The Turlock American 10-year-olds have looked different since losing in their opening contest to Los Banos in the District 73 All-Star tournament, capturing back-to-back wins in a distinguished fashion.
They followed their unfortunate defeat by winning two straight, first over Yosemite on Tuesday in a 16-2 decision then went on to roll through Mariposa in a 23-3 decision on Wednesday at Soderquist park.
“First game you never know with 10s and nerves played a big part,” said American head coach Kirk Johnson. “We stranded 10 and we just couldn’t get the big hits. The kids tried doing more than we asked of them and that is what kids do.”
Luckily that wasn’t the case in their last two games.
“I think the kids are riding it,” said Johnson. “Everyone is doing their job, putting the bat on the ball and the thing I am starting to hear is the kids’ talk, battle with strikes and helping each other, motivating each other and saying the right things, things that baseball guys should be saying.”
With such a deep roster that is filled with top tier talent at the 10 age group, the American side knew they were capable of playing consistently, but needed to prove it in an elimination game against Yosemite.
The Americans scored nine runs in the first inning to take a big lead going into the second.
“We have good players and they can hit and they did just that,” said Johnson.
A total of 17 hits were struck by the American side and Bubba Lujan was 3 for 4 with three RBI. Robert York was a perfect 3 for 3 with two RBI and Daniel Mazon was 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Hunter Arellano was 2 for 3 with an RBI and Bo Dickey was 2 for 2 with three runs scored and two RBI.
Mazon started against Yosemite and pitched two innings, not allowing a single base runner and striking out four.
Lujan went 1 1/3 with one run allowed and a pair of strikeouts. Jordan Mikkelson and York finished off the rest of the game and went a combined 2/3 innings to close it out.
“We trust our pitchers. They will keep us on but the hitting has been contagious and fun these last two games, a lot of fun,” said Johnson after his team allowed just a pair of hits against Yosemite and no errors.
The Americans kept that same intensity up and then some in their next game on Wednesday against Mariposa where the team managed to rack up 21 total hits in just four innings.
They went on to score 23 runs altogether, including a 16-run inning in the third inning behind just a lone error for the game.
Mariposa was held to just five hits and three runs.
Carson Gonzales started the game and tossed 1 1/3 shutout innings, including three strikeouts.
Lujan came in and pitched 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball after allowing no runs or walks on a single hit and struck out four. Baker finished it off and went one inning in the fourth and allowed two earned runs on four hits and struck out a pair.
“What is nice is we have plenty of catchers and plenty of baseball dudes who have stepped it up and thrown strikes and obviously hit well,” said Johnson about their performance against Mariposa.
Lujan was 2 for 2 with four runs scored and two RBI. York was 4 for 4 with three RBI and four runs scored. Gonzales was 2 for 4 with six RBI and a pair of runs scored.
Mason Baker came in from the bench and was 2 for 2 and Arellano was also 2 for 2 as a sub with an RBI. Dickey, who was also subbed in, was 3 for 3 with a couple of runs scored and Clayton Cornell was 2 for 3 with two RBI and three3 runs scored and a walk.
Mariposa committed five errors to the Americans one.
“Another thing is Yosemite and Mariposa ran out of pitching and we feasted on it. The kids had fun but hopefully we get into the weekend and our pitching stays healthy,” said Johnson. “After we scored 16 runs in one inning you can see the body language of the other team deteriorating.”