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American 11s clinch District 73 title
LL 11s pic
The Turlock American 11-year-old All-Stars won the District 73 Championship this past weekend after topping Los Banos 11-1 in the final at Soderquist Field. - photo by Photo Contributed

The Turlock American 11-year-old All-Stars powered through the District 73 bracket this past week and rolled through three games with ease, capturing a banner and a spot in this year’s 10-11 age group Sections tournament.

After dominating the National team in mercy-rule fashion to open up the tournament, the Americans met top seeded Los Banos but they weren’t fazed by the No. 1 next to the name, even if it was the only game in the tourney that went six innings.

Backed by starting pitcher Tyler Ness’ complete game, the Americans went on to win the semifinal, 15-11, setting themselves up with either Los Banos or the Turlock National for the District banner.

In a lopsided game, the Americans won the finale in an 11-1 mercy-rule victory over Los Banos.

“The kids are taking each game one by one,” said American head coach Grady Welch. “They celebrated their game on the field and are just happy for the moment that they won the District Championship and added the banner for the American league.”

The team went on to score a combined 41 runs in just 14 total innings played over three games. They allowed 14 total runs, 11 coming from their semifinal meeting.

“Everybody is producing for us, Cole Hendrix hitting the ball hard, in first game we didn’t have Kyle Erickson but he came back and helped us out from the backstop,” said Welch. “Along with Matt Leonesio and Kyle, they played catcher for us and helped a lot.”

Wednesday’s semifinal game from Soderquist was highlighted by a three-run homer from Max Welch and Ness’ complete game performance that went six innings.

Unfortunately a few mistakes cost some runs but the Americans kept composed throughout the conclusion.

“We jumped out to an early lead, score was closer than the game really was,” said Welch. “We made a few mental errors, throwing the ball around when we shouldn’t, and gave up some runs by way of errors, mental mistakes but other than that Tyler pitched a solid game and our hitting was outstanding.”

Eventually LB stood no chance in the semi as the Americans never trailed and went on to win by four runs.

Two days after their first win over Los Banos, the Americans picked up where they left off and didn’t step off the pedal as they continued their streak of scoring 10 or more runs in the tournament with a second mercy-rule win in three games.

The start for the Americans was nearly unmatchable after they went deep to begin the game in back to back at-bats.

Ness opened up the game by drilling a solo homer which then was followed by Leonesio’s home-run to make it 2-0 to begin the game.

Eventually LB stood no chance against the American team who drilled three homers in the finale and the team picked up the win via mercy-rule victory in an 11-1 decision.  

“We jumped out on them hard,” said Welch. “With the lead off in the opening inning we knocked out the pitcher from the game right away knocked the wind out after two batters.”

Leonesio started the game and pitched all four innings, allowing just a single run to cross home plate.

“An outstanding ball game from Matt,” said Welch about Leonesio. “He just mowed them down and straight fastball most of the game.”

Next for the American side will be the opening game of the Section 6 tournament, hosted by Western Little League in Stockton.

Their opening game will be against the District 67 winner at 10 a.m. July 16.