Turlock National Little League hosted this year’s Minors Division Tournament of Champions and it was wild for both of the Turlock teams right from the start.
The action began on Saturday from Soderquist Park with four teams kicking off tournament play and the hopes of winning the trophy at the end.
The Turlock American Little League Minors champion Bandits fared well in a four-day period where they had to play two elimination games in the final two contests.
They kicked off the Tournament of Champions with a first round win over Yosemite on Saturday in a 10-9 final.
The next game on Sunday saw them fall to Atwater, 11-1, taking them into the elimination bracket.
“They always rose to the occasion and played with all heart,” said Bandits head coach Jeff Peterson. “They were coachable and they never quit. We had about four pitchers during the regular season and nine kids out of 10 pitched and that was their first time pitching and all did well. The coaches, players and parents had a blast this year.”
It was a quick turnaround as they faced Mariposa on Monday and beat them 7-5.
The win set up a win or go home situation with Los Banos on Tuesday.
When it was all over, LB got the better end as they won 7-2, eliminating the Bandits.
“Played four straight games in a row,” said Peterson. “We had a great time and the team learned a lot. Pitched nine out of my 10 players. Never seen so many young players with the heart they showed… cool stuff.”
The Turlock National Little League Minors champion Redwings had a different path on the same bracket.
They kicked off tournament play with a 12-2 win over Los Banos on Sunday afternoon.
The win gave them a day off on Monday before they came back to battle one of the toughest teams in the area — Atwater.
Unfortunately, Atwater got the better end as they toppled the Redwings 11-2, booting them to the elimination round.
Once in the elimination round, the Redwings immediately had to play less than 24 hours later against a Los Banos team that had just beaten the Bandits the day before by five runs.
Los Banos ended up toppling the Redwings in the semifinal 11-5 and eliminating them from the tournament.
“We were saving our best pitcher and that strategy didn’t pan out,” said Redwings head coach Jeff Anderson. “Los Banos got more hits in this game versus the last game, and their defense played better in this game in my opinion.”