The Spreckels Park 11-12-year-old All-Stars are in the driver’s seat to capture the Little League District 67 Tournament banner.
They held on to top Manteca 8-6 in the winners-bracket semifinal Thursday at Lincoln Park. Manteca can still take the district crown but will need to win three straight starting with tonight’s consolation semifinal against Tracy American. The championship round is set for Saturday morning at 10 with the “if necessary” game scheduled for Sunday at noon.
Players from both leagues previously met in the District 67 Tournament of Champions with Manteca prevailing.
Jesse Ortiz-Martinez anchored the Spreckels Park victory, pitching 3 2/3 shutout innings including six strikeouts against four hits and two walks. He was replaced with his pitch count at 57 after experiencing elbow soreness. Ortiz-Martinez was also 1 for 2 offensively with three runs scored.
He was given plenty of run support early on. Frankie Vela smacked a run-scoring shot up the middle, and Colby Gatty knocked in two more during Spreckels Park’s five-run rally in the bottom of the first inning.
Vela drove in another on a groundout in the second, giving Spreckels a commanding 7-0 lead. Ortiz-Martinez plated the team’s final run in the fourth when he reached on an infield single and advanced three times on wild pitches.
Manteca went down swinging. Isaiah Perez, Ethan Johnson and Tyler Kiser keyed the comeback attempt with their efforts as relief pitchers. Manteca used up five hurlers in the contest, and they combined to scatter just five hits.
Manteca’s offense finally broke through in the fifth, when it rallying for all six of its runs thanks to three errors. Kiser (2 for 4) sparked the barrage with an RBI double, and Vince Hernandez later drove in Manteca’s final two runs with a triple to deep right.
Steven Eaves was called upon to close it out for Spreckels Park and did so with no incident, retiring four consecutive batters including two strikeouts for the save.
Tracy American 4,
Gary Alexander tossed a three-hit gem for Northgate, but two unearned runs ultimately did the local all-stars in. Alexander fired five strikeouts while issuing only two walks.
Tracy American jumped ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the first and was aided by a two-out infield error. Another batter reached on a dropped strikeout and eventually scored.
Eric Morales plated the equalizer in the fourth, but Northgate was unable to muster additional runs despite roping three hits in the frame.
Tracy American took the lead for good in the fifth when Matthew Giuliacci drove in Thomas Lamadrid, who led off with a bunt single, on a groundout. Blake Ornellas singled home the insurance run. Ornellas (3 IP, one hit, four Ks) was also the winning pitcher.
Tracy National 9,
Spreckels Park 8
Spreckels Park came up short in what was a continuation of Wednesday’s winners-bracket semifinal that was called to darkness.
Tracy appeared to have it in the bag in the sixth when Justin Schober cleared the left-field fence for a grand slam and an 8-2 lead. Spreckels Park countered with five of its own runs in the bottom half. The rally was powered by Brock Willenbrink’s bases-clearing triple.
Tracy National scored a much-needed insurance run in the seventh.
Spreckels Park awaits the Tracy American-Weston Ranch winner in Saturday’s consolation semifinal.
Tracy American 5,
Northgate was an inning away from securing its spot in the title round, but Carson Cripe crushed a three-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the sixth.
Northgate next plays in the consolation-bracket semifinal on Sunday against intracity rival Manteca or Salida.