The Turlock American 12-year-old All-Stars started off their run in the state tournament badly, but soon recovered and earned a spot in the final four of the Little League big show.
The Americans fell to El Dorado Hills in the opening game of the state tourney, but followed the loss with back-to-back elimination wins, first an 11-3 win over Aptos on Sunday followed by a tight 9-8 win on Monday night from River Park in Fresno.
“We have played eight road games in 10 days. The amount of energy and heart showed by these kids in unreal. Top to bottom, everyone is doing their job,” said American head coach Kurtis Carr. “There is no quit in this team, and they are really believing in what they can accomplish.”
In Saturday's opener, the Americans met a very strong El Dorado Hills team that wasn't going to let up easily.
The Americans opened up the state tournament much like they did last year after Cooper Carr led off with a solo home run but the Americans still fell behind after the first, 3-1.
El Dorado Hills strung together some hits and the Americans just failed to contain their offense.
The Americans responded in the second with a two-run shot from Boston Souza to tie it at 3-3 but in the fourth and fifth, the defensive miscues affected the team as they fell behind 12-3 at the conclusion of the fifth.
The Americans tried to mount a late surge in the sixth and final inning with a three-run shot from Dylan Fuller and a solo homer from Kaden Petersen, but the rally fell short as the Americans lost for only the second time this season.
In Sunday's game against Aptos, the Americans went on a tear and jumped on them early with a four-run first inning rally that was highlighted by a solo home run from Fuller and a two-run double from Julian Espinoza.
Aptos answered back with two runs in the second, but the Americans blew the game wide open with a six-run third inning after a two-run shot from Souza followed by a grand slam from Zach Mayol.
“Aptos never answered back due to the effective pitching from Fuller,” said Carr of Sunday's game.
Auki Flores closed out the scoring after blasting a solo shot in the fifth.
Fuller started and went 4 innings, allowing just two earned runs on four hits. Aidan Askil pitched the final two innings, and allowed one earned run on two hits.
On Monday, the Americans met a very strong Madera team.
Madera jumped out early with a three-run first but the Americans responded after getting two runs on an RBI fielder's choice from Griffen Sotomayor and an RBI single from Kaden Petersen.
Madera then struck five more runs in the second and third, putting them up 8-2 at that point.
On the brink of elimination, the Americans buckled down and in the bottom of the third, went on to score four runs after a two-run homer from Sotomayor and Espinoza, which cut the lead to 8-6.
Zach Mayol, who started, settled in afterwards and along with the relief of Sotomayor, did not allow a run for the remainder of the game.
In the bottom of the fourth, Souza launched a clutch three-run bomb for the go-ahead and the Americans held on for the one-run victory.
Mayol started and tossed 4 1/3 innings, allowed just four hits with five strikeouts. Sotomayor went 2/3 innings and allowed no hits and struck out one.
“They [Madera] decided to pull their ace with an 8-2 lead thinking we were done and they could save him for later in the week, and it cost them the game,” Carr added.