TRACY — Lathrop 13-year-old All-Star starting pitcher Gabriel Rodriguez had little trouble keeping the Northgate bats in check through four innings.
But then back-to-back walks spelled the end for Rodriguez in the fifth as Northgate pulled away with a 16-5 win Saturday in the opening round of the District 67 Junior All-Star Tournament.
Lathrop jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead after its first at bat, capitalizing on a Northgate error with an RBI double from Daniel Duenez and a two run scoring single from Johnny Rojo. Lathrop’s bats would fall silent over the next four innings.
Northgate pushed across its first run in the second when Baily Simions cut Northgate’s deficit to 3-1. Northgate would squeak across another in the fourth, as Ryan Matthews walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored when an errant pickoff throw to third got away.
Things shifted to Northgate’s favor in the fifth when walks left Northgate with bases loaded and no outs. Johnny Blackwell put together a solid at bat, fouling off several pitches before putting the ball in play to the Lathrop shortstop who could not find the handle.
The run would spark a Northgate offense that had otherwise been stagnant, as the club erupted for seven runs in the inning. Northgate would keep it coming in the sixth, adding another six runs to put things out of reach for good.
Adrian Aflete came in and collected a pair of hits in his two trips to the plate, going 2-for-2 with a double and a single and driving in a run. Matthews came around to score twice for Northgate.
Starting pitcher Jake Gonzalez helped his cause scoring a run in Northgate’s pivotal half of the fifth.
Gonzalez went five-plus innings for Northgate, maneuvering out of trouble in two of his five innings of work. Lathrop was only able to muster any real success on Gonzalez in their first at bat.
Northgate will advance in the winner’s bracket and meet up with Spreckels Park Tuesday at 5 p.m. Lathrop will be off until Thursday when they face Manteca, who fell to Spreckels Park. That game time is also scheduled for 5 p.m.
Spreckels Park 12 Manteca 4
In other tournament action, Spreckels Park cruised to an easy victory over Manteca, taking the first-round matchup 14-4 Saturday in Tracy.
Josh Stevens stole three bases, stroked a double and came around to score twice for Spreckels Park, while teammate Manuel DeAvila also scored twice.
Manteca got a 2-for-3 effort from Sam Rohovit who came around to score twice in a losing effort.