Clifford, Lopez and Young shine in summer baseball leagues

Aug. 23, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Junior outfielder Pete Clifford was a major piece to the Santa Barbara Foresters' run to the 2006 National Baseball Congress National Championship, while sophomore shortstop Matt Lopez and junior pitcher Justin Young each had a solid season in their respective summer leagues.

Lopez played with the Winter Park Wart Hogs of the Florida Collegiate Summer League (FCSL) and Young was a member of the Sanford River Rats of the FCSL. Among other Dolphins competing in summer leagues were freshman pitcher Garrett Dunlap with the Angels of the Arizona Summer Collegiate League.

Clifford, who finished fifth on the Foresters with a .335 batting average, led the squad with five triples, six home runs, 50 RBI, a .632 slugging percentage and did not commit an error in the field in 44 games. He was second with 18 doubles, while also leading the Foresters to a league-best 25-11 record in the California Collegiate League. The squad would go on to finish 50-11 overall as they defeated the Derby Twins, 8-7, in the NBC national title game on Aug. 12 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita, Kan. The NBC is made up of 21 premier leagues ranging from Alaska (Alaska Baseball League) to Virginia (Clark C. Griffith Collegiate Baseball).

"Pete was one of the staples to our team and for him to hit in the three-hole, with the talented lineup we had, tells you how good of a hitter he is," said Santa Barbara Forester head coach Bill Pintard. "He was steady for us all summer long and our hitting coach Gary Woods (who played in the majors from 1976-85) absolutely loved him. Pete has the quickest swing through the zone that I have ever come across.

"Whenever we got into a situation when we needed a big hit, the team would yell out `Fins Up' and put their hats on sideways on top of their heads. More often than not, Pete would come through every time."

Young went 1-3 with a 3.08 ERA and 38 innings pitched in seven starts for the River Rats. He led the squad with 39 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .236 batting average. At the plate, Young went 2- for-7 with two doubles and two RBI in three games. The River Rats finished with a 16-20 record on the year in the South Division.

Lopez batted .267 with 24 hits, two doubles, a home run, nine RBI and 29 total bases for the Wart Hogs. He also led the squad with a .391 on-base percentage, three sacrifice bunts and 11 stolen bases. The Wart Hogs finished with a 14-17 overall record in the South Division

Dunlap finished with a 4.50 ERA in 14 innings while also walking five batters and striking out 18 for the Angels.