FOLSOM, Calif. - The Santa Ana College Baseball team claimed its fourth state title in program history after going undefeated in the 2023 California Community College Athletic Association (3C2A) State Championships held over Memorial Day weekend.
The Dons (36-15) made an impressive run to come out on top in the three day, four-team tournament as they showed they could win in a multitude of ways.
On day one, the Dons passed their toughest test as they defeated Folsom Lake College (36-13) by a score of 8-7 after a five hour, 15 inning battle to advance to the winner's bracket.
Sophomore outfielder Ryann Stock played the hero with a clutch solo-shot over the left field fence in the top of the 15th inning to give Santa Ana the lead for good.
The Dons returned to the field on short rest to face-off against a familiar foe and fellow Orange Empire Conference member, Saddleback College (38-13).
Although Santa Ana started the game with a 2-0 deficit after one inning, the Dons quickly found their rhythm at the plate while their pitching held the Bobcats in check. SAC went on to win game two by a score of 13-4 to punch their ticket into Championship Monday.
With the ultimate goal in their sights on day three, the Dons wasted no time setting the tone in a rematch against a Saddleback team that fought their way into the tournament finale.
Santa Ana held the Bobcats scoreless in the first and then got back to business on offense, collecting four hits and five runs to jump out to an early lead.
The Bobcats would not go away easily as they responded with five runs over the next two innings.
But the well oiled machine that is the Dons offense continued to produce, making it virtually impossible for Saddleback to keep up. Santa Ana touched home plate 21 times and recorded 20 hits as they cruised to their final win of the season.
Sophomore outfielder Christian Thompson was named the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament after going 10-for-16 at the plate with four runs batted in over three games which included a 5-for-5 performance in the finale.
"Before the game I told myself I was going to going to go 5-for-5," said Thompson. "For that to come true and us to win this to win this just doesn't feel real."
With the win, the Dons put an end to the 27 year title drought and brought Santa Ana College Baseball back where it belongs at the forefront of California Community College baseball.
"Our group was fantastic, besides being good baseball players, they were a fun group to be around," said Head Coach Tom Nilles. "I told them when we got to the playoffs that I was extremely proud of them and like every group, we certainly had our adversity that we had to overcome but those guys played their tails off."
The Dons have a handful of sophomores that already have offers to join four year schools but are excited to bring back freshmen such as pitchers Hauze Fragoso, Jaxton Andeel and Joey Iglesias as well as everyday guys like Mikey Rocha, Jimmy De Anda and Matthew Dobson for the 2024 season.
Article pulled from SAC Dons Athletics website.