It was bumpy at times and they had to squeak out some close victories, but at the conclusion of the Section 6 Tournament, the Turlock American Little League 12-year-old All-Stars claimed the title of champions after winning three straight contests.
The Turlock Americans punched their ticket into the State tournament following a 7-3 win over Morada in the finale on Tuesday.
“They did what they were capable of and when the other team counterstruck, we were there to address it. Matter of being up, it was a matter of finishing the game,” said Turlock head coach Mike Lawrence.
Turlock is now a perfect 6-0 in all games played so far, including District and Section contests.
The tournament kicked off with a 7-6 win over Morada on Saturday that was followed with a 3-2 win over Linden. They met Morada once again in the final on Tuesday, where they came out on top, 7-3.
“We came out flat and just deflated from a week of summer and showing up to 100-degree heat was hard to overcome, despite our foresight and preparation. This caused us to allow three errors allowing 4 runs in the first inning,” said Lawrence about the first game with Morada.
Turlock found themselves down early in that first game against Morada.
Morada was up 6-0 following a two-run homer. Turlock knew they needed to change it up, but after five innings they only had one run to Morada’s six.
In the sixth, Turlock loaded the bases and eventually cut the lead to 6-5 with four runs added.
With the bases still loaded in the bottom of the sixth, and two outs, and two strikes, Garret Shamgochian stepped it when he hit a single into right field, scoring Jaron Rocha from third, while Will Magni was waved in following a bobbled ball in the outfield, as they captured the win in walk-off fashion, 7-6.
“A walk off single by Shamgochian won the most amazing comeback in the 11th hour Turlock has seen in years,” said Lawrence. “Morada had pulled their aces early thinking they had the game in the bag, saving their pitchers for successive games. But this was a critical error. Their successive pitching struggled and through multiple swaps they ended up loading the bases. It was amazing. The coaches and parents are so very proud of all of these all stars. They dug deep and showed heart and grit today. We couldn't have asked for more.”
The Americans followed up their first-round victory with a 3-2 win over Linden on Sunday that put them in the final on Tuesday against a Morada team they had already beaten in the first round.
In the finale, Turlock took an early 7-0 lead, and while they allowed three runs in the process.
“We finished it, real proud of them. Made changes we needed to make and executed and did what they do best which is play hard,” said Lawrence. “It absolutely was a team effort. The only way we got there was by getting all of our team involved. They had to be solid and do their job and that is how it happened and batting was critical. We had two great defensive games, first two games, then focused on batting between was critical and they executed right off the bat, game changer at the end.”
State kicks off on Saturday from Contra Costa’s District 45 in Hayward, with a time and opponent yet to be determined. For more information visit, https://tshq.bluesombrero.com/default.aspx?portalid=25074
“Different pool sizes in the next one, will be six teams… so we will have to be there a little longer and taking care of business — more significance, more pressure,” said Lawrence. “Each level we are expected to play at a higher level, but the other kids are 12 as well, and there’s nothing we can’t do. Just keep picking apart teams till we can't no more.”