It’s not often that you see a team with a .500 record in a championship game, let alone win one.
That was the scenario on Wednesday evening as the American Rangers outmatched the National Pirates 9-0 in the 15-16-year-old Senior Turlock Little League City Championship game at Pedretti Park.
Rangers coach Jeff Mitchell sent his squad out to the field with a 4-4 record that was sufficient enough to be the top-seed in the American League. The game was a bit of a pitcher’s duel between Rangers' Ryan Cascia and the Pirates' Jesse Meraz until the Rangers woke up their bats in the fifth and sixth innings.
With a 2-0 lead heading into the top half of the sixth inning, the Rangers' entire lineup managed to reach base safely before the first out was made. The first seven hitters of the frame rounded the bases with the help of run-scoring knocks from Cascia, David Montano, Jon Witt, Patrick Dudley and Ryan Cody Berry.
“The bats came alive and everybody did their part,” said Mitchell of the sixth inning rally. “This was the last game of the year, so I told the guys to leave it all out on the field. Teamwork was No. 1 and they made it happen.”
Cascia, who had an RBI single in that sixth inning, was brilliant on the mound as well. A pitch limit restricted him from going the distance. The pitcher from Denair High struck out eight Pirates while allowing just three hits and no hitters to reach base via walks.
“Ryan’s been our horse all year,” Mitchell said. “It’s all location, location, location. He just didn’t miss.”
The Rangers' offensive attack was well-balanced as their lineup pounded out 14 of the game’s 17 hits. Each spot in the batting order recorded at least one hit.
Dudley cracked a pair of run-scoring doubles. Montano and Witt also doubled while driving in two runs each.
“I’m proud of each and every one of these guys,” added Mitchell. “I don’t think I’ve coached a team where there have been no character problems. Their personalities are A-plus.”
Steady offense and commanding pitching lead to the Rangers' city championship. Not bad for a team that was just 4-4 coming into the game.