The Turlock American 12-year-old All-Stars are the District 73 champions and are advancing to the Section 6 Tournament after beating Atwater in extra innings on Wednesday from Julien Field, 5-4.
“It was amazing, we came out firing,” said head coach Mike Lawrence. “We put tons of our players from our toolbox out there in a good situation and they are good hitters that can bat around…Having the tools to be able to do what we did at the end, because Atwater is an amazing team, obviously both teams are very competitive, but we edged them.”
It was a very close contest that saw the Turlock Americans trailing at one point against an Atwater team they had beat on Saturday, 7-2.
“It was very similar in that early on we played them right away and there were some jitters, but this time around everyone had some experience under their belt and they were more relaxed,” said Lawrence. “The whole game was more relaxed as well; it was more about executing. It was a lot of fun.”
The action kicked off in the bottom of the first inning when Seth Salabor drilled a two-run homer to take the lead heading into the third.
Atwater rallied with a three-run homer drilled over the left field wall and made the score 3-2 until the fifth inning.
In the fifth, Atwater added another run and extended their lead to 4-2 following a wild pitch. That would be it for Atwater as Turlock’s pitching duo of Joe Farinha and Jaron Rocha didn’t allow another run at all. Combined they tossed six innings, allowing just three earned runs.
“Farinha and Rocha, both did a lot of work. Rocha was leading the way at the end and they landed right at Farinha and it was great,” said Lawrence.
Down by two runs and just innings to go, Turlock settled as the team got pumped up prior to the start of the bottom of the fifth.
They went on a two-run rally to tie the game that started with hit-by-pitch.
Then Garret Shamgochian, who pinch ran, scored the third run after a sacrifice RBI made it 4-3.
Rocha scored the fourth run to tie the game after a Farinha RBI single was hit up the middle perfectly, moving the base runners over and tying the game at 4-4.
“That is the difference; they knew they could do the job, they were not afraid at all, they just faced it with what they could do and they executed. It was a lot of fun,” said Lawrence.
Farinha, who tossed five innings, threw 87 pitches before Rocha came in to relieve and finish the game.
In the sixth, he ended with 19 pitches but fended off the Atwater offense, holding them scoreless at 4-4.
Turlock went three up and three down in the bottom of the sixth, forcing extra innings.
Rocha struck out the final batter of the top of the seventh and would finish throwing 27 pitches in two innings of work.
The pressure was on for Turlock in the bottom of the seventh.
The chance for a walk-off was there and they started off with a single then a double to immediately add the first two baserunners on.
Following a Salabor walk, Farinha stepped up to the plate and hit a walk-off RBI single, scoring Rocha and ending it at 5-4 to move on to the Section Tournament.
“We told them how proud we were of them and how they played at a higher level than their age. They were able to come back from a deficit and put that aside and play hard until they won the game in extra innings,” said Lawrence. “Our boys decided to turn it on again and I don’t know where it comes from to be honest. I try to motivate them early, but they just get rolling when they are ready and they turn it on. We had some learning struggles; we are going to be practicing hard and be relaxed and work on what we need to.”
The Section 6 Tournament is slated to take place from July 13-16 from Christa McAuliffe Middle School.