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Outfield error in final inning helps MLL minor team advance

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Gabe Ortiz of the Manteca Little League minor Giants slides toward home plate past Tracy American catcher Joshua Hernandez in the second inning of Thursday’s loser’s bracket District 67 Tournament ...


POSTED June 22, 2012 12:58 a.m.

With one more hurdle to clear, Manteca Little League’s minor division Giants are taking the long road to the District 67 Tournament of Champions final round.

Thanks to a dropped ball in right field on a routine pop fly, the Giants advance to today’s consolation-bracket semifinal with their 6-5 win over Tracy American Thursday at Brock Elliot School.

Fresh off claiming the Manteca City Tournament title, the Giants dropped their TOC opener to Tracy National this past Saturday and have since gone through four opponents in five days to get to this point. They take on the loser of Thursday’s Salida-Weston Ranch winner’s-bracket semifinal this evening at 5:30.

Manteca had a chance to end Thursday’s do-or-die game in the top of the sixth ahead, 6-4.

The Yankees of Tracy American would not go away quietly, however. Anthony Payne reached on an infield single to load the bases with no outs, and Dale Vollbredt and D’Andre Diaz followed with RBI walks to tie it.

Giants pitcher Diego Arroyo struck out the next batter then got some huge help from shortstop River Weahunt to get out of the inning with the score still knotted at 6. Weahunt robbed Jack Griffith of a base hit by ranging past the second-base bag and into the shallow infield grass to snare the popup.

Tracy’s threat continued with No. 1 batter Jesse Gonsalves now at the plate. On the next pitch, he delivered a sharp line drive to left only to have a diving Weahunt make the catch in the air for the final out and the bases still loaded.

Manteca built on that momentum in the bottom half of the sixth when Ricky Lopez led off with a walk and later advanced to third on wild pitches.

The game appeared to be on its way to extra innings when, with two out and two on, Giants cleanup hitter Jacob de Jesus lofted a pop fly to right, but Tracy American’s right fielder could not hold onto the ball as the Lopez plated the game-winning run.

Arroyo was the winning pitcher for the Giants with 2 1/3 innings under his belt. Starter de Jesus struck out nine and gave up four runs (one earned) before reaching his pitch limit with two outs in the third. He was also 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI triple offensively.

Briggs Alavezos went 2 for 3 with a triple and a run, Arroyo added an RBI triple of his own and Weahunt finished 2 for 4 with a run.

Ethan Haines went 2 for 3 with two runs scored and one driven in to lead Tracy American.

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