The Modesto Babe Ruth 16-18 year olds fell short of a second consecutive title on Monday after San Benito of Hollister shut out the local team, 5-0, in the second game of a doubleheader at the Central California State Tournament.
Jordan Gonzalez, former Pitman High pitcher, started the final game against San Benito and tossed four innings, allowed four hits and three runs with four strikeouts.
“There are a lot of things that took a toll on the loss. Six games in four days is a lot of baseball for these kids but they were able to come back from the losers' bracket to push it to the final game and that was a huge step for our team and character builder moving forward,” Modesto’s head coach Bobby Swedberg said.
Swedberg’s squad won four straight — defeating Ripon, Tracy, Hanford and Hollister in the first game, 12-5 — before losing to Hollister in the final. Connor Torres, a 2012 Beyer High graduate, started the first game against Hollister on the mound and threw five innings, struck out four, and gave up four runs.
After being down 3-0 early in that game, Modesto came back to win. Torres’ broke the game open in the third inning after a base clean double in the third to put them up 4-3. He went 4-for-4 with a double and 5 RBIs. Brennan Hauser of Pitman High went 4-for-4 also adding a double and an RBI.
“It was the first championship game and the kids came back to focus. There were clutch hits and we saw five or six different pitchers. No one could figure out how to get us out in the first game. One hit after another helped us maintain and get momentum going our way,” Swedberg said.
After a successful 2012 summer campaign that included a state championship victory and a third place run into the Babe Ruth World Series Tournament, the Modesto squad began its run on Friday against Hollister, a rematch of last year’s state title game.
“We did well for the tournament but started off a little shaky Friday night, lost to Hollister in a no hitter that was rough,” Swedberg said.
After a no hitter, the team came back Saturday to face Ripon, and they demolished them, 14-0, and allowed only four hits en route to the shutout.
Leading the way offensively was Tyler Murphy from Turlock High who went 2-for-3 with a three run homer in the first inning that cracked the game wide open.
On Sunday, Modesto played Tracy, and won in shootout fashion, 20-1. Matt Tyler, a 2012 Hilmar High graduate, started the game and threw two innings, and allowed only two hits with one strikeout. Murphy was 1-for-2 with an RBI. Gonzalez was 3-for-3 with a homer and 3 RBIs.
The squad returned later that night on Sunday to play Hanford in the semifinal game and won 12-1. Murphy started and tossed six innings, allowed four hits, one walk, and struck out 10. His bat added a 3-for-5 day at the plate. Matt Tyler was also injured during the game.
In the four games won by the Modesto squad, the offense produced 58 runs, and allowed only six runs.
The Modesto Babe Ruth squad did qualify for regionals, which begin Thursday in Riverton, Utah.
“It all begins with pitching. We need to come through since we lost kids due to injury. Some guys need to step it up so our hitters can put up runs and support our pitching,” Swedberg said. “Pitchers need to grind out and play hard and play good defense behind them. We know we have the talent and capability to overcome a deficit of any.”