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Two straight wins catapult National 12s to District 73 Championship
National 12s
The Turlock National 12-year-old team captured a win over Mariposa on Thursday and earned a spot in Saturday's District 73 Championship game against the Turlock Americans. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

The rematch is set for the Turlock National and Turlock American 12-year-old All-Stars who will now square off in the District 73 Championship game today, a rematch after meeting back on Tuesday.

This time however, the Nationals hope to come away with a victory after coming off back-to-back wins over Los Banos and Mariposa.

The team capped off their impressive performance in two straight games by defeating Mariposa on Thursday in a 9-2 victory at Julien field.

“Our kids are pumped and are ready to go. Hopefully, our bats come alive and are ready to hit on Saturday,” said National head coach Harpreet Singh.

On Thursday, Mariposa scored twice in the first inning to take an early lead, but after that no player came near scoring.

Josh Leonardo started for the National side and was nearly untouchable after the first inning.

“Leonardo, who started, did really good,” said Singh. “He pitched lights out. He was on fire and ready to go. He was on point and not nervous at all. I have not seen that good of a pitching performance from a kid in a long time. He did so well.”

Leonardo tossed a complete-game six-inning contest and finished with 65 pitches and went on to strike out five of the final six outs.

Leonardo also hit well, going 4 for 4 for the game.

“He was good all around,” said Singh of Leonardo.

After Mariposa went up 2-0 in the top of the first, the Nationals scored five runs in the bottom half. Leonardo lead off with a double and then Matt Morris' RBI double brought in the first run at 2-1.

Julian slammed a two-run shot to make it 3-2 then Sergio Romo stepped up to the plate and hit the scoreboard with a solo homer to make it 4-2.

Joe Pagola followed with an RBI single to bring in Christian Romero and the score read 5-2 going into the second.

No action occurred in the next three innings as both sides went scoreless and hitless in the second, third and fourth innings.

Then in the fifth, Luke Fountain hit an RBI double and Romero followed with an RBI double as well and before the inning ended, Romero stole home to make it 9-2.

In the top of the sixth, the side was retired 1, 2 and 3 by Leonardo.

“The kids, they found a torch underneath and it lit up. They were ready to go, they knew they could do it and wanted to finish it,” said Singh. “They did well all the way around, especially in the fifth inning to seal the deal.”

Chase Gilbreth went 3 for 3 and caught for the entire game.

The Nationals will take on the Americans in a rematch from the opening game of the tournament, but this time for the District 73 Championship at 7 p.m. today at Julien Field.