By DAVE CAMPBELL
TRACY – The Spreckels Park juniors defended their Little League District 6 crown Saturday with a back-and-forth 6-5 win over Amador West-Ione at Monticello School.
“This is a great win,” Spreckels Park coach Jason Cook said. “Amador gave us a great game and it feels awesome to win two in a row.
“Rafael (Diaz) has been my ace all year. He has done his thing on the mound from the regular season all the way until now. When he is on, he is pretty unstoppable.”
And Diaz was unstoppable from the third inning on. After Amador West scored four in the bottom of the third to take a 5-3 lead Diaz clamped down, striking out the last two batters of the inning and retired the next eight batters until he reached his maximum pitch count with two out in the sixth inning. Amador West picked up five hits in the first three innings and that is all Diaz gave up, striking out seven. Jesse Ortiz-Martinez came on to get the save, retiring the last four batters of the game.
“I had to settle in,” Diaz said. “I had to find that strike zone and I was able to get it done.
“It feels great to win two of these in a row.”
Spreckels Park took the lead for good a 6-5 with a three-run fifth inning. Pinch hitter Austin Cook (2 for 2, two RBI) lifted a two-out two-RBI single to tie the game and pinch hitter Tommy Perez plated Cook with a single for the eventual winning run.
Louis Aquila drew a bases-loaded walk in the first inning to put Spreckels Park ahead 1-0. In the third inning, Derrick Kuwada drew a bases-loaded walk – one of 10 walks given up by Amador West – to score Slyder Blyth and Diaz came in on an error of the bat of Steven Eaves for a 3-1 Spreckels Park lead.
Spreckels Park advances to the California Division II All Star Tournament beginning Saturday at Gomes Elementary School in Fremont at 4 p.m.