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National Thunder trounce Owlz
One game left, will meet on Saturday
Little League
Josh Weatherbee of the Thunder slides into home during the third inning as Owlz catcher Johnny Zapien looks to make the tag out in Tuesdays game at Soderquist. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

Neither the Thunder nor Owlz of the AAA Turlock National Little League will get the opportunity to compete in the postseason this year, but both squads came out ready to play on Tuesday as they battled it out on the field.

The Owlz came into the game as the underdogs with nothing to lose as they stand below the bottom half of the standings, but they fought until the end despite the Thunder’s third and sixth inning rallies.

When it was all said and done, the Thunder outscored the Owlz 8-4 after being down 2-1. The Thunder notched the 9-5 win heading into the final game of the season.

“We did grind it out. Felt nervous at first, but then we hit the ball well and I was proud of them as well as the good fielding plays,” Thunder head coach Matt Day said. “We are having fun out there; it was a very successful year, and I was very impressed with how the kids improved over the season.”

With the win, the Thunder’s record stands at 8-5-1 as they will barely miss the postseason after struggling in the second half of the year. The Owlz fall to 5-9 overall, as this is good enough for third to last in league.

“We have great parents and great kids. All have been very supportive to be successful and have improved very well,” said Day.

The Owlz came out strong in the first inning and they went up 2-1 going into the second.

“The kids came a long way, since a lot of them don’t see a baseball all year long until they come play during the season. Unfortunately, the season is almost over and we just have a bunch of kids that can flat out play,” said Owlz head coach Alex Zapien.

In the top of the second, the visiting Thunder tacked on their second and third runs to go up 3-2.

Then in the bottom half with two outs, Austin Lemos scraped an RBI triple down the first base line to make it even at 3 apiece off Thunder starting pitcher Christian Romero.

Throwing miscues made it difficult for the Owlz to stay in the game after allowing the Thunder to score three runs with no outs to go up 6-3, which was followed by a pitching substitution for the Owlz who then got three outs.

Only two more runs would be added on by the Owlz after Thunder starting pitcher Romero, who picked up the win, kept the Owlz hitters in check behind his team’s strong offense and relentless base running ability.

Josh Weatherbee finished off the game for the Thunder as he tossed up one inning after allowing the Owlz to score their fifth and final run in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“This was a good pitching matchup and also with both catchers was a very tight game,” said Zapien.

As both squads anticipate their regular season finale, these teams will be able to meet again on Saturday to finish off the regular season with a second chance for the Owlz to show what they have and for the Thunder to prove they were worthy.

The game will start at 5:30 p.m. at Soderquist field.

 “We will ask some boys who have not played in key spots to step up and have a good game,” Day said.