Oh, to be young. The Turlock National Little League 10-12-year-old City Championship matchup is set. The double-elimination set — which starts today at 5 p.m. — will feature the American Orioles, who have yet to lose in the tournament, against the American Cubs, who are fresh off a 15-2 rout of the National Pirates on Thursday at Soderquist Park.
Thursday night’s game was highlighted by a pair of five-run frames for the Cubs. Their half of the second inning saw back-to-back home runs by third baseman Austin Taylor (a three-run shot) and center-fielder Trevor Santiago, whose blast still might not have landed yet.
In the next inning, the Cubs tacked on five more runs with the aid of a three-run bomb off the bat of shortstop Brandon Booz that ricocheted off the telephone pole in straightaway centerfield. It was his league leading 15th home run of the season. He was accountable for eight of the Cubs’ 15 runs, knocking in four and scoring four on his own.
It was all Cubs from the get-go. They brought home two runs in the top of the first inning on back-to-back doubles by second baseman John Fitzgerald and Booz, who later scored on a Taylor single making it 2-0 before the Pirates even came to bat.
Fitzgerald went 4-for-4 with three singles and a double, scoring all four times.
The Cubs (15-9 in regular season, 3-1 in playoffs) had to earn wins against the National Rockies and the American A’s before suffering their first playoff loss to their championship game opponent, the Orioles. The Orioles have postseason momentum, winning three straight against the National Pirates, Cardinals and, of course, the Cubs.
“We (the coaching staff) just like to tell the kids to go have fun,” said Cubs assistant coach Scott Haggstrom. “Having fun is what Little League is all about. We tell them if they go out and have fun and trust themselves that anything can happen.”
Game one of the championship series begins at 5 p.m. today at Soderquist field. Since the Orioles have yet to lose in the playoffs, the Cubs would need to rally off two straight wins to claim the city crown.