The 15-year-old Stanislaus Cardinals Babe Ruth baseball team, which includes four players from Turlock and Pitman High, began its postseason play on Thursday night at Modesto Christian in the Babe Ruth district tournament with an 8-7 win in extra innings against Tracy.
The Cardinals were ahead 7-0 at the start of the sixth, but Tracy wasn't giving up that easy. Tracy was able to capitalize on missed pitches as they tied the score to 7-7 in the bottom of the sixth — without a single hit.
Walks became the story of the sixth, but Turlock’s Damon Treadwell was able to quiet the Tracy offense in the final three innings from the mound as he picked up the win. The Cardinals caught a break in the ninth to win it and move further into tournament play.
“That is just baseball. I just told the kids that at this point it is just about winning so it doesn’t matter how it happens but as long as we pulled it out,” said Stanislaus head coach Sam Nichols. “Treadwell came in at the end and got us through and pulled it out and that’s what matters at this point.”
The Cardinals accumulated a 13-3 record over the course of the year leading up to the first playoff game, but they were no ordinary 15s team.
They competed against 18-year-old teams throughout the season, playing over six games against many seniors and upcoming collegiate players to better prepare for battle on the diamond.
“We played about six games against 18 year-olds and lost one. We can hit and we can put up some runs,” Nichols said. “With our pitching, when we throw strikes it is overpowering and we hung in with the 18 year-olds.”
Thursday’s contest was 0-0 heading into the third inning, when finally the bats awoke for the Cardinals with two outs as they tallied five runs in the top of the third, which began with Pitman’s Bradley Enos racking up a two-run single.
Treadwell followed with bases loaded as he slammed a base clearing single, and was nearly caught in a pickle between first and second base, however, he outsmarted the infielders and beat out the throw to first just after picking up three RBI with the single bagger.
The sixth run came in the fourth followed by Enos scoring the seventh run after an RBI sacrifice.
In the bottom of the sixth, Tracy walked in six runs and scored their seventh on a pass ball.
“I think we let down a little bit, especially after going up 7-0, and stopped hitting a little bit. But we won, so that is good,” Nichols said. “We have played them eight times this summer and it has not even been close one time and so a lot of it is mental because our guys seemed like we had this game in the books and were already looking into the next game, but we have to take one game at a time.”
In the top of the ninth, Modesto Christian and Stanislaus Cardinals’ Michael Cummings was able to drive in Enos, one last time, but this time for the game winner as he beat out the throw to first base and Enos walked in home from third with no trouble to capture the win.
“Michael [Cummings] is an explosive player with a live arm and can hit with power and he is also really fast. I told him not to worry about what happens because we have a good team,” Nichols said. “We have guys that will pick him up, luckily, he stayed with it and in the game put the ball in play to beat out the throw and made something happen.”
Now the Cardinals will move on to today's game with an opponent yet to be named and a time yet to be determined but the game will take place at Modesto Christian.