Turlock National 12-year-old Joseph Pagola drilled a three-run homer over the left field wall at Julien field in Wednesday's elimination game against Los Banos to give his team a 16-4 mercy-rule win after a powerful performance that ended in the fourth inning.
“I was not nervous because if I had any hit, we had guys at third and second but luckily I hit the ball hard enough to hit it over the fence,” said Pagola. “I just tried to hit it the best I could in a timely manner and I hit it well. I felt it.”
After losing in their District 73 tournament opener in a mercy-rule decision at the hands of their crosstown opponent in the American side, the National took it to heart and went on to put on a performance that left the Los Banos side in shock.
“We started off by getting a lot of early hits and runs and that helped us out and we played great defense and hit the ball hard,” said Pagola.
In the first inning, the National team went up 10-0, highlighted by a three-run homer from Chase Gilbreth, and a two-run blast from Sergio Romo.
Christian Romero added the final run of the inning with an RBI single to give his team a double-digit lead heading into the second.
“The kids were all awake and were ready to go,” said National head coach Harpreet Singh. “They were all having fun and from the beginning they were enjoying it. They played defense and the bats were on.”
Los Banos added three runs in the second after walking in two runs and scoring on a pass ball.
The Nationals almost found themselves in a bubble with bases loaded in the second but a double play from the shortstop to home, then to first ended the threat as National starter Matt Morris, who tossed 2 2/3 innings on 50 pitches, managed to get the ground out and left the inning up 10-3.
“I was hitting my spots and throwing my curveball well and all the pitches were working. I was never really nervous at all,” said Morris.
Romo came in to relief Morris in the third inning and managed to get the strikeout on a five pitch at-bat to end the threat. He struck out four in 1 1/3 innings and helped his team hold on to a 13-4 lead going into the bottom of the fourth.
“I was nervous... actually, a lot, mainly because I didn't want to give up any runs but I thought we had a big lead so I kept on taking deep breaths and never really thought about them scoring,” said Romo. “I was just trying to throw strikes.”
Josh Leonardo led off the fourth with a walk and Morris followed up with a walk and stole second immediately, following Leonardo's lead and setting up Pagola for an opportunity to walk it off for his team.
Instead of just putting the ball in play, he leveled the first pitch he saw over the left fielder’s glove and well over the fence to end the game in a 16-4 final.
“Hits made the difference. Last game we didn't do too well hitting wise,” said Romo.