The Turlock American Little League Red Sox are the Majors City champions after defeating the National Dodgers in a close ball game from Soderquist Park on Monday afternoon.
The Red Sox went up early by a run and never let the lead slip as the pitching and defense was on point in a near perfect performance that resulted in a 4-1 win. In the end, both were winners as they each move on to the Tournament of Champions.
“I saw their championship game and I knew they could hit so I knew pitching-wise we would have to hit the spots and keep their batters off and for the most part we did that,” said Dodgers head coach Brian Weatherbee. “We missed some pitches and they made us pay for it, but besides that we did well defensively and pitching.”
“Really the 12-year olds have been key role models as well for us in key situations. Just had a great season and cruised where we are with no struggles if any at all,” said Red Sox head coach Grady Welch. “With the pitching and bats we have, I am positive we will go deep in TOCs.”
The Red Sox only lost one game all year so far, amassing a staggering record of 20-1 after Monday's win.
“We cruised through our league,” said Welch. “It was a season that has been in the making for the last three years. I drafted four of my five 12 year olds three years ago with this year in mind.”
Luckily it finally panned out and the Red Sox boast a herd of stars that include 12-year-olds Tyler Ness and Cole Hendrix leading the way.
Ness was strong once again in Monday’s City title game, on the mound and from the plate.
He picked up where the offense left off with a solo home run to dead center off Dodger starter Josh Weatherbee to lead off the top of the third and go ahead 2-0.
Ness also pitched 3 and 2/3 innings, allowing just one unearned run on a pass ball.
“I feel you will be writing about him when he is in high school for sure,” said Welch of Ness. “He is the most natural and hardest working — the best work ethic I have ever coached in 10 years. As a 12-year-old, very impressive.”
Dodgers missed some opportunities including the bottom of the third, where they had bases loaded with one out but only scored the one run after a Red Sox miscue.
Ness struck out the next two to end the threat.
Kyle Ericksen of the Red Sox then drilled an RBI sac-fly to left field to make it 3-1 and Hendrix ended the rally with a line drive RBI single that hit the center field wall and extended the lead to 4-1.
“When we needed hits, we got the hits and have had solid pitching. We have six starters potentially and two others that could pitch on any other team, but this team is so talented,” said Welch.
The Dodgers ended the year with a 23-3 record heading into the TOC.
“I am happy we were competitive and represented our league well,” Weatherbee added. “Unfortunately, we lost our leadoff hitter with a broken foot earlier this week, so we have kids looking to step up, we need to pitch and get the timely hits, if we do that, we will be there with everybody.”
Both the Dodgers and Red Sox advance to the Tournament of Champions with their first games scheduled for Saturday with opponents and times yet to be determined by publication time.