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Rivercats, Rangers take Little League City Championships
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A Rivercat at bat focuses on the pitch during the third inning of the Minors City Championship on Saturday. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

The American Rivercats faced the National Bats in the first of two Turlock Little League City Championships on Saturday. The first half of the game turned out to be a defensive battle as the Rivercats and Bats dueled from the hill in the Minor league contest. An offensive surge in the top of the fifth inning turned the tide for the Rivercats, however, leading to a 7-2 victory and the team’s first City Championship.

“I told them from the beginning of the season that we had a good shot at the city championship,” Rivercats’ head coach Cory Rodriguez said. “We were feeling very confident heading into Saturday.”

After winning the American League Championship and finishing the regular season with only two, one-run losses, the Rivercats stepped onto Soderquist field determined to be number one. With Cole Pacheco on the pitcher’s mound their job turned out to be a little easier than expected.

Pacheco nearly pitched a complete game, reaching his 75 pitch limit early in the sixth inning; shortly after his two allowed runs. The Rivercat defense rallied behind Pacheco, keeping them in the game while the Bats displayed an accurate pitching game of their own.

The Rivercats found the board in the fourth inning with a pair of home plate steals from third base by Dominic Rodriguez and Michael Mata. The Rivercats extended their two run lead in the fifth inning with a Nathan Garibay RBI, a Mata RBI, and a three- run triple from Rodriguez. After the Bats’ two runs in the sixth inning Rodriguez, stepped in for Pacheco to finish the game out.

“There were tears of joy all around; it was crazy,” Rodriguez said.

Saturday’s Majors City Championship between the American Rangers and National Rockies was a close one. After six innings of back and forth play the Rangers emerged victorious, edging out the Rockies 4-3.

“We had to stay in there and keep fighting,” Rangers’ head coach Nathan Mirza said. “We came in with a lot of confidence, but were quickly brought back to reality.”

The Rangers’ confidence was a direct result of their undefeated status heading into Saturday’s championship game but their reality check was a result of the Rockies’ pitching.

“Their pitcher was on,” Mirza said. “He was hitting his spots well.”

The Rockies took an early lead with a first inning run. By the fifth inning the Rangers still trailed by a run, 2-3, and were forced to switch pitchers after Dominic Silva reached a pitch count of 87. Two sixth inning runs sealed the come from behind win for the Rangers and gave them their first City Championship in team history.

“They were relieved that it was over and ecstatic to have the win,” Mirza said.