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Nationals pull ahead for 12-year-old All-Star victory
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A National All-Star slides into second base as an American All-Star attempts to tag him out. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Thursday’s semi-final between the 12-year-old American and National All-Stars in the California District 73 Little League All-Star Tournament was closely contested from the start. Both teams scored two first-inning runs, exciting fans from both sides who went to Soderquist Park expecting an interesting game.

The National All-Stars pulled ahead in the second inning and never looked back though, denying the American All-Stars any more runs in the 7-2 victory.

“The damage was done in the second inning with the top of our order,” National Coach John Garcia said.

Brandon Pacheco, Anthony Encalade and Brett Hagen helped their team jump out to the lead with strong base hits, but National All-Stars were also aided by their opponents whose errors paved the way for the majority of their five-run second inning.

Encalade, who opened the tournament with a no-hitter, took the game over from the hill after his team’s slew of runs, throwing 85 pitches and keeping the American All-Stars off balanced with his fast ball.

“He’s been a dominant pitcher for most of the season,” Garcia said.

The National All-Stars must now wait and see who their opponents will be in Monday’s championship game. Turlock American and Yosemite play today with the winner advancing to meet the National All-Stars at an undetermined, neutral field.

“Both teams are very strong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we play Turlock American again,” Garcia said. “We had a goal and we expected to go far. Now we’re trying to fulfill that goal.”