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Rangers take Minor League title
Rangers runner Weston Caetano safely steals second base in a 5-1 win over the Sand Gnats in the Minor League City Championship of the Turlock Little League on Tuesday afternoon at Julien Field. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal

Teammates like to call Trevor Price “Bam Bam,” a nickname he earned from his friends at Dennis Earl Elementary. That moniker then transitioned onto the baseball field, where it is perhaps the most appropriate.

“I hit hard,” he said with a smile.

He lived up to the nickname Tuesday afternoon at Julien Field, where he smacked a standup triple to push in two runners and initiate an unstoppable five-run rally in the fourth inning. Those scores were all that Bam Bam’s Rangers needed to win 5-1 over the Sand Gnats in the Minor League City Championship of the Turlock Little League.

With a runner on third base and two outs, the American League champion Rangers might’ve scored again if it wasn’t for the rule that prevents teams from putting up more than five runs per inning. In the fourth, the Rangers finished with five scores on three hits and one error, but the biggest hit of them all — besides an RBI single by Mike Jeffus — was Price’s standup triple.

“I saw the ball right after the pitch,” the slugger said, “and it was straight and high, right where I like it. As soon as I saw it, I knew I was going to hit it.”

Even with the fourth-inning surge, Rangers coach Steve Abrams said he knew his team couldn’t let up.

“Bam Bam’s hit broke the tie,” said Abrams, whose team finished 16-1 overall. “Their pitcher (Sand Gnat’s Dominic Aguilar, who finished with six strikeouts) was pitching outstanding. That other team was a fabulous team. So for him to do that against such a fabulous team, it was a big hit in the moment of the game.”

The Sand Gnats — the city’s runner-ups and the National League champions —   produced a scare in their final plate appearance. Rangers’ Jake Abrams relieved starting pitcher Price (nine strikeouts) in the fifth inning and went on to strike out five batters himself. The final batter for the Sand Gnats was Aguilar, who had two runners in scoring position with two outs.

Aguilar slammed a shot that a Rangers’ outfielder misplayed, signaling in Michael McCulley. But in the same sequence, Abrams managed to throw out the runner at second base to wrap up the championship run.

Was Abrams nervous about the final inning?

“I was confident,” he said. “I believe in my teammates. If they hit, I knew my teammates would catch it or field it.”

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.