The marquee series of the PAC 8 baseball season is here.
On Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in Paso Robles, the first-place Paso Robles Bearcats (14-1 PAC 8) and the second-place Righetti Warriors (13-2 PAC 8) will begin a three-game series that will go a long way to determining the next league champion. It’s a matchup packed with studs.
Righetti’s is big right-handed pitcher and bopper Matt Sauer who has drawn scouts from all over Major League Baseball this season with his mid-90s fastball and .446 batting average.
The Arizona-commit was recently rated the No. 42 prospect for the 2017 MLB draft.
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Junior Jaden LyBurtus and senior Zach Rudd, with four home runs each, also provide power at the plate for Righetti.
But Paso Robles has a pair of aces that will make things difficult for the Righetti hitters. Sophomore Ryan Harvel is Tuesday’s likely starter and is 6-1 with a 1.45 ERA this season, while senior Nolan Binkele has a miniscule 0.46 ERA, beating out Sauer’s 1.17 ERA this season.
Paso Robles is led on offense by Dylan Lewis (.444 batting average) and catcher Mark Armstrong, who has done a little bit of everything this season for the Bearcats with a .397 batting average, 27 RBI and three home runs.
The winner of this series will have a big advantage heading into next week, the final stretch of the regular season.
SLO Baseball Streaking
Don’t look now but San Luis Obispo High baseball is on a run. After battling injuries early in the season, the Tigers have won 10 of their last 12, including six in a row, and are in a three-way tie with Atascadero and Arroyo Grande for third place with an 8-7 record in the PAC 8.
SLO High’s offense has been led by Noah Cracknell, who is batting around .400 with 9 RBI and two home runs in the past nine league games.
With the top four teams making the playoffs, one of these three teams will be left out. Atascadero and SLO High play a three game series this week, while Arroyo Grande takes on St. Joseph.
Softball Titles Up For Grabs
Things are heating up in PAC 8 softball with four games left in the regular season.
SLO High moved into a tie for first place with a thrilling 6-5 extra-innings win over Paso Robles last week thanks to the clutch hitting of Kaitlyn Sandoval. The Tigers followed it up with a win over Righetti behind Marissa Piatt’s 3-for-4, two RBI performance to make it five-straight league wins. Piatt is one of the best hitters in the PAC 8 this season and has the Tigers on an impressive streak for a team that was not expected to contend for a title this year.
Five teams — Atascadero (6-4), Righetti (6-4), Arroyo Grande (7-3), SLO High (8-2) and Paso Robles (8-2) — all have a legitimate shot at winning at least a share of the league title heading into the final two weeks. Paso Robles hosts Arroyo Grande on Tuesday and goes on the road to Atascadero on Thursday.
In the Los Padres League, Templeton (8-2 Los Padres) moved into a tie for first place with Cabrillo (8-2 Los Padres) behind another incredible performance by sophomore phenom Ashley Daugherty. The Texas A&M verbal commit gave up one hit and struck out 15 batters and Lilly Soto drove in the winning RBI in a 1-0 victory over Santa Ynez last week.
Cabrillo and Templeton will play in the game of the season in Templeton on Friday.
Arroyo Grande Tennis Clinches
After clinching another PAC 8 title with a tie-breaker win over SLO High last week, Arroyo Grande will look to complete back-to-back undefeated league seasons against Atascadero on Tuesday.
PAC 8 tennis league finals begin Thursday at SLO High and finish up with the finals Friday around 1 p.m.
Atascadero Sprinter Signs
Atascadero High sprinter Brittney McKinley signed last week to run for Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine — a school that is a 3,241-mile drive, or about a 10-hour flight, from Atascadero. McKinley is coming off a win and a personal-best 12.44 time in the 100-meter event at the SLO County Meet on April 22.
SLO Pole vaulter
Duke University’s Connor Hall, a 2013 graduate of SLO High, set a school record Saturday in the pole vault, clearing a personal best 17 feet, 3 inches at the Virginia Grand Prix in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hall is a senior at Duke and will graduate in May with a degree in environmental science.
Gymnast Qualifies for National Championships
Tia Gin, a 16-year-old Shell Beach resident and SLO High student, qualified for the 2017 Women’s Junior Olympics National Championships in Indianapolis.
Gin was one of seven gymnasts in her age group selected to compete from Region 1, which includes California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah, according to a media release from Performance Athletics. The top four in the junior and senior divisions will go on to train with the U.S. National Team and could compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.