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Turlock American 12s heading to District 73 title game
American 12s
Turlock American 12-year-old pitcher Tyler Ness tossed five innings of shutout ball with 79 pitches as he picked up the win in Mondays 9-0 semifinal matchup against Atwater. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

The Turlock American 12-year-old All-Star squad is on a tear and punched their ticket to the District 73 Championship game after sweeping Atwater 9-0 from Julien field Monday night in the semifinal.

“Atwater is always good and I think we were excited for this game,” said Turlock American head coach Kenny Leonesio. “Coming in we knew it'd be a tough game. We had an opportunity to 10-run rule them, but their pitcher did well and fought.”

This 12-year-old squad has shutout their last three opponents, outscoring them 33-0.

The Turlock squad was coming off a 14-0 mercy-rule win over Yosemite on Saturday and were looking to keep that pace going after back-to-back mercy-rule wins and they did that and then some.

“We don't really talk about winning,” said Leonesio. “We kind of just want to do things right and have quality at-bats and quality pitches. Obviously, everyone wants to win the next game, but that doesn't matter we are just focusing on the next one.”

This time, Atwater pushed them to the limit, going all six innings.

After just one inning, Turlock led 1-0 before they went on a six-run rally in the bottom half of the second.

One quick out was followed by a rally that started with a Gavin Farinha hard single off the wall.

Tyler Ness, who was also the starting pitcher for the Turlock side, drilled a three-run homer over the left field wall after a lengthy at-bat that extended the lead to 5-0.

With bases loaded, Kyle Ericksen hit a two-run double up the middle that gave the Turlock side a 7-0 lead.

Turlock scored a run in the fourth on a pass ball and Jackson Hart added the ninth and final run after hitting a solo shot to dead center with no outs.

Ness tossed five shutout innings with 79 pitches and picked up the victory while Dominic Damante pitched one shutout inning after tossing 16 pitches.

“Obviously we scored nine runs and had some good at bats, Tyler and Dom pitched well, but I think the defense was the big thing,” said Leonesio. “Tyler knew that they would be tough, but the moment is never too big for him and I think that is the way with most of our guys, you watch them, none seem nervous, they are out there having fun.”

The defense was also perfect, committing no errors for the game.

“There were some tough balls and hits that got through but no errors,” said Leonesio. “…defensively we played really well and that is what I wanted to stress, to get a lot of reps and we knew we would get a lot of groundballs.”

The season continues from Julien for the Turlock squad which advances to the title game against an opponent yet to be named by publication time at 7 p.m. today.

“I think they are really excited to be moving on,” Leonesio added. “They are real excited to practice to be honest with you, they are becoming baseball junkies, which is good. It's tough to get through the bracket. Still have to win one more, but it's a big one and we will get ready for that.”