Woodcreek’s 9-10 All Stars outlast El Dorado Hills in District 54 title game

Woodcreek advances to Section 4 tournament, which begins July 16 at Bill Conlin fields in Sacramento’s District 7
By: Steven Wilson,
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The District 54 Little League championships are more like an endurance race than a sprint. 

Woodcreek’s 9-10 All Stars squad showcased impeccable stamina this postseason as they strung together five wins en route to the District 54 Little League title thanks to a 9-7 victory over El Dorado Hills Sunday afternoon. 

Three of the team’s wins came against Maidu, Ponderosa and Lakeside, but the team began and ended the tournament with victories over El Dorado Hills — a team that fought back from elimination to earn a shot at the banner.

“This was huge,” Woodcreek’s manager Gary Culverson explained after Sunday’s win. “They’ve battled all year, and they’ve put in a lot of work and sacrificed their time. When we first started, we struggled a lot — they weren’t hitting the ball well, we weren’t pitching well and our defense wasn’t the greatest. 

“But they kept battling and working and I’m proud of these boys,” Culverson added as tears began to form in his eyes. “We have to keep working hard because it’s going to get tougher. But I have all the faith in the world in these guys. They work hard and I’m super proud of them.”

With the victory, Woodcreek advances to this week’s Section 4 tournament, which begins Saturday, July 16 at the Bill Conlin fields in Sacramento’s District 7. 

The team, which did not lose once during the district bracket, will need similarly impressive performances in the coming weeks if they hope to reach the state tournament, but that's not so impractical. The team has a deep rotation, strong hitters and sound fundamentals. If they can stay hot, they'll go far.

“They’re a tough team to beat,” El Dorado Hills Manager Wes Clanton admitted. “I think we’ll be facing these guys next year for sure.”

Although his squad was eliminated from the postseason with this weekend’s loss, Clanton nearly saw his team pull off a miraculous comeback and rally from an 8-0 deficit after two innings. Following six runs from Woodcreek in the first inning — thanks to a trio of doubles from Coy Clements, Ryan Le and Dylan Perault and five combined RBIs — and two more in the top of the second, Clanton’s team smacked three homers to pull within two runs. 

“We lost our first game to these guys before we won five straight,” Clanton summed up. “We played four straight days of baseball, and they never quit. As you saw (here), we were down 8-0, battled back all game, settled down — we made some errors in the first inning — and made it close at the end. I’m so proud of them for what they’ve done.”

Joe Carroll connected on a two-run bomb in the third inning and Jake Fields registered a pair of homers — one in the fourth and the other in the sixth — to keep the game within reach. But that was as close as it got.

“I just saw a good pitch, I attacked it and put a good swing on it,” Fields explained. “I was super excited. I thought we had a good chance to win, but in the end we fell just short.”

Despite giving up a three runs in the last inning, Woodcreek settled down, and locked in for the final outs and celebrated the 9-7 victory. 

“I loved every part of it — it was so fun — just being able to hit a home run in district championships was awesome,” said Woodcreek’s starting pitcher Dylan Green, who threw 69 pitches and added one of the game's four homers. “I was just trying to help my team earn this victory and I'm so happy we won."

Throughout the tournament, both squads showcased good sportsmanship and that continued after the game Sunday as both teams posed for a photo together. Woodcreek then moved to the outfield for more celebratory photos before a ceremonial water toss at home plate for the players, but Green — the team’s ace — made sure to chase his coach and soak him as well. 

Woodcreek will look to continue its win streak Saturday in the section tournament.