Story by Sam Federman
The dream season is complete, the Palm Springs POWER are champions of the inaugural California Premier Collegiate League season with a 30-1 record after a 11-1 demolition of the Inland Valley Bucs at Cal Poly Pomona on Sunday afternoon.
In the follow up to Saturday’s 8-1 win, the POWER put more of the same on display, with Long Beach State pitcher Julian Orozco capping off his dominant summer with the winning decision in the clinching game. Orozco struck out 9 hitters in 6 innings of 1 run ball, bringing his final statistics on the summer to a 1.36 ERA with 45 strikeouts to just 6 free passes in 33.1 innings. Orozco is bound to have a bigger role at LBSU next year, and his performances for the POWER helped ensure that.
In the third inning, the POWER bats started to churn, with the POWER patiently taking their walks and driving in runs via the sacrifice, it was 3-0 after Palm Springs’ third turn. In the 5th, the hits began to come in bunches, Jacob Mejia drove in Dalton Thomas, then Noah Blythe drove in Kohl Abrams. Michael Groves and Jason Leon also chipped in RBI to bring the POWER lead to 8-0, and the team could start to sense victory.
Mejia then tripled to drive in Nick Poss in the 6th, and was driven in by Blythe on a sac fly to bring the lead to a commanding 11-0.
Groves came out to the mound, and with the help of some excellent defense from Leon at third base, and Mark Kirkland at first, tossed two scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th as the champaign was being put on ice. Kenny “Count Your Days” Schechter closed the door with 2 strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth, and the celebration commenced after the third out.
When POWER owner Andrew Starke told the team that they’d finished with the highest winning percentage in POWER history, there was a big cheer let out by the team, as they gathered for pictures with their shiny new championship trophy, and put on their black CPCL Champions t-shirts.
As the busses revved up to take the team back to Palm Springs, manager Casey Dill told Starke, “there’s only one thing left to do, come back next year and go undefeated.”