STOCKTON — Northgate’s Zac McCasland took the wind out of Foothill’ sails Tuesday, and teammate Lucas Krenz sunk the ship in a 9-2 Northgate win for the Little League Section 6 Junior championship at Bear Creek High School.
With Northgate leading 5-1 going into the fifth, Foothill of Valley Springs got one across in the top of the frame and loaded the bases with two outs when McCasland snuck in from his shortstop position and took a throw from pitcher Anthony Flores to pick off the runner at second to end the threat.
Thanks in part to two outstanding fielding plays by McCasland in the sixth and seventh innings, Foothill did not get another base runner following the fifth-inning pickoff.
“He wasn’t paying attention,” McCasland said of the pickoff. “He wasn’t ready for it. He was flat and sleeping. And we got him and we picked him off.”
Krenz (triple, three RBI, run) came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth and ripped a bases-clearing triple into left field, plating Tyler Looney (RBI), Luke Abrew (two runs) and Nolan Calmes. Krenz came across the plate on a wild pitch to cap the final score.
“It was a high pitch,” Krenz said of the triple. “I just reached up and hit it off the end of the bat and got lucky and poked it out in left field.
“He thought it was going in and he lost it in the sun.”
Krenz made a circus catch in the fourth inning and converted it into a double play, ranging to his right from center field and chasing down a fly ball which at first popped out of his glove. He recovered, saw the runner off of second and fired the ball into Krenz for the double play.
“I was thinking I was going to have to run for that one because I knew the left fielder wasn’t going to be able to get to it,” Krenz said. “I was standing on my toes like coach tells me to every practice.
“I ran over and got the ball but I didn’t catch it with two hands at first. It popped out of my glove and I had to go after it a second time. I just got lucky, I got the ball and I threw it in to second for the double play.”
Flores picked up the complete-game win for Northgate, a rarity in the pitch-count era. Flores struck out five and allowed three hits. In addition to stellar defensive support from Krenz and McCasland, second baseman Nolan Calmes snagged a screaming line drive for the second out in the third inning.
Abrew led off the third with a single followed by a walk to Krenz and McCasland being hit by a pitch to load the bases. John Perazzo (RBI, run) singled in Abrew and Evan Jeffery (RBI, run) singled in Krenz. Perazzo and Jeffery scored on an error off the bat of Flores to make the score 5-1.
Flores led off the second with a single and worked his way to third before being sacrificed in by Looney.
“It was a good game,” Northgate manager Jared Looney said. “We have talked to them this whole tournament about coming out and playing for seven innings, not letting up and not getting comfortable.
“They fought hard for seven innings and they did a good job the whole tournament.”
Northgate moves on to the NorCal State Championship on Saturday in Salinas at 4 p.m.