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MANTECA COOLS OFF HOT LATHROP

Northgate does its part to set up semifinal showdown

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MANTECA COOLS OFF HOT LATHROP

Lathrop major division all-star Jake Campbell beats the throw to Manteca Little League third baseman John Da Rosa after smacking a double Wednesday at Jefferson School in Tracy.

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED July 8, 2009 11:50 p.m.
TRACY — When Chuck Good threw his 20th pitch, a second strike to Lathrop’s Andy Garcia in the third inning, Manteca Little League major division all-star manager Aaron Peterson had a decision to make.

Should he relieve one of his top hurlers to keep him available for Friday’s District 67 All-Star Tournament semifinal, or dig deeper into his staff and risk letting a dangerous Lathrop club grab the momentum and ultimately lose?

Peterson gave Good a nod, signaling the go-ahead to heave pitch No. 21.

Good delivered a clutch strikeout to leave two Lathrop base runners on, and he gave himself some breathing room with a two-run homer in the fifth to lead Manteca’s 6-2 victory Wednesday at Jefferson School.

Good gave up a run in the third and a solo shot to straightaway center by Robert Esparza in the fourth, but it was otherwise a steady 3 2/3-inning outing, which included six strikeouts, in relief.

Starter Dillon Lauborough struck out two in 1 1/3 innings, and Ryan Vasquez fanned two of his own in a 1-2-3 sixth with just 11 pitches. The trio combined for a four-hitter.

“We have all but one (Good) of our pitchers available for the next game,” Peterson said. “It’s a balancing act between not trying to look ahead too much and winning the game you’re playing right now.

“It’s certainly a luxury to have a lot of guys be able to throw, but you also have to play for the game you’re in at the time.”

Peterson surely wasn’t looking past Lathrop, which came from behind to beat Weston Ranch and Tracy American this weekend to advance to Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchup.

Hard-throwing Lathrop pitcher Alex Grajeda settled down after a rough three-run first inning, and he was backed by impressive defensive plays from middle infielders Andy Garcia and Carlos Estrada.

“They made some very good plays out there,” Peterson said. “Their gloves were hot.”

Jake Campbell doubled and was driven in by Estrada’s single in the third to cut into Manteca’s early lead. Esparza’s jack in the fourth kept Lathrop in it with Manteca still ahead, 4-2.

“We came back and won two games, so we knew we were still in the game,” Lathrop coach Dennis Rodriguez said. “This time we got the butt end of it, but that’s OK. We have at least one more to play.

“These guys are pitching, they’re catching, they’re running and they’re hitting — everything they’re supposed to do. I’m happy for them.”

Ricky Flores was 3 for 3 with a run and an RBI to lead Manteca, and Vasquez finished 2 for 3 with two runs. Good ended up 1 for 3 but scored twice and drove in three others.

Lathrop next squares off with Spreckels Park tonight at 5:30 in a do-or-die consolation-bracket contest, while Manteca takes on rival Northgate in the semifinal Friday.

Manteca and Northgate got acquainted during the District 67 Tournament of Champions on June 19. Northgate’s Yankees eliminated the Manteca A’s, 4-0.

“We need to execute better,” Peterson said. “There were a couple difficult spots that we had today, but if we can execute those same plays (on Friday) we’ll be able to compete.”

Northgate 7, Tracy National 3
It was a rematch of the TOC championship round won by Tracy National 4-1 last month.

Northgate’s early 3-0 lead quickly evaporated after Isaiah Blue slugged a two-run homer to knot it up in the bottom of the third inning. But Northgate pitcher Trevor Huntoon buckled down in the rest of his solid 4 2/3-inning start while the offense continued to rap the clutch hits.

“That’s a good Tracy team right there … we just got the better of them today,” Northgate manager Larry Lucchetti said. “Our guys just hit the ball in timely spots.”

Ian Rodriguez hit 2 for 3 with a double and a run to lead Northgate. Brandon Ridgewell hit a solo home run in the third.

With both Northgate and Manteca’s best pitchers available, Friday’s winner’s-bracket semifinal is set up to be a good one.

 “I know a lot about them,” Lucchetti said. “The kids have played with each other before in travel ball and we’re all real good friends, so there are no secrets here.”
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