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Capture the flag
Manteca all-stars ride late surge to District 67 title
Players and coaches from Manteca Little Leagues minor-division all-star team celebrate with their newly-acquired District 67 Tournament championship banner Thursday in Tracy. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

TRACY — Zach Chamberlain got the final out of Manteca Little League’s 15-5 victory over Tracy American with a nice throw from the third-base side of the infield.

Somehow he ended up in deep right field moments later with 11 teammates piled on top of him.

That is how Manteca’s minor-division all-stars celebrated their District 67 championship run at Jefferson School’s Pikas Field on Thursday.

With Tracy teams claiming district banners in the other three divisions (11-year-old, majors, juniors), Manteca’s 9-10-year-old squad is the last area team standing.

Up next is the Northern California Section 3 Tournament hosted by San Ramon Little League of District 57 at Los Cerros School in Alamo. Manteca opens with the District 15 champion this Saturday at 2 p.m.

Thursday’s contest was the rubber match between Manteca and Tracy American. Last Sunday, Manteca rolled into the championship round with a 14-3 win over Tracy American, which got even Wednesday in a 5-3, eight-inning thriller.

In the finale, Manteca did it with five-run outbursts in the fifth and sixth innings combined with a clutch pitching effort from reliever Bobby McConlogue.

Tracy American was held to just five hits but was aided early on by free passes, as Manteca’s first two pitchers combined for nine walks.

McConlogue took the mound with one out in the bottom of the fourth and gave up an inherited run to Christopher Bronson, whose infield single tied the score at 5. Three of Tracy’s five knocks didn’t reach the outfield.

McConlogue settled down and threw 2 1/3 shutout innings, giving up three hits and two walks while striking out one for the win.

Manteca, on the other hand, had little trouble finding the gaps in Tracy American’s defense and clubbed 16 hits.

Four hits came in succession in the sixth and final inning. Chamberlain reached with an infield single, Alex Gouveia drove in two with a ground-rule double to left center and Jacob Moon and Ryan Ward — the eighth and ninth batters of the frame — followed with one-run singles.

Gouveia was once again the team’s sparkplug from the top of the order, going 4 for 5 with two doubles, three runs and three driven in.

Moon was 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs; Ward finished 3 for 5 with four RBIs and a run; Isaac Maldonado went 2 for 3 with an RBI double and a run; and Chamberlain ended up 2 for 2 with three runs.

While McConlogue was supported well by the offense, the defense also came through in key moments.

After batting around in the fifth and taking a 10-5 lead, Tracy American threatened to answer in the bottom half with two runners on base and one out. Tracy’s Daniel Chartier reached on a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners with now two outs, but No. 3 hitter Carlos Vasquez loomed in the on-deck circle.

Chartier attempted to steal second two pitches later, but Manteca catcher Ferrin Manulelua fired it to Gouveia, who applied an impressive sweep tag after stretching toward the third-base side for a backhanded catch and stretching the other direction to make the out.

It was a big play that helped build Manteca’s late-inning momentum while effectively breaking the spirit of Tracy American.