Quick start lets Woodcreek Angels survive Folsom American Angels

Seven run first inning is key to win by Woodcreek B
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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The Woodcreek Little League major division B team raced out of the gate Thursday night on its home field before coming down to earth and clinging in the end to an 8-7 win over Folsom American B in the opening round of the District 54 Tournament of Champions at Mahany Park. The initial six Woodcreek Angels to step into the batter’s box banged out hits against the starting pitcher for the Folsom American Angels, Tyler Foerstel, as Woodcreek tallied seven times in the opening stanza. Darrel Doll, Chris Loeb, Josh Cooper, Garrett Grijalva, Tyler Bounds and Alex Hoyer all scored after their first inning hits. In danger of being run off the diamond, Folsom American took advantage of the uncharacteristic wildness of Loeb, the Woodcreek starter, and quickly got itself back in the game. An infield single got things started in the bottom of the first, and then the first of two catcher’s interference calls on Grijalva put two runners on the bags as Loeb issued four consecutive free passes. “Chris Loeb's pitching did not go as planned,” said Woodcreek manager Jamie Clifton. “Walking hitters is not Chris. I was very surprised at his lack of control tonight.” The walks not only allowed Folsom American to score three runs and get right back into the contest, but also racked up a huge pitch count for Loeb, leading to his early exit from the hill in just the third inning as he hit the 85 pitch limit. FALL did cut the lead to 7-3, but could have come much closer as it left the bags crammed in the first and left two more runners on base in the second. Woodcreek opened the second stanza with back-to-back knocks by Cooper and Grijalva, but then Foerstel settled down and kept them from scoring again until he left the game as he reached his pitch count limit with one out in the fifth. “I was a little surprised that we did not hit better after the first,” Clifton said. “But we are pretty deep in pitching. It made it nice to start out with seven runs in the first.” Woodcreek turned the ball over to the committee approach for the balance of the contest, looking to keep everyone below 20 pitches to keep all hurlers eligible for its next outing. Doll, Cooper, Hoyer and finally Bounds each took a turn on the bump for Woodcreek. “The only pitcher that would go more then 20 pitches tonight would have been Tyler Bounds, the last one on the mound,” Clifton said. “Our hitting is very good but the pitching is what got us here.” Ryan LaRocca chipped into the margin, singling in the home half of the fourth and then scoring on a throwing error to pull Folsom American to within three at 7-4, but Hoyer chased home Loeb with a base hit in the sixth to reset the advantage at four runs, just enough to hold off Folsom American’s final surge. Two walks brought Bounds to the hill in the sixth with one out and two on, and Lucas Hendricks greeted him with a two-base hit that scored Josh Hook with the inning’s first run. After a strikeout put Woodcreek one out away from victory, Andrew Fitzgerald bounced a ball into the hole between third and short, scoring Foerstel. The Woodcreek shortstop cut off the ball and attempted unsuccessfully to throw out Foerstel, and when the throw got away from Loeb at first, Hendricks scored to narrow the margin to 8-7. Fitzgerald stole second base, but got no further when a strikeout ended the game and sent Woodcreek on to the second round. The loss in the single elimination event ends the Folsom American Angels season, while the Woodcreek Angels move on to face Ponderosa A, who had a first round bye, on Saturday at 7 p.m.