Lakeside rolls, clinches semifinal spot in San Bernardino

10-0 win over Utah improves record to 3-0
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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In the pool-play portion of any baseball tournament, there really are two primary goals – to win enough games to earn a spot in the bracket-play round and to set up your pitching rotation in a way that maximizes your chances once you get there. The Lakeside Little League Major division all-star team accomplished both goals in its third of four pool play contests at the Western Regional tournament Monday as it defeated Utah 10-0 for its third win and took the pressure off for Wednesday’s game against Hawaii. “So far, it’s playing out exactly the way we wanted it,” said Lakeside manager Bill Rockefeller. “This was our plan and the boys have executed it just fine.” Zach Hall tossed a one-hit shutout and his team banged out 13 hits in the contest, which was shortened to four innings by the 10-run mercy rule. The win by the Northern California champions locks up a spot in the semifinals, to be played Friday night at Al Houghton Stadium in San Bernardino. Lakeside, operating from the visitor’s dugout for the third straight game, scored once in the first inning as Billy Rockefeller crossed on a passed ball after reaching base by way of a fielder’s choice. The Utah state champion, Cedar City American, got its only knock of the night from its initial hitter, whose sharply hit ball just got past the Lakeside third baseman. After that, a second inning walk provided its only other base runner in the contest, as Hall fanned five and faced just 14 batters in four innings. “Zach’s a seasoned pitcher,” Rockefeller said. “He had an injury that kept him from throwing a lot this year, and we were saving him for this time of year. He knows what he is doing out there.” A Mitch Hart home run, the team's first long ball at the regional tourney, highlighted a five-run second that allowed Lakeside to take control. The 12 and 13-year-olds from Granite Bay and Loomis did most of their damage in that second stanza after two were out. Nick Frank chased home a run with a two-out single, and a second run scored on the play when the throw home got away from the catcher. After Frank scored on a wild pitch, Rockefeller singled to set the table for Hart’s big fly, which gave Lakeside a 6-0 lead after two frames. “We worked on base running for about 45 minutes yesterday,” Rockefeller said. “The base running was really good tonight. I would like to be hitting more, but it’s coming around and when they need it, the boys still come through.” Frank doubled home Matt McCord in the third to add one more to the count, and then Lakeside tallied three times in the fourth to end this one early. A two-run bingo by Hall and a run-scoring base hit from Matt Berry were key in the inning, and reserve third baseman Myles Slattery also added a knock. While its offense delivered when needed, defense has been huge in Lakeside’s 3-0 run through the field at San Bernardino. Hart, Frank and now Hall have all hurled complete game gems on the bump, due in large part to their ability to get outs by forcing opposing hitters to put the ball in play. “We haven’t thrown the ball around this week really at all,” Rockefeller said. “Hopefully we can continue that right through the weekend.” Lakeside faces Central East Maui Little League, from Wailuku, Hawaii, to close out pool play Wednesday night, but the game matters only for positioning in the Friday semifinals. Hawaii is 0-2 with a game against Utah Tuesday before it gets to the matchup with the Northern California champions. Hawaii will likely be playing for its tournament life Wednesday, as it battles with Nevada and Arizona for the last two spots in the semifinals. For Lakeside, the game will determine if they enter the semifinals as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed with its Friday opponent and game time determined by that result. With his top two pitchers – Hart and Frank – set up for the semifinals and a hoped-for championship final (that would follow Sunday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2), Rockefeller will be using someone else to handle the pitching against Hawaii, as his power duo is on the shelf for the Wednesday game. Pool play standings as of 8/10: Lakeside (Northern California) 3-0 Park View, Chula Vista (Southern California) 3-0 Legacy, Henderson (Nevada) 1-1 Arrowhead, Glendale (Arizona) 1-2 Central East Maui, Wailuku (Hawaii) 0-2 Cedar City American (Utah) 0-3