The thought of the Senior League Baseball World Series has been etched into the minds of the Turlock Americans ever since the group got together months ago. And that thought did not go away Monday night, when the boys faced their fiercest competitors so far in this campaign.
“It was nerve-wracking,” Turlock American player Tim Mitchell said about facing the Sunrise Senior League champions from Stockton in the Section 6 Championship at Pedretti Sports Complex. “They kept us on our toes.”
But the Turlock Americans still managed double-triumphs, beating their opponents twice, including a 12-2, 10-run mercy rule win in the second game to avoid a decisive third game. Now, they prepare for their next challenge: the division tournament. Because of a first-round bye, the Turlock Americans won’t play until Sunday at 10 a.m. at Bear Creek High in Stockton.
If they win the division tournament, they move on to regionals.
After that, it’s the World Series in Bangor, Maine on Aug. 14-20.
But, of course, the Turlock Americans aren’t thinking ahead. They need to collect many more wins to get to their final destination — one that a half-dozen of them came close to three years ago, when a group of 12-year-olds coached by Phil Sanchez was just one win from reaching the regional tournament in San Bernardino.
A half-dozen of those players grew up into more matured bodies and decided to reunite, under manager Tony Murphy this summer to give it one more shot.
So far, the Turlock Americans appear unstoppable.
Thanks to the pitching of Tyler Lucas and Gavin Gaffaney in their respective wins Monday, they held off their opponents. Gaffaney also broke the first game open in the fourth inning with a bases-loaded triple off the leftfield fence. Murphy added that his team’s defense also helped in both games. That prevented the opponents from initiating any rallies throughout the evening.
The Turlock Americans know their goal of reaching the World Series will only get tougher.
“So far they’ve stepped up to the challenge,” Murphy said. “Pretty much everyone is stepping up. I know it’s going to get tougher as they move along in the tournament. Right now, they’ve kept their focus. They really, really want to go as far as they can. Hopefully, they can go to Maine.”
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