The Section 6 title run for the Turlock American Little League 10-year-old All Stars was a memorable one that head coach Andy Walker will never forget.
Things kicked off on Saturday morning from Howard Park in Ione where they toppled Amador County East in their first game, then followed that up with a one-run loss to the runners-up Tracy American.
This loss set them up in the losers’ bracket and with an elimination game on the line less than 24 hours later against ACE.
They came out on top 8-6 to earn the spot in the finale on Tuesday where they won 16-1 over Tracy American and followed that up with a 13-0 shutout to earn the banner on Wednesday in a day where temperatures soared past 105 degrees up in the foothills.
“More obstacles than just baseball sometimes, lizards in our dugout, holes from all the rattlesnakes, and it was pretty entertaining,” said Walker. “We just kind of took a different approach and I told the kids there was no pressure on us, but I knew there was I just told them they had to beat us and I wanted them to go in relaxed and have fun. And kids when they relax, they play great baseball and they went out and had fun and did their best.”
They kicked off tournament play on Saturday at noon, taking on ACE in what resulted in a wild game that saw a total of 20 runs scored.
In that game Turlock rallied with a four-run inning in the second and pulled away for good.
They came back to add six runs in the fourth inning.
A total of seven different players had at least a hit for the game as they came out on top 14-6.
Following their first-round victory, Turlock went on to face Tracy American on Sunday in the second round.
Despite a tough contest, Turlock fell in a close 3-2 ball game that dropped them in the losers’ bracket.
They then played on Monday against ACE for a second time as they won 8-6 after being down 6-4 going into the sixth and final inning, mounting a wild comeback.
On the brink of elimination, Turlock gave all they could.
It took less than two innings for ACE to add all six runs.
From there it was an uphill battle for Turlock to create any sort of comeback.
Turlock finished the game with 10 total hits combined from six different players.
Down by two with just three outs left, Turlock made it memorable as they rallied.
“We had some big at-bats with the line moving and a lot of guys contributed to get four runs to cross the plate in the last inning was big,” said Walker. “We called them together and told them they had a chance to do something fun and memorable, and all we can ask for was the moment and embrace it and the pressure was on the other team to get us out.”
Nolan Walker knocked in two runs and Winston York drove in two with both tallying four RBI in the sixth inning alone.
“We had the top of our lineup and knew we could get things started, hit-by-pitch, and some big hits as well that drove us in,” said Walker. “It’s been a team effort, lot of guys that contributed, Bryce McDaniel, Nolan Walker good pitching outings, but there’s a lot of guys that contributed with the bat and played pretty good defense for the most part. I would say a team effort more than anything.”
The win catapulted them to the Section 6 Championship game on Tuesday in a rematch with Tracy American.
Heading into the Section 6 finale on Tuesday, Turlock had to win — twice.
They squared off against the only team that had previously beaten them during the tourney run in Tracy American and managed to avenge their loss, twice.
First in Tuesday’s elimination game that saw Turlock dominate, 16-1.
This win was followed with Wednesday’s winner-take-all final.
Turlock cruised out with a 13-0 shutout over Tracy American to secure the banner.
This is the second Section 6 banner for Turlock American Little League after the 12-year-olds captured the same banner on Tuesday from Julien Field.
“They did a great job and bounced back and won three games in a row,” said Walker. “…I’m proud of them, how they came together, the weather and everything… pretty significant accomplishment, pretty remarkable for those little guys.”
Turlock advances to the Nor-Cal/State tournament and will kick off play against the Section 5 champions from Palo Alto Little League at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“We were just more than anything proud of them, to take 13 of these 10-year-olds and grow and gel in a short period of time, it’s what it’s all about,” Walker added