The 2014 11-year-old Turlock American All-Stars' Section tournament run is over.
Although their season is over this year's team did surpass the 2013 squad by winning a District title.
This year the 11s secured the District 73 title along with a Section tournament run that ended in a one-run loss in the semifinal. But head coach Grady Welch could not be more proud of his team.
“We got to play in six games this year as opposed to only three last season,” said Welch. “I think everybody was surprised that the 11s got as far as they did this year. These kids earned it; they busted their rear ends. Everybody contributed on every win one way or another, and I can’t thank my assistants enough, Erik [Ward] and Scott [Ericksen], they helped these kids develop.”
After a mercy-rule victory in the first round game against Calaveras, the Turlock 11s dropped the following two games, which led to the elimination of the team in the tourney.
In Saturday’s game against Calaveras, Turlock saw great pitching from starter Cameron Ward who tossed two innings and struck out six in the process.
Anthony Tulio hit a three-run homer in the third inning over the center field wall and sealed the deal in the contest, ending it after four innings at Monticello School in Tracy by a score of 11-1.
“Great offense and bats—again—and also the pitching was great again,” said Welch.
This was followed by a 7-2 loss on Sunday against Delta, but the score did not reflect the game, said Welch.
Delta jumped out to a 7-0 lead after the sixth inning, scoring three in the third inning, which then deflated the Turlock offense.
“As soon as they scored their two runs the kids got brought down a bit… we never played behind in tourney yet so it was a shocker for our guys,” said Welch.
James Ericksen started the game as he went four innings and punched out five, while giving up two runs.
“Solid baseball. Defensive-wise we just made some mental mistakes and errors that cost us, especially playing a team like Delta that matched very well against us,” Welch said. “They were the better team, they didn’t make any errors on defense, very solid. On offense all our guys hit the ball hard but it was right at somebody.”
By the time the bats came alive with only three outs remaining it was too little too late as the Delta squad ended Turlock’s winning streak of four straight.
In the semifinal matchup in the losers' bracket, the Turlock Americans faced Tracy for an opportunity to bounce right back into the finale, but Tracy was able to nudge out two runs in the end and pulled out the 6-5 victory after a walk-off, which sent the Turlock squad home packing.
“It was with two outs and bases loaded. Tracy just beat us and they just beat us fair and square — another great Little League baseball game,” said Welch.
Despite a great effort from starter Ward on the mound, who also went 4-for-4 from the plate, Tracy was able to squeeze out the final two runs in a critical situation while Turlock was kept in check and failed to clear bases loaded—three times.
Turlock used five different pitchers in the contest as Tracy made the local team work for every hit possible and did not allow an easy run.
The play of the game came from Owen Coelho, who made a leaping grab in center field to rob a possible two-run homer in the fourth inning, which could have kicked the air out of Turlock at that point.
“It was unreal, unbelievable and got the parents and everybody excited,” Welch said about Coelho’s gem play. “His back was up against the fence and he leaped so high his rear touched the top of the wall and that saved us big time at that point.”
Turlock led 5-4 after an Ericksen sacrifice RBI scored the go ahead run with only one inning left.
“We were District champions and that alone is rewarding to us and our assistant coaches and they know they have gotten better,” Welch said. “... all 13 of our boys are ball players and hard workers, they show up on time and eager to learn the game and they go out and prove it because they play with a lot of heart and I couldn’t ask for a better 11 year old group, they played their hearts out.”
The Turlock American 11s will be recognized by the Turlock City Council at its July 22 meeting, which begins at 6 p.m.