Past the midway point of July and with a week and a half left in the regular season, the Orange County Riptide sit five games back from first in the California Collegiate League (CCL) South division. Orange County owns a 17-13 record through 30 games and a 9-11 conference record, operating just above the .500 mark for most of the summer after going 12-8 through their first 20.
Over their last 10 games spanning from July seventh to the 21st, the Riptide enjoyed a three-game win streak, celebrated all-star festivities with the CCL Showcase Game televised by Bally Sports West, and had three players from the this year’s squad selected in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Back on July 7th, the Riptide beat the Conejo Oaks 9-0 at the OC Great Park for their third shut-out of the summer behind a brilliant starting outing from Tony Robie (Texas St.). The right-hander went seven scoreless innings in his seventh appearance of the year and only allowed four men to reach base while punching out an even 10 batters.
“Tony’s probably been our Number one guy all summer, competing-wise,” said head coach Mitch LeVier. “He wants to start, he wants to close. He’s been very reliable on the mound for us in all situations.”
Orange County then struggled over the next few days with three straight losses; two on the road, and one at home. The Riptide suffered a close 7-6 loss on July 8th to the San Luis Obispo Blues on the road, and then came home to lose 14-12 to the MLB Youth Academy Barons. The third straight loss came in Santa Barbara, a 15-9 loss to the Foresters.
The Riptide came back to win 10-8 in Compton, Calif. against the Barons on July 11th to go into the CCL Showcase Game break on a good note. Austin Kryszczuk (UNLV), Reed Spenrath (TCU), and Cody Dreis (Washington St.) carried the offense to its tenth game of the season with at least 10 runs scored. The three went a combined 7-for-14 at the plate with eight RBIs, three walks, and only one strikeout in the win.
Over the team’s three-day break, the CCL Showcase Game took place at the MLB Youth Academy with four Riptide players making appearances. Kyle Booker (Tennessee) made a case as the top performer of the day as the only member of either the North or South teams to log more than one RBI. Booker became one of two North/South hitters with multiple hits and the only South all-star to start and finish the game. Booker also logged a 2-for-4 night with a pair of RBI that came on a double.
Andrew Pogue (Illinois) became the first Riptide pitcher to see action in the game, tossing a scoreless second inning. Tony Robie (Texas St.) faced four men in his scoreless fifth inning of work. Davis Diaz (Vanderbilt) and Dwight Allen (Georgia) represented the other two Riptide all-stars but didn’t record any hits. Both Allen and Diaz reached base with walks.
The 2021 MLB Draft also came and went over the Showcase break from July 11-13. Three Riptide players were selected on the third day in rounds 11-20 including SS/2B Davis Diaz (12th Round #348 overall to Arizona Diamondbacks), 1B/OF Jack Thomas-Wold (12th Round #352 overall to New York Mets), and P Noah Owen (14th Round #425 overall to Chicago White Sox). Both Wold and Owen left Orange County thereafter to begin their professional careers. Diaz returned to the Riptide after the draft and has not signed a professional contract yet. With Diaz continuing to play for the Riptide, many expect Diaz to stick to his Vanderbilt commitment and arrive on campus in the fall.
In their next five games coming out of the break, the Riptide went 3-2 to round up their recent stretch of 10 games with a 5-5 record. Over those five games, Diaz (Vanderbilt) went 6-for-15 with four RBI and drew five walks as he extended a hit streak that currently stands at eight games. In addition to his hit streak, Diaz holds an 18-game streak of reaching base safely.
TC Simmons (UConn) went 5-for-12 over the 10 game stretch and brought home three men with a three-run home run in July 16’s win over the Conejo Oaks. On the mound, Charez Butcher tossed his best outing of the summer on July 20th vs. the Blues and earned the win for his five innings of work with one hit allowed and five punch-outs.
Orange County (17-13) will try to find some identity as visitors with six of the remaining nine regular-season games coming on the road starting Thursday night at the Conejo Oaks. LeVier said that the team has gotten better at competing on the road recently, and that’s just what they have to do over this last week and a half.
“I think the guys have gotten a little more used to traveling and all that stuff (with the recent trips to San Luis Obispo),” said LeVier. “It’s just one of those things where you gotta go on the road and compete. I think physically everybody’s good and ready to.”
Back-to-back home games come on July 28th and 30th at 6 p.m. with an off-day scheduled for the 29th. The Riptide’s regular season finale comes on August 1st at 4:30 p.m at the OC Great Park.
All Riptide home games can be live-streamed on the OC Riptide Youtube Channel.