano put runners on for Brian Heere who popped up in left field for a sacrifice fly and a 3-0 lead in the third inning.
The POWER separated themselves in the fifth frame, plating five runs during the inning. Saladino led off and smacked a double to left field, Othman then hit a flair that dropped into right field to score Saladino. Brett Hambright continued with another single and Jay Ponciano beat out a throw that went over Pioneers first baseman Bryan Knapp’s head and scored Hambright. Heere stepped up and singled on the second pitch on a grounder that just missed the outstretched glove of second baseman Robert Cortwright’s glove and plated two runs. A few batters later Willett hit a sac fly to score Heere for the 8-0 lead.
After the POWER scored five runs, the Pioneers made a comeback attempt in the bottom of the fifth. Blankenship saw seven batters in the inning and surrendered three hits and three runs (one earned) in the inning after the Pioneers first two hitters reached on errors. Knapp hit a double with the bases juiced that scored two runs before Erik Hempe was gunned down by Hambright in a collision at the plate. Runners are not allowed to run into the catcher and Hempe was tossed out of the game along with two other Pioneer players and trailed 8-3.
The POWER scored two more runs in the game before Dylan Lightell and Bryan Longpre shut the door for the win.
The 2009 SCCBA Champions will have a nonconference game on Friday with the Bay Cal Yankees with the first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. Angel Mata is the likely starter for the POWER.