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American 11s bats come alive in sixth to secure District title
LL 11s pic1
Turlock American 11-year-old All Star Cole Pacheco rounds third base after hitting a three-run homer in the sixth inning of Sundays District 73 Championship game. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

Turlock’s 11-year-old American All Stars are the 2014 District 73 champions.

When it was all said and done, the Turlock American 11s booted Los Banos, 8-1, in the District 73 finale at Osborne Field on Sunday to take the title.

“It’s unreal what these kids have done all year. It’s just how hard they have all worked, they’re a great group of kids and coachable, they all listen,” said Turlock American head coach Grady Welch.

The team has certainly been working and scraping away at close games, especially considering the last time they faced Los Banos was in the first round of the tournament, where the American side beat Los Banos by only one run, 6-5.

Once more, this proved to be another close game between the two.

The stalemate lasted five innings before the Americans scored seven runs in the sixth, taking complete control of the game with only three outs.  

“It was a tight game all the way through till the sixth inning,” said Welch. “It was intense, it was tight until the fifth, it was a pitching duel on both sides but Pacheco pitched a great game for us all the way through.”

Cole Pacheco started the game for the Turlock Americans on the mound as he tossed up four and 1/3 innings, recording five strikeouts and gave up no runs.

Andrew Foley scored the first run for the Americans in the top of the fifth and Los Banos retaliated with their own after an unearned score came in the bottom of the fifth.

The spark occurred on the first at-bat when Turlock’s Jacob Carlos led off with a walk, but the real game changer happened when starting pitcher Pacheco knocked a three-run homer to put his team up 6-1, by that point any hope of a Los Banos comeback was diminished.

“It was a big inning for us,” Welch said. “Cole pitched a helluva game and when he hit the homerun it knocked Los Banos completely out of the game and took their wind away from them.”

Devan Arroyo tossed a shutout inning in the sixth to close it out for the Americans, but it was Owen Coelho who made the game-ending double play after catching a pop out and making a throw to first base, catching the Los Banos base runner slipping.

The Turlock American 11s will now move on to the Section tournament with their first game set for Saturday at Tracy American Little League with an opponent yet to be named.