SAN LORENZO — Larry Lucchetti has called it the deepest all-star team Northgate Little League has ever fielded at the 11-12-year-old major division.
But its run through the postseason wasn’t a deep one.
Northgate is two and done after succumbing to Newark’s late-inning spurt Sunday, losing 5-4 to drop out of the California Section 3 Tournament at San Lorenzo Ballpark.
“I expected this team to do better,” Lucchetti said. “The effort was there, it just didn’t happen for us. We never really saw the full potential of this team through the six games that we played in all-stars.”
Going into Saturday’s first-round contest, which resulted in a 19-12 victory by Hillsborough, Northgate was coming off a District 67 championship run – the first in league history at majors.
Northgate appeared to be on its way to victory Sunday with ace hurler Jake Pruitt protecting a 4-0 lead after three innings.
One swing of the bat by Omar Cruz changed the game for Newark in the top of the fourth. Behind 0-2 in the count, Cruz crushed a two-run homer to get his club on board.
Pruitt hit his maximum pitch count in the fifth, when Newark took advantage of both the pitching change and an error to steal the lead on Christian Letuna’s bases-clearing single.
Pruitt lasted 4 2/3 innings and struck out nine.
“We got good pitching from Jake Pruitt, we’re just not stringing enough hits together when we needed them and making untimely errors,” Lucchetti said.
Northgate had a shot at extending the game in the bottom of the sixth, when Ian Rodriguez reached on an error and the speedy Chris Ah Yo replaced him on first base.
Kyle Emerson belted a double to the fence, but Ah Yo was thrown out at third for the second out. Andrew Ruiz sent a solid shot toward left, but grounded out to end the game.
“Their center fielder made an excellent throw, and Andrew Ruiz hit the ball hard in the end,” Lucchetti said. “We just never seemed to get the breaks in this tournament.”
Lucas Garcia was 2 for 3 to lead Northgate, and he hit his third home run in his third postseason contest. Isaiah Gordon added an RBI double.
“It was a good group of kids,” Lucchetti said. “It was joy to have them, I just wish we had more time together.”