Roseville West knocks Folsom American to elimination bracket

By: Kurt Johnson
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It had the feel of a blowout, and if you were not watching the scoreboard, you would have thought that the Roseville West Major all-stars were comfortably in control all night long against Folsom American in the Little League District 54 tournament at McFarland Park in Folsom. That, however, was not really the case, as a number of base-running outs kept Roseville West from running away. Despite banging out 13 hits, until the team scored three in the top of the sixth to double its advantage to 6-0, it was anything but relaxing in the first-base dugout. “We know in order to win District 54 you have to play at the top of your game,” said Roseville West manager Dave Grashoff. “We keep telling the kids - limit the walks and errors and hit the ball and good things will happen. We hit the ball last night, but just couldn’t string them all together. It was nice to get the win against a scrappy Folsom team.” Fortunately for Roseville West, Matt Grashoff was swinging a hot stick and Ian Codina got stronger on the hill as the game went along. That combination, along with some stellar defense, was enough to lead West to a 6-1 win that keeps it alive in the winner’s bracket of the tourney. Both teams stranded a pair of runners in the opening stanza, when Roseville West right fielder Cooper Sage turned in the first of his defensive gems. Will McClure appeared to open the home half of the first for Folsom with a single to right, but never reached the bag because Sage charged the ball hard and gunned him out before he arrived at first base. Roseville West had a runner caught stealing in the second, lost one on a line-drive double play and another when he took too big a turn around second in the third, which kept it from running away and hiding. Right after Adam Erickson’s liner to first was turned into two outs on a nice grab by Folsom American’s Tyler Kaim as he caught the ball at the bag to double up Kyle Downie, Matt Grashoff lifted the first of two home runs over the fence down the right field line to put Roseville West up 1-0. Matt Razzano and Codina followed with singles, but centerfielder Lukas Hendricks threw in behind Razzano as he turned the corner at second base to record the inning’s final out and keep the advantage at one run, despite a four-hit stanza. While Codina, who pitched 5-1/3 innings, allowing just one unearned run on two hits while striking out six and walking three, was shutting down Folsom American, Roseville West used singles by Chris Anderson and Max Fereira to plate one more in the fourth, and then added its third run on Grashoff’s second long ball in the fifth. Grashoff’s club finally posted a crooked number in the top of the sixth stanza, when singles by John Burcham and Connor Rock, and a walk to Downie set the table while a pair of sacrifice fly balls cleaned it off to provide a 6-0 advantage heading into Folsom’s final time at bat. A walk to Kyle Foerstel and a double by Tylor Rhee got Folsom American its lone run as Foerstel raced home on an errant throw back to the infield. The Rhee double came on Codina’s final delivery, as Roseville West summoned Downie to record the final two outs, which he did, both by way of the strikeout. The loss sends Folsom American into an elimination game at 5 p.m. Thursday night against Gold Rush, while Roseville West will face Lakeside in the upper half of the bracket at 7:30 p.m. Friday night. “We look forward facing a very, very good Lakeside team. We got a good look at them last Friday when they beat us 9-4 in a game that didn’t have any impact,” Dave Grashoff said. “This Friday is different. The game means either heading to the loser’s bracket or advancing on the winner’s side. Again, we knocked them out last year and I know they have not forgotten.” “We need to play near perfect baseball to beat them,” Grashoff continued. “We are capable of that. Our kids believe in themselves and what we can accomplish. We’re in it to battle. We’re in it to give it our best. We’re in it to win it.” While Roseville West still has the luxury of knowing it can lose once without going home immediately, that option is no longer there for Folsom American as it is now in must-win mode the rest of the way.