While the paper picked Santa Fe to win the Del Rio League crown this year, the Whittier Cardinals weren’t on our radar.
And yet, both teams do battle today at 3:15 p.m. at Whittier for the right to be in sole possession of first place in the league standings at the 1/3 point of the season.
Santa Fe (5-5, 4-0) at Whittier (7-3, 4-0), 3:15 p.m.
Santa Fe’s Marcos Casillas
Why Santa Fe looks good: The Chiefs are back to .500 and have shown the endurance of a champion, overcoming the loss of Del Rio League MVP Jesus Cuevas and the pitching services of Justin Rincon. The Chiefs have developed a penchant for winning closes games (they’re 3-1 in one-run ball games) and they are led by two strong starting arms in Marcos Casillas (2-1, 1.26 ERA) and Gael Esparza (1-3, 3.32 ERA).
Santa Fe’s Bryce Brooks
What troubles Santa Fe: The Chiefs need to hit better. Santa Fe is batting .274 as a team has only scored 31 runs in 10 games or 3.1 runs per game.
Whittier’s Jacob Collazo
Why Whittier looks good: The Cardinals enter with the momentum of a freight train and have registered impressive wins in league over California (11-2 score) and Pioneer (11-0). While the Cardinals are only batting .307 as a team, they’re scoring a lot more runs than the Chiefs, having plated 71 runs in 10 games, or almost twice as many runs as the Chiefs. The Cardinals also boast the league’s premiere slugger as of now in senior first baseman Jacob Collazo, who crushed five homers this year, four of which have come during league play.
Whittier first baseman Jacob Collazo (#21) tags out Pioneer’s Jonathan Hernandez (#18)
What troubles Whitter: Inexperience. When was the last time Whittier had a chance to lead the league at the 1/3 point? While Santa Fe isn’t that much more experienced than Whittier, the Chiefs built expectations for a league title this year off a second-place finish last season. Not even Cardinals coach Eric Ramirez expected his team to be doing this well this fast. It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals react if they trail late. So far, Whittier hasn’t trailed any team in league past the fifth inning.