The 2014 American Little League Major winners—the Tigers—are now 2-0 in the Tournament of Champions heading into Friday’s possible finale against Los Banos, after winning back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday at Julien Field.
On Tuesday, the Tigers met the always tough Atwater Reds and it came down to the final out as closer Jake Abrams was able to strike out three in the final contest to secure the 6-5 win.
In Wednesday’s game against the Yosemite Reds, the offense and defense were on point as the game ended after the fifth inning due to the 10-run mercy rule victory by a score of 10-0.
“They exhausted every last bit of little league that they could this year in their final season. It’s pretty cool, I am very proud of all of our guys, very proud and the coaching staff we all work well together,” Tigers head coach Steve Abrams said.
The Tigers are in a double-elimination set tourney, which means they will have the opportunity to play two more contests whether they win or lose on Friday.
In the game against Atwater to open up the tournament, the Tigers’ Markie Delgadillo would start and pick up the win after tossing up 4 and 2/3 innings with 70 pitches to show for it.
Silas Fredeen would come in to close out the fifth inning followed by Jake Abrams’ impressive stint in the final inning to strike out three of the final four batters he faced with his team leading by just one run in a save opportunity.
“We were fortunate to win the first one. Atwater was really good, their pitcher kept us off balance and he pitched hard, but I praise our plate appearance. We fought like crazy with great plate appearances and getting deep in counts and we did a great job on both sides,” Abrams said.
Against the Yosemite Reds, the Tigers jumped out to an 8-0 lead with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.
Matthew Govea would jam a hard single, which was followed by a Delgadillo RBI double to make it 9-0.
At this point, one more run would end the contest by the mercy-rule and it was Jake Abrams who was able to drill the game ending RBI double to deep center field and send his team into the final.
“We made good defensive plays and really had three pitchers that stepped it up and did well and for Jake to end with three strikeouts that’s pretty special. I am proud of our closer. Also Markie did a great job,” Abrams said when asked about Tuesday’s close game.
In game two Howie Skinner started for the Tigers and would be followed by Tyler Garcia and Govea,each of whom pitched over one shutout inning.
With such a sound game, the Tigers, who have eight 12-year-olds, each did their part as the team was making smart decisions on the plate, defense and on the mound to capture the shutout win against the Reds of Yosemite after just five innings.
“Overall very balanced, everybody played well. It was a good game, I think just overall our 12-year-olds are showing their dominance and they are definitely leading. They are going out with a bang, they want to play till the end. It was a good team win,” said Abrams.
The Tigers next game will be at Los Banos at 6 p.m. Friday.