TURLOCK — Scoring early, scoring often and making no errors is a pretty good game plan, and that is exactly what Northgate did Tuesday in a 10-2 win over Turlock American in the championship game of the Little League 9-10 Section 6 All-Star Tournament at Turlock American Little League’s Julien Park.
After beating Turlock American 7-4 on Saturday, Northgate lost to Turlock American 8-6 Tuesday in a mistake-laden outing, setting up Wednesday winner-take-all affair.
“We played them twice already and I thought we were the better team — we just had to play like it,” Northgate manager Mark Grabowski said. “When we lost to them, we gave up, I don’t know, four, five, six or seven errors. It cost us. It cost us pitch count and it cost us the game.”
Northgate set the tone Wednesday with a five-hit four-run first inning. Ashton Heath led off the frame with a walk and scored on a single by Nolan Mix (3 for 4, RBI, three runs). Carson Sanders (3 for 4, RBI, two runs) batted in Mix, Blake Mount singled in Fernando Alaniz (3 for 4, two RBI, double) and Diego Gonzales (2 for 3, home run, double, RBI) had his first extra-base hit of the night with an RBI double, scoring Sanders.
After Turlock American narrowed the gap to 5-2 in the top of the third, Gonzales slammed the door in the bottom of the inning, hitting a two-run home run, scoring Noah Calmes to make the score 8-2. Calmes (2 for 2, RBI, run) singled in Sanders earlier in the frame.
Where Gonzales had the big hit, Alaniz had the big bat. Alaniz hit the fence twice, one on an RBI double in the second that scored Mix and Alaniz had an RBI single in the fifth, scoring Heath. Mix had the other run in the two-run fifth, singling and then coming in on a wild pitch.
Alaniz pitched the first four innings, giving up two runs in the third and allowing four hits, striking out five and walking just two. Sy relieved Alaniz in the fifth, and after giving up a leadoff walk retired six in a row with one strikeout and the other five batters never got the ball out of the infield.
Northgate travels to Joe Wagner Field in Larkspur on Saturday for the NorCal State Championship, participating in opening ceremonies at 8 a.m. and then playing at 5 p.m.
“This is big,” Grabowski said. “This is big for Northgate. I don’t think they have been this far in a long, long, time.
“We got great support from our board and our parents have been fantastic. We are just excited. We have a special group of kids and we want to keep them going.”