EDH Major All-Stars reach title game of Section 4 tournamentBy: Matt Long
Kids, don’t let an adult tell you Skittles aren’t important.
Without the team’s favorite candy in the dugout Saturday, the El Dorado Hills Little League Major All-Stars dropped a 3-1 decision to West Sacramento, suddenly finding themselves in the loser’s bracket of the Section 4 Tournament being held at Roseville High School.
With the Skittles back in the dugout Sunday, EDH defeated Arden Park 12-3 to advance to the championship round. On Monday, the EDH Major All-Stars have a rematch with West Sacramento at 7 p.m., needing to beat them twice to claim the Section 4 championship. If El Dorado Hills wins Monday night, the final game will be played on Tuesday.
The Skittles might have played a role in the team’s mojo Saturday, but perhaps a bigger part of it was the pitching of J.P. Smith II, who silenced the team’s bats, allowing only two singles, while striking out nine. EDH didn’t have many opportunities to score and when they did, they couldn’t take advantage. With two runners on and one out in the third inning, EDH’s Matt Oseguera popped out to first base and then Smith II struck out Reese Catchings.
With runners on first and second with two outs in the fourth, Smith II struck out Jackson Westbrook to end the threat.
El Dorado Hills scored its only run in the fifth inning, but could have had more. With runners on second and third with one out, reliever Jake Tandy struck out Catchings for the second out before his own error when he dropped a chopper by Blake Jacobs allowed a run to score. Tandy then got Jenner Howard to ground out to end the inning.
West Sac scored two runs off Catchings in the second inning on two walks, a single, a ground out double play and a passed ball.
After allowing a run to EDH in the top of the fifth inning, Tandy got it right back in the bottom of the inning when he led off with a home run to make the final score 3-1.
“The kids took it better than I did,” EDH Manager Jim Bazor said. “I didn’t get much sleep.”
It turned out well for El Dorado Hills, as they broke a 3-3 tie by with Arden Park Sunday morning by scoring nine unanswered runs to win,12-3. Back-to-back home runs in the first inning by Catchings and Jacobs put the team up early 2-0. Cade Gargani made it 3-0 with a RBI single in the second inning.
In the top of the fourth, however, Arden Park tied the game at three with a three-run home run, but couldn’t keep the momentum. In the bottom of the inning, four consecutive hits from El Dorado Hills put them in front 5-3, as Joe Carroll had an RBI double and Gargani followed with an RBI single. A sacrifice fly from Catchings made it 6-4, and two more runs on wild pitches made it 8-4 before the inning was over.
Catchings and Howard added RBI hits in the fifth inning, while the team’s final run scored on an error.
Bazor managed his pitching staff to keep as many guys as possible available for West Sacramento, as Jenner Howard, Westbrook, Warren, Carroll and Christian Cochran all threw in the game.
“I thought we started off well, but then went to sleep for awhile,” Bazor said of Sunday’s win. “I think Sunday morning hit us pretty hard, but we were able to snap out of it. It was a good team win, and we were able to keep our pitching ready for tomorrow, as we’ve got everyone available other than Reese.
“We’re looking forward to tomorrow,” Bazor continued. “I’m sure we’ll face Tandy, as he looked good the other day. We’ve seen their guys, though, and we know we can compete.”