At the midway point through the season, the Sunset Baseball League is as competitive as any league across the nation.
Only 1.5 games separates the three teams in the South.
The Solana Beach Cardinals have a narrow 0.5 game lead in the division at 8-5. Kit Larson has been the ace of the staff, and one of the aces of the league. The NC State senior-to-be has a microscopic 1.12 ERA, while only allowing two earned runs in his three league starts. Fellow SBL all-star Cole Mueller (UCSB) has led the way offensively with a .435 BA. Solana Beach will open the second half of the season with a highly anticipated two-game series against the North Division leading Signal Hill Oilers. The teams will meet at Long Beach City College for a 5 p.m. game on Friday followed by a 1 p.m. game on Saturday at Torrey Pines High School.
The Orange County Surf are only 0.5 games back in the south. Former SBL player of the week Luke Hussung (Concordia) has been crushing the competition. Hussung is hitting at an incredible .451 clip and leads the league with hits (32), runs scored (17), RBI (16) and stolen bases (11). Payton Lobdell (Hope International) has excelled on the mound. Lobdell has a 1.40 ERA in 25.2 IP with 17 strikeout victims. His most impressive performance was the complete game shutout he twirled in Santa Barbara against the Foresters. The Surf's next league game won't be until July 10 when they play a doubleheader against the South Bay Sliders.
The Inland Valley Pirates are just 1.5 games back after a rough finish to the first half of the season getting swept in doubleheaders by the Cardinals and Oilers on consecutive days. All-stars Brennan McKenzie (Cal Poly Pomona) and Landon Marshall (Panola College) have been the two big bats for the Pirates. McKenzie has a .353 BA, while Marshall is hitting .341. Breion Barron (San Bernardino Valley) has done double duties with two home runs on the season and also leading the pitching staff with 19 strikeouts in just 15 innings of work. Inland Valley plays the South Bay Sliders in a two-game set on Friday and Saturday.
In the north, the Oilers sit atop the standings. Reese Berberet (Long Beach City) leads the team with a .385 BA and 8 RBI. All-star Joey Loranger (Cypress) has been the horse on the mound tossing 21 innings with 17 strikeouts.
The Arroyo Seco Saints are second in the division. Max Warren (Kenyon) leads the team with a .400 batting average. Brandon Louie (Claremont McKenna) has 10 strikeouts in 11 innings and has earned two victories.
The South Bay Sliders are in third, but only sit three games back of the final playoff spot. Reese Alexiades (Pepperdine) boasts a .327 BA. Charles Carr (Grinell) has been the ace pitching 27.1 IP with 16 strikeouts and a 2.30 ERA. Carr's best game came against the Humboldt Crabs when he earned the victory tossing 8.1 innings, striking out seven and only allowing one earned run.