Win over Folsom American earns Woodcreek shot at Roseville rival

Junior all-stars play for title Wednesday night in Folsom
By: Robbie Enos, Press Tribune Correspondent
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An efficient Nick Williams on the mound and an even more efficient Woodcreek offense was just too much for Folsom American Monday night. A five-run first inning outburst helped Williams settle in and put Woodcreek in position to knock off Folsom 8-2 Monday at the Little League District 54 Junior division all-star tournament at Folsom’s Lembi Park. Williams threw 5 2/3 innings and recorded six strikeouts for Woodcreek, who now have a date with Roseville West for the championship. “My fastball was really working for me today,” Williams said. “My curveball wasn’t working very well. I just wanted to keep my pitches on the outside. I’m really excited to be moving on in the tournament.” The primary weapon in the Woodcreek lineup was shortstop Hank Pankratz, who recorded a single, double, walk and two runs scored. “We had a demoralizing game before this,” said Woodcreek manager James Penn. “We just wanted to make sure that they had that game off their mind before they came out here to play. We wanted to make sure that they were ready to win by any means necessary.” One bright spot for Folsom American was leadoff man Will McClure, who reached base twice and scored one of his team’s two runs. Despite the end to the season, McClure was grateful for the great year the team had put together. “My favorite part of the year was that we continued to win,” McClure said. “It was great that we got this far.” McClure scored his run in the top of the first by leaning into a Williams pitch to get on base. Williams also hit Jacob Winkler to put McClure in scoring position. Ryan Kuzinich then singled into center field to bring McClure home. Folsom eventually loaded the bases, but Williams worked out of the jam. Woodcreek’s five-run first started with a Pankratz single into center. He came around to score when Brennan Spezia doubled into the right-center gap, answering Folsom’s early score. But that just wasn’t enough for the Woodcreek offense. Nathan Kaslan drew a walk before Dylan Spezia loaded the bases with an infield single. Cy Hynes punched a 2-RBI single to right, and then Spezia scored on a Carson Farnworth base hit. Williams collected an RBI of his own with a single to center field. Woodcreek’s defense tightened up after Folsom’s early run. Williams retired the side with two strikeouts in the second. In the third, Pankratz made a sensational defensive play, making a diving stop up the middle on a ground ball, and then beating Andrew Schantz to second base on another dive, recording the force play, preventing a run, and ending the inning. Pankratz and Brennan Spezia teamed up again in the fourth. Pankratz hit a double over the right fielder’s head, giving way to a two-out RBI Spezia double. Ethan Robertson relieved starting pitcher Kuzinich in the fifth. He didn’t get much help from his defense, which committed two errors and allowed two runs to score. Austin McCarty led off the inning with a double before Cy Hynes hit into an outfield blunder by Folsom, allowing McCarty to score. Stephen Sullivan executed a productive at-bat with Hynes on third and one out, hitting a ball to the shortstop to score another run. The Junior division championship game will be played at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Lembi Park. Woodcreek must win that one to force a second winner-take-all rematch the following evening. Penn feels his team will be ready. “Everybody’s going to be ready to pitch and we’re just going to go out there and win the ball game,” he said. “They’re going to go out there and play hard.”