Tyler Ness and his Turlock American 12-year-old squad looked nearly flawless in Friday’s opening round game of the District 73 Little League All-Star tournament from Julien field after hosting Los Banos.
Ness tossed 3 and 2/3 innings of shutout ball while teammate Sean Clark leveled a pair of homeruns behind an offense that racked up double digit runs in just three innings as they toppled LB in a 10-0 mercy-rule final.
The All Star victory was the first Little League game for coach Kenny Leonesio. The head coach of the Stanislaus State baseball team stepped in for the American 12s and said “it’s refreshing working with them.”
“They are eager to learn, they want to hit and take groundballs and it’s kind of amazing, they never really leave practice,” said Leonesio.
The commitment from the squad is unique and they showcased their hard work on Friday from the onset.
The American side wasted no time to get on the board going up 3-0 after the first inning, which was headlined by a Clark two-run homer over the center field fence.
Turlock added a run in the bottom of the second after Matthew Leonesio drilled an RBI double to make it 4-0.
“I think we can swing the bat and our entire lineup can, but unfortunately we didn’t get all of our guys to play because of the 10-run rule,” said Leonesio. “But I feel good about those guys playing and I think all 13 can hit, which makes it difficult for me to start nine in the lineup, and it’s tough to get us out.”
The next inning sealed the deal while Ness continued to deal from the mound after three shutout innings.
From the second till the fourth, when he came out with two outs, Ness struck out seven of eight batters faced.
“He did a great job, the moment is never too big for him and you can tell,” said Leonesio of Ness. “He is very relaxed and threw so well and the big thing is throw strikes and locate when you need to.”
In the bottom half of the third, Turlock went on a six-run rally that started with a Clark two-run shot on the first pitch he saw, drilling it to the opposite field and over the wall to extend the lead to 6-0.
A pass ball allowed the seventh run to cross home and Ness followed with an RBI triple to make it 8-0.
Kyle Ericksen ended the rally with a two-run double that extended the lead to 10-0, putting the game out of reach.
Ness struck out the first two batters faced in the start of the fourth and Matt Leonesio came in for the final out and ended with a four-pitch strikeout to end the game.
“I definitely think we have depth, and all these kids can hit, and they have all pitched throughout the year for their team,” said Leonesio. “I don’t know if we have a No. 1 but we have guys who can throw strikes, and I am happy, we feel good about pitching as well right.”
The Turlock American squad will next take on Yosemite from Julien at 4 p.m. today.
“I think we will go out and have same intensity and guys will play hard. Kyle Ericksen will start and throw strikes and will continue to swing the bats but I feel good and confident,” Leonesio added.