Should Arroyo Seco win, then it would face the Vaqueros in a rematch, also Saturday at 7 p.m. on the showcase field.
“Hey, Puerto Rico is a very, very good team with players that live together in an academy and they put it to us, they hit us hard,” said Arroyo Seco Saints Coach Aaron Milam, whose team had its six-game postseason winning streak snapped. “They jumped on us, they didn’t really surprise us, they just beat us.
“We had to match their energy and we didn’t do that and hopefully we’ll do that if we get a chance to play them again.”
What Puerto Rico accomplished Friday evening was special on several fronts.
The Vaqueros’ final 16-run tally was slightly less than the Saints’ six-game total of 18 runs allowed en route to a West Zone Tournament championship.
In the second alone, Puerto Rico sent 17 batters to the plate who faced 58 pitches from two Saints pitchers in taking a 14-0 lead.
Scoring hits in the second were a three-run triple from leadoff batter Christian Padin, a three-run double from left fielder Juan Soriano and a two run-scoring single from Christopher Gonzalez with additional singles from Francisco Sanchez, Jan Cintron and Walter Vives.
Saints pitchers also didn’t help their cause with three walks, while the defense also committed an error.
It was an error that kick-started Puerto Rico’s scoring in the first.
With two outs, Vaqueros third baseman Gonzalez grounded to short and caught a break when his ball was bobbled and eventually dropped by the infielder.
Puerto Rico’s next batter, Vives, coaxed a five-pitch walk from starting pitcher DJ Milam, before he and Gonzalez both came home on a clutch two-run double from designated hitter Eduardo Jimenez.