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There have been times when people have said, accurately, that numbers lie.

When it comes to Matt Sauer's 2017 baseball numbers in his senior year at Righetti, the numbers don't lie.

A 0.98 ERA; a .427 batting average, tops among Righetti's regulars; 50 base hits, easily the most on the team; 42 strikeouts and just 31 walks in 78 1/3 innings pitched; a 9-1 season record; a grand total of 42 hits allowed, with all of eight of those (one triple, no home runs among them) for extra bases.

Oh yes, he was also third on the team in RBIs, with 24, while hitting in the second spot, not exactly the spot in the lineup that's usually conducive to getting a lot of RBIs.

All of those numbers added up to Sauer's being a unanimous choice among the Lee Central Coast Newspapers sports staff as the 2017 LCCN All-Area Baseball Team MVP.

After Sauer, a member of the All-CIF Southern Section Division 3 Baseball Team whose fastball regularly reaches 90-plus mph, helped pitch and hit Righetti to the Division 3 championship game (Walnut defeated the Warriors 13-2 for the title), the New York Yankees picked Sauer in the second round of the Major League Baseball Draft.

At press time, Sauer was set to pitch for Tampa, the Yankees' Advanced-A Minor League affiliate.

"I flew in to Tampa Bay (Monday)," Sauer said by phone earlier this week.

"My family's going to fly in. I hope to sign the contract Thursday and be ready to go on Friday."

Was Sauer a Yankees' fan growing up? Well, no.

"I was an Angels fan growing up," he said with a chuckle. "I didn't follow the Yankees too much." 

The Yankees tabbed Sauer with the 54th overall pick in the draft. They awarded him a $2.5-million signing bonus, more than twice the minimum allowed for a 54th overall pick.

Before all that, Sauer finished a distinguished four-year varsity career at Righetti.

"I've coached at Righetti for 13 years, and he's as good as anybody I've ever had here," Righetti baseball coach Brian Tomooka said recently.

Beyond that, Tomooka said in effect that Sauer gave his team everything he could have as the attention level on him ramped way, way up.

During his senior year major league scouts, with radar guns at the ready, turned out en masse at Righetti home games when Sauer was pitching.

"With his leadership skills throughout the season, with all the attention he was getting, his main focus was on helping Righetti win baseball games," said Tomooka.

"This past season was a lot of fun," said Sauer. "I've played baseball with a lot of the guys on the team since Little League. They're my best friends."

Tomooka said, "If you look at what an MVP is — he's a guy that you want in there with the game on the line. Not only with what he did on the mound, he had a high batting average and played so many positions for us."

Sauer did indeed deliver during the most important time, the playoffs.

He pitched a complete game as Righetti edged Culver City 2-1 in the first round. He did struggle some in Righetti's second-round game but still, he was solid, pitching three-plus innings in a 3-2 win at Covina Charter Oak.

At second base, Sauer grabbed a ground ball and threw to first for the last out, choking off a last-ditch Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula rally as the Warriors put away a 7-4 win in the quarterfinals.

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Then there was the semifinal game at Lancaster Paraclete.

No one should be surprised if Paraclete right-hander Joey Estes winds up being a major league draft pick himself. The sophomore went into the Division 3 semifinals having given up a grand total of three earned runs in 80 innings.

He was matched against Sauer, and he didn't give Sauer much margin for error. Sauer responded with a three-hit shutout, capping his complete game with the last two of his 10 strikeouts.

Righetti shortstop Zach Rudd singled in the only run of the game in the Warriors' 1-0 win. Sauer, having pitched far more post-season innings than anyone else on the staff, did not pitch in the divisional championship game.

Pitcher and second base were not the only positions Sauer played last season.

"Because of injuries, he had to move to first base for a time," said Tomooka. "Not once did he complain about being moved all over the place.

"His versatility really impressed the coaches."

Tomooka sounded sure that Sauer can succeed at the major league level.

"He has a great fastball, a great slider, he'll develop his changeup more. He's so coachable, so ready to learn," the veteran Righetti coach said.

"I think he's just going to get better and better. He's going to do some great things."