Nationals manager Adam Breen had previously moved power-hitting
shortstop Tommy Hernandez to the leadoff spot in order to apply
pressure on the opposition, right from the very first pitch.
And Hernandez, whose last hit was launched over the left field
fence for a two-run homer against Soledad on Wednesday, immediately
applied pressure on starting pitcher Isaac Garcia and the
Continental Athletics Friday night in the Tournament of Champions
final at Hartnell Little League in Salinas.
Nationals manager Adam Breen had previously moved power-hitting shortstop Tommy Hernandez to the leadoff spot in order to apply pressure on the opposition, right from the very first pitch.
And Hernandez, whose last hit was launched over the left field fence for a two-run homer against Soledad on Wednesday, immediately applied pressure on starting pitcher Isaac Garcia and the Continental Athletics Friday night in the Tournament of Champions final at Hartnell Little League in Salinas.
Hernandez belted Garcia’s very first offering over the left-center field fence for a solo homer in the first inning, then paced the Hollister National representative to a convincing 11-1 victory in the major division championship.
“I was looking for a fastball on the first pitch,” said Hernandez of the leadoff blast, his 17th home run this season. “I hit it pretty far. I hit the basketball courts (beyond left field).”
The game was called in the fourth inning when Isaiah Caudillo’s sacrifice fly to center field plated Hernandez from third base, and supplied the Nationals with a 10-run mercy rule win.
“It was great to get started with a bang on the first pitch,” said Breen, whose Nationals team completes its season with 23-4 record.
Hernandez’s deep shot wasn’t the only display of strong hitting for the Nationals in the first inning, though. Following a walk to Caudillo, Andrew Breen drove a high fastball over the left field fence for a two-run homer – a pitch that was so high, in fact, the 12-year-old Breen later said he probably shouldn’t have swung at it.
It’s a good thing he did, though. It led to Breen’s 12th homer of the season.
It’s the fourth time this year Hernandez and Breen have gone deep in the same inning.
“Good pitching, good defense,” Adam Breen said. “But we’ve hit some timely home runs this year.”
The Nationals tacked on one more run in the first inning when Brandon Seanez lined an RBI single into left field, scoring Jacob Trujillo from second base and supplying the Nats with an early four-run cushion.
“For us, it’s been a momentum-changer throughout the year,” Breen added about the long ball. “And then to back it up with good pitching has made a difference, for sure.”
Starting pitcher Andrew Breen threw a complete, four-inning game, allowing just one run on two hits.
“I think I pitched pretty good,” the hurler Breen said. “The fastball was working good.”
As was his curveball and anything else he threw. Out of a possible 12 outs in the four-inning game, Breen struck out nine batters, including the side in the third inning.
“He pitched good,” said Hernandez, who was 3-for-3 in the game.
And the Nationals backed Breen with plenty of run support as well. Capitalizing on two A’s errors in the second frame, the Nationals put six more runs across the board on just three hits, including an RBI bloop into shallow left field by Caudillo that scored Elijah Garcia and made it a 10-0 game after two innings of play.
The sizeable lead seemed to be a familiar trend for Hollister National this postseason. The Nationals, coached by John Hernandez and Mike Martinez, outscored its four opponents by a comfortable 46-7 margin – a far cry from the first-round loss the Nationals suffered two years ago in the TOC.
“To have that opportunity, especially with all the 12 year olds, it’s nice,” Adam Breen said. “It’s nice to go out on a winning note.”
Triple-A Tournament of Champions
The Hollister National Mets lost to Greenfield 13-8 Saturday morning in the District 9 Tournament of Champions minor division final at Gonzales Little League.
After previously defeating Salinas Atlantic 10-8, Hollister American 9-8 and King City 11-8 to reach the championship game, the Mets simply ran out of pitching, manager Dave Marquez said.
“But the kids battled, no matter who they were playing,” Marquez said.
The Mets actually trailed 13-5 going into the final frame before plating three runs.
“We made a little bit of a comeback,” Marquez said. “They just never gave up, no matter what the score was.
“They battled all year long.”
The Mets complete its season with a 16-4 overall record.