Woodcreek survives Major Folsom American all-star test

By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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A decisive sequence between the home half of the fourth inning and the top half of the fifth gave the Woodcreek Little League Major division all-stars just enough of an upper hand to take a 5-3 win over Folsom American in a Friday night elimination game at Folsom’s McFarland Park. With both teams looking to stay alive in the District 54 tournament, it was Woodcreek that made the plays when it had to, and thus the Roseville squad will live to fight at least one more day. Folsom American opened the bottom of the fourth with a walk and then a Tylor Rhee double that put runners at second and third with no one out, but Woodcreek reliever Hank Pankratz was up to the challenge. Tyler Kaim lifted a fly ball, medium deep, to right field, but Folsom elected not to challenge the arm of Carson Farnworth and the runners remained, even as a high throw rattled around the infield. Pankratz set down the next two batters, both looking at strike three, to escape the jam and leave the game deadlocked at 3-3. As Kaim tossed his 85th pitch of the contest, the upper limit for 12-year-old pitchers, to Scott Saylor leading off the top of the fifth, the Woodcreek third baseman was on it, sending a line drive far beyond the barrier in right-centerfield to give his team a lead it would not relinquish. Woodcreek added an insurance run in the sixth, and then Pankratz struck out the side, the top three batters in the Folsom order, in the home half to seal the deal. The hitting of Pankratz (3-for-4) and Rickey Ramirez (2-for-3 with a home run) provided early offense for Woodcreek, while Folsom got its jolt from a second-inning two-run bomb off the bat of No. 9 hitter, Jacob Jones. Woodcreek’s first two hitters – Pankratz and Chris Loeb – singled to open the contest, but the club was only able to plate a single run, when Pankratz scored on a passed ball. Folsom American answered, as Will McClure banged a lead-off single, and eventually scored after Farnworth issued three free passes, forcing in the tying run. Ramirez’ long ball led off the Woodcreek second, and another run scored in the inning on a fielder’s choice, but again Folsom American answered right back to even the score at 3-3. Farnworth walked the leadoff hitter in the home half of the second and then Jones unleashed his power swing to deadlock the contest. The scoring ceased until the Saylor dinger in the fifth as Pankratz struck out nine in his four inning on the hill to deliver victory to Woodcreek. The loss ends Folsom American’s impressive all-star run and sends Woodcreek to a 7 p.m. Saturday date with Roseville West, an elimination game that will send one team home and the other to a championship battle with Lakeside on Sunday.