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SPLL seniors season end with controversy
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A marathon game marred by controversy left a sour taste in the mouths of the Spreckels Park Senior players, as Turlock National came from behind to eliminate them 5-4 in nine innings in consolation action of the Little League Section 6 Senior All-Star Tournament on Monday at Linden High.

With a runner on second and two out in the bottom of the fifth inning and Spreckels Park clinging to a 1-0 lead, Turlock National belted a single to right. Tyler Holmes fielded the ball and got it to catcher Jaden Pina, who was bowled over by the Turlock National runner and had the ball knocked the ball loose. Rather then being called out and ejected as should have occurred by rule, the runner scored, the batter ended up on third in the confusion and a Spreckels Park coach was ejected. The runner on third eventually scored.

“I think the toughest thing to swallow at the end of the day was that the head ump was insulted by asking to simply confirm the rule in the rule book,” Spreckels Park coach Fernando Maestas said in an email. “After all, the rule is new and deserves attention on such a play, especially on a throw coming from right field to the plate. You would think that everyone is familiar to the Buster Posey Rule living near the Bay and all … and then one of our coaches gets kicked out arguing our case and that even stings even more.

“I think Jaden Pina handled himself like a pro regardless of being busted up. That was the biggest collision I have ever seen in person, in my entire life and he owned the spot even more after. What a tough kid.”

Spreckels Park bounced back in the sixth inning to tie the game at 2-2 when Jesse Babauta (2 for 4, RBI, three stolen bases) squeezed in Rudy Cervantez (2 for 4, double, two RBI run). Babauta stole second and third but was left stranded on third at the end of the frame.

In the bottom of the inning, Turlock went ahead 3-2, setting up a do-or-die situation for Spreckels Park in the seventh inning. Down to its last out, Spreckels Park responded when Robert Karbowski (1 for 2, run) was beaned after fouling off six consecutive pitches. Karbowski took second on a passed ball and raced to third on Jesse Ochoa’s single to left, leaving runners at the corners.

Abraham Velasco came in to run for Ochoa (2 for 4) and stole second, representing the go-ahead run.  Facing an 0-2 count, Cervantez blasted his third offering to the right-field fence for a double, scoring Karbowski and Velasco for a 4-3 Spreckels Park lead. 

Turlock National tied the game in the bottom of the seventh and won it in the ninth, ending the game just shy of 4 hours.

 “I am very proud of this team and our town should be too,” Maestas said. “ If we won this week, we were going to compete for the Northern California title, plain and simple. My hat goes off to all the top plays we were a part of because at the end of the day, this is the off-season for high school and getting as far as we did merits a successful off-season at that.”