STOCKTON – Held scoreless through five innings, Manteca sent 14 batters to the plate in the sixth inning Sunday and exploded for nine runs on the way to a 9-2 win over Spreckels Park in the championship game of the Little League District 67 Juniors All Star Tournament at Paul Weston Park.
“The kids just never gave up,” Manteca coach Kevin Alavezos said. “They were down two runs and they stayed relaxed and continued to play the game – they didn’t press.”
Briggs Alavezos got the ball rolling for Manteca when he reached base leading the frame off on a strike-three passed ball. A single from Matt Dunham (3 for 4, RBI, triple) and a walk from Christian Tonna (four walks, run) loaded the bases and following a strikeout the dominoes started to fall – all with two outs.
Running for Briggs Alavezos, Kevin Thornburg scored on a groundout by River Weahunt. Tyler Garlets tied the game when he singled in Dunham and Nate Schatmeier singled to load the bases again.
This set the stage for a two-RBI double by Ryan Zimmerman with the next five batters reaching base, capped by Isaac Searcy’s two-RBI single.
The wind helped momentum shift Manteca’s way. With a Spreckels Park runner on first in the bottom of the fifth and no out, Manteca center fielder Dunham had a hard time fielding a fly ball in the blustery winds. The ball fell to the ground but Dunham was able to recover and force the runner on first out before he could get to second.
The batter thought the ball was caught, so second baseman Tonna got the ball to Schatmeier at first for a double play. The next Spreckels Park batter grounded out to end the frame, giving way to the monster Manteca sixth.
“The double play was huge,” Kevin Alavezos said. “It caught them off guard and our guys capitalized on that. Baseball is a momentum game and that slight shift was a big momentum builder for us.”
Spreckels Park scored its two runs in the fourth inning. Jesse Ortiz-Martinez reached on an error to lead off the inning and scored on a triple by Steven Eaves (2 for 3, triple, RBI). Eaves scored on Kenny Kuwata’s single.
Manteca travels to San Andreas on Thursday to face the District 8 champion on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in opening-round action of the Section 6 tournament.