The Manteca Little League Dodgers certainly earned their spot in the District 67 Tournament of Champions.
They claimed their league title Friday at Lincoln Park, fending off a last-inning charge from the top-seeded Marlins for a 5-4 victory.
The Dodgers, seeded second, dropped their league tournament opener last week and won three straight to reach the title round. They forced the “if” game Thursday with a 6-1 win over the Marlins.
To their credit, the Marlins went down swinging in the championship rematch.
Trailing by four runs, they put together five consecutive two-out hits from Dane Williams, Julian Oliveri (RBI double), Kai Masudi (RBI), Josh Husband and Ethan Freitas (RBI). The Marlins had the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position before Dodgers reliever Carson Sablan struck out the final batter.
The Dodgers managed to scratch across a run in every turn at the plate while Brayden Hartt had a strong start from the pitcher’s mound. He needed just 38 pitches to get through three hitless innings, finishing with three strikeouts before getting replaced by Sablan.
Sablan drove in Brixton Ortiz (walked) with a bloop single for the Dodgers’ first run in the opening inning. Sablan finished 2 for 3, adding a triple and a run in the third.
Luis Rivera was also 2 for 3, legging out a pair of doubles while knocking in a what ended up being an important insurance run in the fifth.
Williams and Husband belted two hits apiece to lead the Marlins.
The District 67 TOC begins June 16 in Patterson.