The Turlock American 11-year-old All Stars are the 2017 Section 6 Tournament Champions.
They stayed calm, cool and collective throughout the series, especially following their first defeat on Tuesday afternoon in a close 3-1 loss to Manteca.
That loss set up a Wednesday clash that was winner take all from Julien Field, and behind their steady effort, the Turlock American squad was able pull away in the fifth with three runs to go up, while relief pitcher Dustin Newsome held off Manteca batters and the game ended, 9-7.
“Morale was good, everyone was hitting well and working hard, they came out loose and no pressure on our side and it was really fun for them playing this game,” said Turlock head coach Bill York.
They join the 10-year olds as the two squads from the Turlock American league to advance into the Nor Cal State Tournament.
“Third year in a row going to state, last year's 12s went and as a coach I am just thinking this is house money, we got here, we might as well win it is it what I told them,” said York. “Anything from here on out is icing on the cake and it’s to prepare for next year. I told them they are not guaranteed for next year’s team.”
One of the goals heading into Wednesday's finale was to jump ahead as early as possible said York.
Turlock achieved that from the onset when Rob York led off with a single in the top of the fifth. Harry Clark then bunted over for a base hit and Bubba Lujan followed up with a two-run line drive to the right center gap.
Cleanup batter Jordan Mikkelson followed with a single of his own soon after and Carson Gonzales stamped the five-run inning with a three-run shot over the right center wall.
Mikkelson started on the mound and pitched 3 and 2/3 innings, striking out four while Newsome closed out the final 2 and 1/3 innings, striking out four and allowing no earned runs.
Manteca manufactured two runs over the first three innings while Turlock was held scoreless in the second and third.
Robert McDaniel of Turlock led off with a double down the left field line and Daniel Mazon followed with an RBI single, extending the lead to 6-2.
In the bottom half of the fourth, Manteca answered with four runs to tie the game at 6-6 by the start of the fifth.
Mikkelson led off the fifth with a walk, then Gonzales followed with a single. A fielder's choice ensued and then Mazon walked to load up the bases with one out.
Kyle Parker drove in the first run with an RBI fielder's choice and then Clay Cornell followed with a two-run single to extend the lead to 9-6 for Turlock.
“The last three runs were small ball, timely hitting. The fielder’s choice might have been a miscue but we put pressure on their defense and manufactured those runs,” said York.
Manteca scored one run in the bottom of the sixth, but Newsome closed the doors to preserve the victory.
“They were pretty elated, they are just having fun and then started to chant, they were just goofing around and they have that same mentality, they just stay loose,” York added. “They don't let the pressure get to them, they are kids playing a game and that is what Little League is in a nutshell.”
Gonzales was 2-for-4 with a home-run and three RBI and a run scored. Cornell was 1-for-2 with two RBI while Robert McDaniel was 1-for-2 with a double and two runs.
Turlock will advance to the Nor Cal State Tournament starting with a game against the Section 4 winner from Fremont American Little League in Fremont at 10 a.m. today.