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Babe Ruth moves on to title game
Former Denair High star Ernie Delgadillo catches during Modesto Babe Ruth’s game against the Modesto Astros. Delgadillo came in as the backup catcher. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal
MODESTO — Bobby Swedberg, the coach of the Modesto Babe Ruth 16-18 year-old baseball team, gathered his players in a huddle before the top of the third inning. He didn’t like what he was seeing so far. He challenged them to be better.
So, Austin Keaton — one of three former Pitman High stars on the roster — stepped up to the plate, and smashed an RBI double to center field. That was the beginning of the onslaught.
And it all started with a pep talk from Swedberg, also a Pitman assistant who loved the fact that his team responded with a 19-1 win in just five innings over the Modesto Astros in the semifinal game of the Central California State Tournament at Davis Park in Modesto on Monday night. That means Modesto — which boasts a number of Turlock area players — moves on.
The players and coaches will face the winner of the Astros-Hanford game that was held late Tuesday.
Modesto’s championship game is at 5 p.m. today.
All season, the Modesto players (25-2) have been playing with huge targets on their backs, considering they went to the World Series title game last season. Every team wants to be the spoiler. The Astros definitely wanted to play that role, and not only because they’re Modesto’s cross-town rivals.
In an early Saturday morning game this season, the Astros shocked Modesto, and won. That loss was on the Modesto players’ minds Monday night, especially when things weren’t going their way in the first two innings — highlighted by the fact the team had no hits.
And Swedberg let them know.
“They were settling for cheap at-bats,” said the 25-year-old coach. “They weren’t patient with the pitchers, so we had to make adjustments. These are grown men, so I give them my piece of advice — to point it out to them. Today was a good day, the boys knew what was at stake.”
Modesto, the defending state champion who has already qualified for the Pacific Southwest Regional, didn’t want to go down to the losers’ bracket in the double-elimination tournament.
So the players became more aggressive with their swings in the third inning, supplying nine runs on seven hits and two errors. They added a run in the following frame before supplying nine more runs in the fifth on four hits and one error.
“Sometimes, all it takes is that one hit,” said former Turlock Christian player Eli Davis, who was responsible for plenty of offensive output. He went 1-for-3 with three runs and two walks.
Keaton finished 2-for-3 with one run, a double and four RBIs. Hunter Adrian had three hits with one run and five RBIs. Recent Denair High graduate Dylan Werner relieved in the final inning for Martine Gomez, who completed four innings with two strikeouts, four walks, one run and two hits.
“As long as we get back to basics and play fundamental ball — not making too many mistakes and swinging our bats well — good things will happen,” Davis said.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.