Youth Baseball: Hollister teams set for friendly showdown

Jaret Ruano has been dynamite for the Hollister American 9-10 All-Star team.

The friendly showdown is set in the Little League 9-10 All-Star District 9 tournament.
Hollister American and Hollister National both won semifinals on Tuesday, setting up an all-Hollister championship game at noon Saturday at Veterans Park. American defeated Atlantic 7-2 in Tuesday’s semifinal, while National whipped Continental 10-0 in its semifinal.
“To get both teams in would be great for our league,” American manager Rey Martinez said a day before the semifinal contest. “It’d be a lot of fun for our town to experience.”
Glen Pacheco, the National manager, expressed similar sentiments.
“It would be great because all of the kids know each other, and we’re good buddies with the American coaching staff,” Pacheco said. “We want to beat them no doubt, but the good news is we know a team from Hollister will be moving on to sectionals.”
No matter what happens, coaches and players will remain friends afterward, a result of the teams seeing each other almost everyday. On Monday, for instance, the American squad practiced at Veterans Park from 4 to 6 p.m., and National went from 6 to 8 p.m.
Just how close are the two teams? Martinez said his squad has received tremendous support from Billy Aviles, the San Benito High baseball coach who is also one of the coaches on the National team.
“Billy has been so gracious to let us use some of his equipment and tools,” Martinez said. “We share facilities at Vets, and him providing a lot of baseballs and protective nets makes it easier to run more efficient practice. We’ve been very grateful for their help.”
Both teams went through pool play with little resistance. American absolutely obliterated their competition in pool B, outscoring five teams by a combined score of 72-11. American did receive a competitive game from Soledad, winning by a 7-3 score.
“It was a good game for the boys to play a better team to prepare us for (single elimination) bracket play,” Martinez said. “We wanted to see some pitching that would kind of challenge our lineup a little bit. As we move forward into the tournament, the competition gets a little tougher.”
American has received contributions from several players, including three home runs from Julien Garcia—“He’s kind of blown up with a huge power surge,” Martinez said—while also getting strong pitching from Jaret Ruano.
“Jaret is a power pitcher who can mix it up with some off-speed pitches,” Martinez said.
Meanwhile, a balanced lineup and potent pitching corps have also boosted National’s play; Jake Woods and Broc Barrett have been strong on the mound and with the bat, while Billy Aviles Jr. and Arthur Pena have also contributed strong pitching performances.
“We want to beat them, no doubt about it,” Pacheco said. “But it’s nice to know we’re playing a quality team with quality coaches and players. If they win, we’ll be rooting for them to win sectionals, and if we win, I’m sure they’ll be rooting for us.”
The 8-9 title game also pits Hollister American vs. Hollister National. The teams were in the same pool, with National earning the top seed by virtue of its 11-5 win over American.
“We probably made six errors in the first inning (vs. National that led to five unearned runs),” said American manager Mike Pieracci, who credited National for being a strong team with good coaches. “We didn’t play our game.”
Pieracci hopes his teams comes up with a cleaner performance against National, which hammered Ferrasci Park 23-7 in the semifinals. American beat a tough Hartnell team 4-1 in its semifinal.
American pitcher Noah Dewey has been so dominant that Pieracci has pulled him out of two games while he had a no-hitter working. The outcome had already been decided in those games, and it made perfect sense to save Dewey’s pitch count, knowing he would take the bump if the team made it to the championship game.

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