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Northgate beats rival; Spreckels stays alive

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Andrew Ruiz slaps mitts with Northgate Little League teammate Nick Lucchetti after turning a huge double play in the bottom of the sixth inning against Manteca Friday at Jefferson School in Tracy.


POSTED July 11, 2009 2:31 a.m.
TRACY — Chris Ah Yo set up Northgate’s 3-1 victory over friendly rival Manteca with a run-scoring triple, a sequence that was punctuated by him scooting home on a throwing error, in the third inning during Friday’s Little League District 67 Major Division All-Star Tournament winner’s-bracket semifinal at Jefferson School.

Jake Pruitt kept Northgate ahead with a dominant performance in which he struck out 12 and gave up only one hit, using just 82 pitches in doing so.

But it was second baseman Andrew Ruiz who saved the game.

With the tying run, Chuck Good, at the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning and leadoff batter Ryan Vazquez on base via walk, Ruiz grabbed a sharp line drive and quickly fired it to first for the force out to complete the double play.

Ruiz put the game on ice by fielding a softly-hit grounder one pitch later.

“I was depending on my defense,” Pruitt said. “I was hoping that Chuck wouldn’t get a hold of it but knew that if he did it was going somewhere.

“I was scared. I was thinking, ‘Thank you Andrew.’

Pruitt helped his own cause during Northgate’s three-run third. He smacked a two-out double to the right-center field wall and was driven in by Nick Lucchetti’s single to left. Lucchetti finished 2 for 2 with a triple in the fifth.

“We had good hitting all through the lineup,” Northgate manager Larry Lucchetti said. “There are various kids hitting, it’s not just one or two carrying us.”

Even when Northgate wasn’t hitting, it still had key at-bats early on.

Manteca’s hard-throwing, southpaw ace Ryan Vasquez had seven strikeouts but labored through 20-pitch innings. Dillon Lauborough relieved him with two outs in the fourth after Vasquez nearly reached his maximum pitch count with 84.

“That was huge,” coach Lucchetti said. “The kids were patient today and went deep in the count. And when they got hits they were timely.”

It was patience at the plate that got Manteca’s lone run in the fifth, as Dominick Pisano drew a bases-loaded walk. Pruitt walked three batters in his only shaky inning in which he delivered 28 pitches, and another reached on an infield error.

Ricky Flores rapped Manteca’s only hit of the game with a single to left in the second frame.

“Bottom line is that we need to be able to put the bat on the ball,” Manteca manager Aaron Peterson said. “When you’re not hitting you’re not putting yourself in a good position. We put up a good effort in the fifth and sixth, it just wasn’t enough.”

The stage is now set with all three Little League clubs from Manteca representing the last teams standing in the double-elimination tournament.

Manteca meets Spreckels Park in the consolation-bracket semifinal at 11 a.m. today, while Northgate awaits the winner in Sunday’s first of possibly two championship-round contests.

“A lot of our kids from the Manteca teams have played together outside of Little League,” Peterson said. “It’s fun to have the three Manteca teams left.”

Spreckels Park 4, Tracy National 2
Revenge was exacted by Spreckels Park, which fell to Tracy National in last year’s 10-11-year-old all-star tournament title game.

Tyler Moss handcuffed Tracy National’s explosive lineup to the tune of eight strikeouts to two walks and three hits, throwing just 86 pitches in his complete-game masterpiece.

Spreckels, which has won four straight in the consolation bracket, was powered by a two home-run effort by Daniel Alejo, who clubbed another jack in a 9-0 victory over Lathrop Thursday.

Ryan Bergman doubled and was driven home by Hunter Johnson’s RBI single. Johnson plated the final run of Spreckels Park’s three-run third.
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