The Turlock American Little League 12-year-old All-Stars are the 2018 District 73 Little League Champions after they toppled their crosstown foes—the Turlock Nationals—in Thursday’s Championship game from Julien Field in a 10-0 mercy-rule victory.
“I am real pleased, a lot of people doubted we would make it to the championship, so they showed up and made a statement and proved we belonged here,” said Turlock Nationals head coach Nick Paslay. “I am not overly ecstatic, but I am happy with my team and I couldn’t have asked for more from them.”
“It started off a little slow but I have confidence that we can pitch, play defense and put the ball in play… took a little time to get there but I am happy with how the kids played through,” said Turlock American head coach Bill York.
The Turlock American squad was nearly untouchable in all four games played.
They outscored opponents 37-1 in all four District 73 games played, which now moves them into the Section 6 tournament.
“I think we scored 37 runs and gave up one and it’s good momentum going into the next tournament,” said York. “I was able to see some pitchers that got work and kids getting out of slumps and it’s good coming off District and we can carry that into Sections and continue to press upon them with playing well.”
Both local teams won their first two games before meeting into the semifinal on Tuesday.
Turlock American won that game 11-1, forcing Turlock National into the losers’ bracket.
In a win or go home scenario, the National squad overcame the jitters as they toppled Atwater in a 7-2 final on Wednesday that gave them another shot at their crosstown rivals on Thursday for the trophy and banner.
“We showed up to play,” said Paslay about Wednesday’s game. “We weren’t ready to be done, we wanted another shot at these guys. Obviously, it didn’t pan out but we competed [Thursday] for all six innings. Aiden Sanchez went almost a complete game and threw the ball really well and did everything we asked.”
Turlock American started their ace Carson Gonzales who tossed four shutout innings, finishing with 67 pitches for the game.
Turlock National started Alex Trujillo who went 3 and 2/3 innings for the game before Lucas Blakemore came in to relieve Trujillo.
After the two first innings, the game was scoreless at 0-0.
In the top of the third, the National squad left a pair of runners on base while in the bottom of the third, the Americans added the first runs of the game, adding three to go up 3-0, highlighted by a Daniel Mazon two-run homer to right center field.
Gonzales went three up and three down in the top of the fourth to keep the 3-0 lead heading into the bottom half.
Dustin Newsome of the Turlock Americans leveled a single homerun over the left field fence to extend the lead to 4-0 and then 5-0 before the Nationals made a pitching change.
The Americans finished the game on a two-out rally that saw them score five runs consecutively, ending with a Newsome walk-off in the fourth to end it at 10-0.
“If you look at the game, in the first three innings, four of the balls were hit right at people, line drives to right, third basemen and it was just a matter of time,” said York. “All these kids are well prepared, they all have good swings and we can do that at any time against any kind of pitching.”
“Today we competed for about three innings,” Paslay added. “That is a really good well coached team and for us to compete with them for three innings, I think we just ran out of gas, the floodgates opened and they blew up the score on us. But I have nothing to hang my head about I am proud of our boys, not every team makes it to the championship game so the fact that both teams are from Turlock says a lot about this town.”
The Section 6 All-Star tournament for the 12s will take place from Julien Field and the tournament will run from July 14-18.
“We were fortunate to be here last year so 10 of the 13 kids we have remember that or at least I can take them back to it,” said York about being back in the Section 6 tournament. “I really do think they will be ready and Sections will be here, and that is absolutely an advantage for us and the fact that they are riding on a high note, I believe we should be competitive.”
Turlock Americans will kick off tournament play against the District 15 winners at 7 p.m. July 14.