The Turlock American and Turlock National squads faced off in an elimination game for the 10-year-old District 73 All-Star tournament on Thursday night at Soderquist Field and the game proved to be a tight thriller until the closing innings.
After exchanging runs back and forth in the first three innings, the score read 2-2 heading into the fourth but a four-run surge in the bottom of the fifth gave the American side a solid cushion. However, the Nationals didn't go down without a fight.
With bases loaded in the top of the sixth and the go-ahead run at home with one out for the Nationals, American pitcher Robert York was in a tough situation but managed to get a strikeout for the second out and a groundout to third for the final out.
“Walking the bases loaded is not great, but Robert has been in big situations all season long,” said American head coach Kirk Johnson. “He is just 10 and had nerves but when it came down to it, he buckled down and made great throws and we had the defense behind him as well.”
“It was a very close game. Back and forth and my kids came in and fought hard and represented this team the best they could and never gave up,” said National head coach Jeff Naranja. “They had big hearts throughout the tourney and I have nothing but love and respect for these kids.”
With the win, the American 10s become the third American All-Star team to reach the District 73 Championship this season with the 12s winning on Wednesday and the 11s capturing the title a week prior.
The Nationals finished with seven hits and the Americans tallied 10 for the game.
The Americans' Daniel Mazon was 3 for 4 with two RBI and Clayton Cornell was 2 for 3. Jordan Mikkelson was 1 for 1 with two RBI on a homerun. Andrew Johnson was 1 for 1 with an RBI and York was 1 for 3 with an RBI.
Mazon also started and tossed 1 1/3 innings and allowed two hits and a run and finished with two strikeouts and two walks.
National starter Nicholas Simmons stole the spotlight while on the mound for his side after pitching 4 2/3 innings, allowing just four earned runs on nine hits and finished with 80 pitches.
Owen Miller came in for Simmons in the fifth inning and managed to allow just a hit on 1/3 innings.
Miller was also the only member on the Nationals team with multiple hits for the game after going 3 for 4 with an RBI.
Simmons, Mason Duarte, Dominic Maldonado and Anthony Gallardo each had a hit for the Nationals.
Already with a heavy rotation, the Americans had the luxury of going into their bullpen early and used four pitchers in six innings of work.
Aside from Mazon, Brandon Lujan pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowed one run on four hits and struck out three. Carson Gonzalez tossed 1 2/3 innings and allowed just one run, two walks and struck out three.
York finished it off with 1 1/3 innings, allowed just a run on a single hit, walked three and struck out two.
Thankfully for the Americans, all pitchers will be available for Saturday's elimination game against Los Banos.
“We play Saturday and if we win we have to play Sunday,” said Johnson of the circumstances with playing from the loser's bracket. “They know the circumstances and we need to be careful with our pitchers on Saturday, but the name of the game is hitting, and we need to hit.”
“Our kids worked their butts off all season and practiced in triple digit weather which is big because there are adults who can't do that and they did their best,” said Naranja. “They always came out with a happy face and always gave me all they could when out on the field."