TRACY — The Manteca Little League 11-12-year-old All-Stars were two outs away from the District 67 title, but a stubborn Tracy American Team turned a game-tying run in the sixth inning into a season-saving 5-3 eight-inning win.
Tracy opened the pivotal sixth with a leadoff walk, but followed it up with a harmless pop-out for the first out. Another walk led to a base hit, cutting a two-run lead to one and shifting the game’s intensity to peak levels.
An infield error led to the game-tying run, but Manteca would hold off its demise by inducing an inning-ending double play when a Tracy base runner was called out after a lengthy discussion amongst the umpires revealed the player left the base too early.
Offensively, Manteca was unable to get anything going after an RBI flyout from Alex Gouveia in the fourth put Manteca up 3-1. Manteca’s bats was silent over the next three innings, leaving Tracy one too many opportunities to keep its season alive.
The eighth inning would be the final blow dealt to Manteca. Tracy led off the inning with what looked to be a clean single, only to end up past the Manteca outfield putting the hitter on third base. A RBI groundout would put Tracy up 4-3, but a double, single and another RBI groundout would leave Manteca with too steep a climb.
Ferrin Manuleleua reached on a fielder’s choice and then got himself into scoring position. A great outfield assist from left field would cut Manuleleua down at the plate, and send a Tracy club that thought its season was over into pandemonium.
Gouveia finished the contest 1-for-3 with a run and a RBI, while teammate Jacob Moon was 1-for-4 with a RBI. Manuleleua was 2-for-4 but reached base three times, and Dylan Gross drove in a run with a base hit in the third.
Ryan Ward started for Manteca on the mound, and was remarkable through four innings of work. Ward struck out six and only surrendered one hit for Manteca, keeping Tracy in check in each of his four innings taking the mound.
Zach Chamberlain spelled Ward and got Tracy out in order in the fifth, but the leadoff walk in the sixth inning would spell trouble.
Manteca has put themselves in a must win situation at 5 p.m., with a matchup between the same two clubs deciding the district title.