Folsom Lake, Saddleback, Santa Ana and Sierra converge for 3C2A Baseball Championship this weekend

Folsom Lake, Saddleback, Santa Ana and Sierra converge for 3C2A Baseball Championship this weekend

CCCAA State Championship
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FOLSOM – Four months of baseball have left four teams remaining for this weekend’s California Community College Athletic Association Baseball State Championships, which kick off on Saturday at noon at Folsom Lake College.

For the opening game, the top seed from Southern California, Saddleback College (36-11) will take on Northern California’s No. 2 seed, Sierra (34-13) on Saturday at noon. The nightcap of Day 1 will feature the north’s top seed and host school, Folsom Lake (36-11), taking on the south’s No. 2-seed, Santa Ana (33-15), beginning at 6 p.m.

On Day 2, the loser of both games will play in an elimination game on Sunday at 10 a.m. with the winning teams from Day 1 going at it at 2 p.m. The winner of the 10 a.m. game and the loser of the 2 p.m. game will play the third-and-final game of the day, with Championship Monday kicking off at 11 a.m. at FLC.

Tickets for the state championships are available here. Live streams for all games are available here, courtesy BAOSN.

Here is a team-by-team breakdown …


FOLSOM LAKE (Northern California’s No. 3 Seed)
The lone school returning from last year’s State Final Four, the 2023 state runner-up Falcons will have knowledge, experience, and the home crowd all in their favor. After finishing third in the jam-packed Big 8 Conference, Folsom Lake swept College of Marin (15-4, 7-4), won 2-of-3 in the Super Regional against Fresno City (3-10, 13-2) and Los Medanos (10-7), then outlasted conference-rival San Joaquin Delta in a best-of-three series (12-6, 2-8, 11-4) to return home and host the State Final Four for the second year in a row.

A pair of boppers in the middle of the batting order lead the way for the Falcons in sophomores J.T. Waldon and Logan Sutter. Waldon comes into the Final Four with a .380 batting average with 78 hits, 69 runs, 10 HR and 68 RBI, while Sutter comes in at .390 with 76 hits, 65 runs, 10 HR and 67 RBI. With a .321 team batting average and seven players with 50 hits or more, there is not an easy out to be found in the FLC lineup.

On the mound, Andrew Neil has been the innings eater for the Falcons with a 9-3 record and a 4.22 ERA with 71 strikeouts over 74 2/3 innings. Sophomore Cameron Saso is 5-1 with a save and a 4.31 ERA, striking out 60 over 54 1/3 innings. Out of the bullpen, closer Nate Brouse is 3-1 with eight saves and a 3.99 ERA with 34 Ks over 38 1/3 innings. 

SIERRA (Northern California’s No. 5 Seed)
A fellow Big 8 neighbor with the Falcons, the Wolverines survived the conference gauntlet to a fourth-place finish, then proceeded to topple the College of the Sequoias (8-5, 5-1) before going 3-0 in the Super Regional (12-3, 7-0, 3-2). In the Sectionals, Sierra battled Big-8 co-champion, Santa Rosa, in a three-game series (9-4, 1-8, 11-8) to advance to the state championship tournament.

The only team remaining with a team average under .300, the Wolverines still are a line-up to not take lightly. Sophomore Zach Chamizo leads Sierra with a .368 average with 70 hits, 50 runs, 19 doubles, and 42 RBI. Fellow sophomore Alex Johnson has a solid .343 average with 59 hits, 46 runs and 30 RBI to go along with 20 stolen bases. In fact, Sierra’s 81 stolen bases as a team is far and away, the tops among the four remaining teams in the tournament.

The Wolverine pitching staff has been holding the fort down, and then some this season. Their team ERA of 3.64 is third-best in California, while their 450 strikeouts is second-most in the state as well. Sophomore Jaccob Torres has been lights out for the Wolverines, posting a 9-1 record with a microscopic 1.91 ERA, allowing just 16 earned runs over 75 1/3 innings with 72 strikeouts. Right next to Torres is flamethrower Kai Peterson, who is 9-1 with a 3.70 ERA and an incredible 123 strikeouts in just 80 1/3 innings of work. Peterson’s 123 strikeouts and 13.78 K’s-per-9-innings are both second-most in the state.  Sierra has five different pitchers earn saves this year, led by closer Matthew Sigafoos, who is 3-1 with 8 saves and a 3.38 ERA.


SADDLEBACK (Southern California’s No. 2 Seed)
Much like the north, the reps from Southern California also come from a baseball conference powerhouse … the Orange Empire Conference. The OEC-champion Bobcats have been missing some key components from their lineup and pitching staff, but are still finding ways to win games, as good teams are known to do. After a pair of wins over Long Beach City in the opening round of the playoffs (4-3, 18-8), Saddleback advanced through the Super Regional with a win over Glendale (11-1) and a pair of wins over El Camino (8-1, 3-0) before surviving a hard-fought series with upset-minded, 19th-seeded College of the Canyons, needed a 5-4, 10-inning win in the third-and-final game of the series to advance to this weekend’s Final Four.

Saddleback enters this weekend with the top team batting average among the four remaining teams with a .335 average, third-best in the state. With more hits than anyone in California (571) and eight of nine hitters in the Bobcat lineup hitting .290 or better (including seven hitting .320 or better), it’s a nightmare matchup for any opposing pitching staff. Sophomore Michael Davinni leads this stacked lineup with a .383 average with 79 hits, 57 runs, 5 HR and 50 RBI, while Jason Hefft (.385, 37 RBI) and Isaiah Morales (.377, 45 RBI) join Davinni in the Bobcats’ “70-hit Club”.

Saddleback’s pitching staff has the second-lowest ERA in the state at 3.56 but has relied on several throwers to get the job done. Starters Will Girardi (4-1, 4.45 ERA) and Trevor Eby (7-1, 3.10 ERA) have helped pick up some slack with the loss of ace lefty Arthur Liu (9-2, 2.99 ERA). The Bobcat relievers have been lights out in 2023, and are led by closer Blake Butcher (4-2, 6 saves, 1.37 ERA), Tyler Byrns (3-0, 1 save, 1.67 ERA) and Ryan Cullinane (4-0, 0.36 ERA).

SANTA ANA (Southern California’s No. 4 Seed)
The 2023 Santa Ana Dons have been rolling along this season, not making a ton of noise, but getting the job done. After a third-place finish in the always-crowded Orange Empire Conference, the Dons have saved their best baseball for the right time with wins in nine of their last 10 games. After a sweep over College of the Desert (2-1, 5-4), the Dons outlasted Santa Barbara (16-8) and OEC-rival Cypress (12-5, 9-10, 14-5) to make it to the Regional Finals. There, they hosted fellow conference foe, Fullerton, and won 9-5 and 12-4 to make it to Folsom Lake College.

Much like the Bobcats, the Dons have a “murderer’s row” of a lineup that ranks in the top six in the state in runs, home runs, RBI and walks. Austin Haller leads SAC with 66 hits to go along with a .338 average, 49 runs, 7 HR and 41 RBI. Eddie Pelc is close behind with 62 hits with a .341 average, 56 runs, 9 HR and 43 RBI, while Mario Tostado (.337, 9 HR, 49 RBI), Christian Thompson (.341, 58 hits, 4 HR, 28 RBI) and Troy Kent (.324, 12 HR, 46 RBI) bring depth and power to this talented lineup.

The top of the SAC rotation has been steady with the trio of Hauze Fragoso (4-0, 3.69 ERA, 62 strikeouts in 78 innings pitched), Brady Ashworth (4-4, 5.03 ERA, 47 Ks in 68 IP) and Jaxton Andeel (3-1, 4.60 ERA, 45 Ks in 58 2/3 IP) eating up most of the innings this year. Freshman righty reliever Joey Iglesias leads the Dons in appearances with 23 and is 3-1 with 4 saves and a 3.35 ERA. Fellow reliever C.J. Brown leads the team with six wins (6-3) and has a 4.89 ERA in 20 appearances, covering 53 1/3 innings.

(Tony Altobelli, CCCSIA)