Kyle Ericksen and his Turlock American Little League Red Sox squad weren’t going to be denied a finals appearance in the Majors Tournament of Champions after Tuesday’s performance against the Atwater Giants from Soderquist Park.
Ericksen pitched a four-inning complete game after tossing 50 pitches while Cole Hendrix drilled three home-runs and drove in eight and the Red Sox cruised through a 13-2 decision to end it in a four-inning mercy-rule decision, earning a spot in Thursday’s TOC finale.
“We know they are a tough team and have some big boys who can put runs on the board, so I thought we did a good job pitching; Kyle kept them all off balance,” said Red Sox coach Scott Ericksen. “But the biggest thing was we hit the ball, came out aggressive and hit the ball.”
Hendrix, along with his teammates, scored many runs early on and never took the gas off the pedal.
In the bottom of the first, Hendrix hit his first homer on a three-run shot over the left field wall to go up 4-0.
By the second inning, Max Welch had drilled a two-run double to extend the lead to 6-0.
“If our pitcher or defense cannot make a play to get that batter out or hits a home run, we will tip our hat to them and we will go with the next batter,” said Red Sox head coach Grady Welch. “That’s what sets us apart from any other team we have faced this year. Our boys work hard in practice and they go out to their games and put all their hard work to victory.”
Hendrix, once again, followed up with a three-run hit over the right field fence and the Red Sox went up 9-0 by the start of the third.
A flurry of hits and great base running ensued in the bottom of the third that included Hendrix’s third homer of the game with a two-run shot to left center to go up 13-0.
“He is seeing the ball really well right now and is hitting them all, so it’s great to have him in there,” said Ericksen of Hendrix’s performance. “Also, the top of the lineup was getting on and you have to fight your way through our lineup, we have a solid team.”
Ericksen allowed a pair of runs in the top of the fourth but the game ended with an 11-run victory.
The Red Sox also committed no errors for the game.
“I think getting on the board early, obviously, helped our defense and pitcher settle in a bit,” said Red Sox coach Andy Walker. “Usually that is great confidence, but other than that, Kyle threw a heck of a game and kept the batters all off balance and kept them on their heels.”
The Red Sox are now in the finals with a perfect 3-0 record after defeating Modesto/Empire, 17-2, in Saturday’s opener after a mercy-rule ending, following by a 20-2 win against Yosemite on Sunday in a four-inning mercy-rule victory.
“Our pitchers never pitch around or intentionally walk batters. Our catchers and pitchers call their own pitches,” said Welch. “That’s pretty amazing how baseball savvy our Red Sox players are. It’s been a great privilege coaching these boys and being part of their successful season.”
The Red Sox will next take on an opponent yet to be named for the TOC final at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
“Our plan is we want to win every game, we are not thinking about other games first, we want to end it Thursday,” Ericksen added.