Maidu Giants claim District 54 TOC title

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Dominic Azzarello allowed one hit threw five innings and withstood a charge from the El Dorado Hills Blue Jays in the sixth, as the Maidu Major Giants won the District 54 TOC title over the Blue Jays, 5-2.

Friday night at Deputy Jeff Mitchell Field in El Dorado Hills, the Blue Jays hoped to win the title on their home field, but the offense struggled to put anything together and four defensive errors equaled the team’s number of hits.

“Errors were the difference,” Blue Jays Manager Bud Carroll said. “We didn’t lose the game in the sixth, we lost it three innings earlier.”

EDH made three errors in the bottom of the third, an inning in which Maidu scored four runs, turning 1-1 tie into a commanding 5-1 lead.

James Handy led off the inning with a double and two batters later with one out, a ground-rule double by Peter Caldera put the Giants in front for good, 2-1. Errors on back-to-back plays led to two more runs for the Giants. Two batters later, a single by Aasa Davidson drove in the fifth and final run.

Through the first five innings, the Blue Jays only had one hit. They scored a run in the top of the first without a hit. Joe Carroll walked, stole second and third, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Bryson Elliott.

The team’s only hit came in the third, when Carroll hit a one-out double, but he was stranded at third base. The team went down in order in the fourth and fifth before they finally rallied in the sixth.

Carroll led off the inning with a double, moved to second on a wild pitch, and then scored on a Giants’ error, making the score 5-2. A bunt single by Tyler Blanton put runners on first and second and brought the tying run to the plate. After the first out, Cade Fair singled to load the bases. Azzarello then struck out the last two batters to end the threat and the game.

“We just wanted to come here and compete, but I figured we had a good chance,” Maidu Manager Larry Caldera said. “In the end, the kids rule the day. We got on a roll late in the season and didn’t look back. We won 11 of our last 12 games.”

Azzarello allowed two runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out nine. Offensively, the Giants had six hits; doubles by Handy and Caldera and singles by Azzarello, Nathan Sperduto, Jayden Rodrigues and Davidson. Azzarello’s hit in the bottom of the first inning, tied the game at one.

Jonah Copley pitched well for the Blue Jays, as he allowed six hits, while striking out four. Offensively, Carroll had a pair of doubles, while Clanton and Fair had singles.

Carroll was proud of his team’s run through the tournament.

“(Assistant coach) Wes (Clanton) said it best. There were 67 teams in this district and we ended up second best,” Carroll said. “I’d rather be first, but we’ll take second.”

Caldera was also proud of his team, which was challenged throughout the tournament.

“I had two coaches tell me that I had the pitching to go deep in this tournament,” Caldera said. “You never know what will happen. In the quarterfinals, we played the other Maidu team and won 12-9. That’s the sixth time we played them and we split the six games. Then last night, we had an epic battle with our rival Lakeside. We were almost out of it, but Peter hit a home run to tie the game in the sixth, and we scored two runs in the seventh to win it, 3-1. This team has a bond and everyone bought in. I figured after we won the first two games we had a chance.”