Woodcreek Little League Angels advance to major division TOC finalsBy: Ike Dodson■Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
Eight Roseville-area Little League teams advanced to the major division of the District 54 Tournament of Champions last week.
Only one remains — the Woodcreek Little League Angels.
The Angels ended a dramatic underdog postseason by the Roseville West Braves with an 18-8 slugfest during Tuesday’s semifinals at Mahany Park.
The win propelled the Angels to today’s June 18 finale against the Folsom American Twins, who bested the Woodcreek Phillies in 13-4 fashion Tuesday. The two teams meet at 6:30 p.m. at Mahany Park for the district crown.
Woodcreek Angels 18, Roseville West Braves 8
The Angels forced a five-inning ending after 15 hits drove in three or more runners in each of the first three frames. The team rallied to an eight-run third inning and posted three more scores in the fifth to complete the 10-run mercy ruling.
“We got deep in the count, got the opposing pitcher’s pitch count up and got our batters to hit a good pitch,” Angels coach Eric Gums said. “I think that was key.”
Gums said he was operating with several of the same players that won the major division title as 11-year-olds in 2013.
The group was bounced in the first round of Gums first trek to TOCs last year. They have a great chance to make the most of his second.
“The target was on our back all year long,” Gums said. “These kids have worked hard to beat the best pitchers out there all year long.”
The Angels lineup was dominant Tuesday.
Aidan Martinez (2 for 3, double, three runs, two RBIs), Andrew Paolini (2 for 2, three walks, two doubles, four runs, two RBIs), Alec Gums (3 for 4, three runs), Dylan Morillas (2 for 4, three runs), Riley Regan (3 for 5, three RBIs, two runs) and Blake Milligan (2 for 4, three RBIs) were terrific in five plate appearances each throughout the contest.
Morillas and Gums combined to throw five sharp innings for the Angels, striking out four batters. The Braves managed 12 hits, but couldn’t close the gap.
Braves hitter Cameron Belton blasted a home run over the center field wall in the first inning, and then repeated the same feat in the fourth inning to finish with three RBIs and three runs.
Christian Perry (2 for 3, run), Trevor Regan (2 for 3), Victor Ramirez (3 for 3, two RBIs) and Jared Law (2 for 3) also swung the bat well for the Braves.
It was an impressive semifinal appearance for a program that finished only third in Roseville West’s regular season. They only reached TOCs because the second place program couldn’t field a postseason team.
“We weren’t even supposed to be here,” Braves manager Rich Fobbs said. “I think what we did here validated why we were here.
“They seem to be bigger than what we are, and that’s what got us into this situation in the first place.”
The Angels (21-2) face a potent Twins lineup and strong bullpen when the major bracket culminates tonight. The Folsom champions are 25-3 on the season.
Folsom American Twins 13, Woodcreek Phillies 4
The Phillies, runner-up in the Woodcreek majors, opened the tournament with a victory over Lakeside’s “B” team, before consecutive wins over champions from Maidu and Roseville West to reach the semis.
The squad ran into some tough pitching from the Twins and found their own defensive struggles (seven errors).
It was still an impressive ending for a team that played four games in four consecutive games and fell just short of the District 54 finals.
“I just think they are team ballplayers more than anything else,” Phillies manager Chris Keim said. “These kids worked so hard all season long and our coaching staff is so proud of them.”
JT Bauser (single) reached first and scored in all three trips to the plate for the Phillies. He joined Carson Keim, Connor Enslow (double) and Ben Santiago in representing all four hits against Folsom American pitchers (11 strikeouts).
Email Ike Dodson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @Ike_Dodson.