The American League Rivercats won the Minors division Tournament of Champions for the first time after defeating the Atwater Angels, 3-2, on Saturday in a tight ball game at Julien Field.
The ‘Cats are 34-3 dating back to last season and are 19-1 in their last 20 games. The win not only marked their first title, it also marked the first time that a Turlock American minor team has made it to the finals in over a decade.
“The season was awesome and the boys showed up every day at practice and worked their tails off,” head coach Corey Rodriguez said. “It was totally a team effort and everyone chipped in.”
The ‘Cats pitching was lights out throughout the postseason as they allowed only seven hits in six games. Dominic Rodriguez started Saturday’s game and pitched 2 and 2/3 innings and struck out six. Nick Criscione finished from the hill and tossed 3 and 1/3 innings and struck out five as both allowed only three hits all game.
“We felt pretty good out there. And I had a lot of fun,” Dominic Rodriguez said. “The important thing about the game is having fun and playing baseball. Going out there and giving it 150 percent effort every time.”
“Going to practice every day with the teams helps me improve more and more, “Criscione said. “And I just feel like I was born to play baseball when I am out there.”
The Atwater Angels struck first with two runs in two innings, one in the first and the other in the second. Those were the Angels only runs for the rest of the ball game, though, as the ‘Cats responded with three unanswered runs.
Zach Mayol hit a two-run double to drive in Jack Gilfillan and Luke Appleby in the bottom of the third to tie it at two apiece. The game winner was scored in the bottom of the fourth after Logan Bankson hit an RBI single to score Kaden Peterson.
“I think we played good, our fielding was outstanding and hitting was good too,” Peterson said. “I wanted to get an in the park home run but I could not but I felt good at third and thought about getting the triple. It’s one of the best teams I have ever been on and we have great team chemistry.”