Bleach Boys stage comeback tour: Woodcreek major all-stars win District 54By: Trevor Horn■Press Tribune Correspondent
The last time Woodcreek Little League's Aiden Martinez hit a home run in a championship finale, it was all for nothing.
This time around, it meant everything.
The major all-star hit a blast to right field for a walk-off homer on the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh inning to give Woodcreek a 5-4 victory over Lakeside in the District 54 championships Tuesday.
Martinez belted a grand slam late in the Tournament of Champions final on June 18, but his Woodcreek Angels still fell 8-6 to the Folsom American Twins. On Tuesday, his timing was perfect.
Leading 4-3 in the top of the sixth inning, Lakeside tied the game on a solo homerun by Taitan Capel off Woodcreek starting pitcher Zachery Watari. It forced extra innings after Woodcreek was unable to score in the bottom half of the sixth.
With Lakeside retired in the top half of the seventh, Woodcreek manager Eric Gums told Martinez, who was 0-3 before the at-bat, he had the green light on the first pitch before laying down a bunt on a the next one.
“We told him we were going to give him one chance to swing away,” Woodcreek manager Eric Gums said. “And boy did he get a hold of that.”
Martinez, who goes by the nickname “Big Cat” reflected on the win with poise beyond his years.
“It’s a huge momentum builder going into sections,” Martinez said right after his teammates gave him a victory bath of ice water. “That’s a lifetime of memories that just happened.”
Woodcreek will open the Section 4 tournament against District 11 at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Phoebe Hearst Elementary in East Sacramento.
Woodcreek lost to Folsom American in second round of the tournament to move into the loser’s bracket of the district tournament. Gums knew that his team would need to win seven times in the next 10 days. And they did just that.
Woodcreek went on to outscore opponents 79-15 in the first seven games, including an 11-4 win over Lakeside Monday to force Tuesday's “if” game.
Lakeside scored first in the top of the second inning as T.J. Patterson led off the inning with a double and scored off a fielding error.
Woodcreek responded in the bottom of the second on a two-run homerun by Jason Hanson before adding two more runs in the third on a two-run double by James Courshon to force 4-1 lead.
Matt Soran hit a solo homer in the fourth for Lakeside and teammate Aiden Rosenthal did the same in the fifth to cut the lead to 4-3.
Courshan struck out four batters in 1 ⅔ innings of relief and earned the win for Woodcreek.
It was a fitting way to end a fantastic season for District 54 major division teams, though the hardship fell on Lakeside.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” Lakeside manager Tom Northam said. “I couldn’t ask for a better game to go out on.
"Just wish we were on the other side.”
The win marks the fourth consecutive district title for the same Woodcreek kids who are also the three-time defending state champions at the previous three levels.
Follow Trevor Horn on Twitter, @TrevHorn.