Scrappiness, one powerful swing lead to big victory

PASADENA, CA- It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but the Arroyo Seco Saints (5-2) put in a great effort from start to finish beat the San Diego SunRays (2-6) 11-4 at Jackie Robinson Field Wednesday night.  

The Saints found themselves in a 1-0 hole after the top of the first, but didn’t let the deficit last long. Cam Conley (Pepperdine) and Nick Lazzara (Trinity) set the table with singles, and after a walk to Ryan Scott (Incarnate Word), Adrian Lopez (USC) knocked in Conley with an infield single. The next batter, Alex Birge (UC Berkeley) picked up an RBI on a fielder’s choice and at the end of the inning, the Saints led 2-1.  

The SunRays threatened in the top of the second against Saints’ starter Giovanni Sambito (Air Force), loading the bases with two outs. But, as he has done often in the early season, Sambito shined in the high leverage situation, getting a strikeout to escape the jam. 

The Saints were also held scoreless and it was still 2-1 heading into the third.  

In the top of the third, the SunRays picked up a run on a booming RBI double, the loudest contact of the early evening. But Sambito kept the damage to 1. After a scoreless bottom of the third from the Saints, the score was knotted at 2.  

Sambito pitched his cleanest inning of the night in the fourth, setting the SunRays down 1-2-3 to give the Saints a good opportunity to regain the lead. They did just that. Lopez scampered home on an error to give the Saints a 3-2 lead.  

And an inning later, they’d add on to that lead. Well, “add on” is an understatement. The Saints exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the fifth on only two hits. Patience and opportunism were the themes for the Saints once again as they scored runs every which way, on bases loaded walks, errors, passed balls.  

Also importantly, one of those two hits turned out to be a huge one, a three-run homer to right-center field by Jakob Schardt (Fullerton). The first Saints home run at their cavernous home Jackie Robinson Field this season traveled 389 feet and capped off the seven-run rally to make it 10-2 Saints.  

The booming homer was a flashy moment, but it came out of Schardt’s modest approach to the at-bat.  

“I was mainly just trying to get a hit honestly, put the ball in play,” Schardt said.  

Schardt has seen a lot of success since switching into the leadoff spot in the batting order for the Saints, and a lot of it has come out of that same approach.  

“I’m not looking to drive the ball far anymore when I’m leading off, I’m just literally trying to help the team and get on base any way,” Schardt said.  

All in all, it turned out to be a solid outing for Sambito, who was in line for the win after five innings of two-run ball. It wasn’t always pretty; the righty allowed nine SunRays to reach base in his five innings. But, helped by six strikeouts, most of those runners were stranded on base.  

Not bad for what Sambito said was his first start since high school. And, he enjoyed every moment of it.  

“I had a blast out there,” Sambito said. “Threw 94 pitches when I probably haven’t had an outing over 40 in the past year. I’ll be sore tomorrow, but I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of how much fun I had playing back in high school.”  

Ahmad Harajli (Miami Ohio) took over for Sambito on the mound in the sixth and continued to shut down the SunRays. The Saints then added a tally in the sixth on a passed ball to make it 11-2.  

Harajli had a bit more trouble in his second inning of work in the seventh, balking home a run. But in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter, as he got out of it giving up no further scores and despite going scoreless at bat the Saints still held a comfortable 11-3 lead after seven.  

Kobe Minchey (Dallas Baptist) got the Saints through the top of the eighth on mainly his own efforts, recording two strikeouts and fielding a comebacker to have a hand in all three outs in the frame. The Saints threatened to extend their lead in the bottom of the eighth but did not score.  

The SunRays added one final run in the ninth, but it was nowhere near enough to overcome the Saints’ double-digit day and the home team came away with the 11-4 victory.  

For the Saints, it’s a weird kind of win where they scored a lot, but not because the offense was especially impressive. They put up more runs (11) than they had hits on the night (9). But, being able to score in many ways is a sign of a well-rounded baseball team.  

“It seemed like we weren’t as hot as we were for other games with hitting,” Schardt said. “But we still put up a lot of runs which was crazy. It felt effortless as a team.”  

The Saints will need more timely offense when they take on the Barons Friday night, back at Jackie Robinson field at 6:05 PM.  


  • Saints reporter Ethan Inman (USC)
  • Saints photographer Elijah Hickman (Cal Baptist)





Aaron Milam | (626) 695-6903 |
Nick Gorman | (805) 252-7954 |

© 2018 Arroyo Seco Saints

Website by microbrand-logo