SALIDA — Steven Crescini hit the big three-run bomb to put Manteca Little League’s 10-11-year-old all-stars ahead, and birthday boy Dylan Konieczka was stellar in 3 1/3 innings of relief to anchor a well-played 4-2 victory over Spreckels Park Monday at Salida Park.
While they did their part to get Manteca into the third round of the District 67 All-Star Tournament consolation bracket, Chris Stevens was no doubt one of several heroes.
With Spreckels already up 2-0 in the top of the third frame and threatening to blow it open with the bases loaded, Stephen Halleck launched what was a sure-fire base-clearing knock toward the center-field fence.
But Stevens tracked it beautifully, doing his best Willie Mays impersonation as he recorded the third out with an over-the-shoulder catch on the run.
“Saved the game right there,” Manteca coach Rick Mittman said. “If Chris wouldn’t have stopped that it would have been a whole different ballgame. That stopped their momentum and turned the game around for us.”
Stevens wasn’t done yet.
Spreckels Park ace Jacob Souza was downright impressive in mowing down Manteca’s lineup. He started off throwing 15 straight strikes and had a perfect game along with eight strikeouts by the time he squared off with Stevens the second time around in the bottom of the fourth.
Stevens broke up Souza’s perfect game with a five-pitch walk, and Konieczka, who celebrated his 12th birthday, belted the first of Manteca’s two hits to put two runners on with one out. Crescini blasted hit No. 2 with the emphatic three-run blow to left center. Souza otherwise pitched masterfully, completing his two-hit gem with 12 strikeouts.
“I needed to get a hit to score some runs. That’s all I was thinking about, just score some runs,” Crescini said.
Drew Zanotto kept the rally alive by reaching on an error and eventually scored on a wild pitch for the insurance run.
“It only took one swing of the bat, and here we are,” Mittman wsaid.
The rest was up to Konieczka, who pitched his way out of two bases-loaded jams to record the win. He struck out the side in order in the fourth and fanned seven batters in 3 1/3 innings in relief.
“He’s our man. He’s our guy that shuts ‘em down, and that’s what he did,” Mittman said.
Zack Derossett knocked in Colton Tarp with a sacrifice fly to right in the second inning to score Spreckels Park’s first run. Cody Justis drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home Leo Soto and double the lead an inning later. Manteca will look to continue its season Thursday at 6 p.m.
Lathrop 8 W. Ranch 7
In Tracy Saturday, Lathrop won a home-run derby to knock off its neighboring rivals.
Derek Gordon had two jacks for Weston Ranch, but Lathrop answered with four during a torrid fifth inning from Jared Holzer, Alex Grajeda, Miguel Castellanos and Robert Esparza.
Jake Campbell and Castellanos also had doubles for Lathrop.
Lathrop 3 Tracy Am 2
On Sunday, Lathrop played its way into winner’s bracket quarterfinals, where they will meet Manteca Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., behind a strong combined pitching effort from Jake Campbell and Holzer.
Ernesto Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly to score Jacob Nunes was the deciding run. Nunes earlier singled in Holzer (leadoff double) in the third inning. Carlos Estrada got Lathrop on board by stealing home.
To contact Jonamar Jacinto, e-mail email@example.com, or call (209) 249-3538.