Baseball: Hollister 8-9, 9-10 All-Stars shine bright

Hollister American's 9-10 team celebrates after rallying for an 8-7 win in the District 9 Tournament championship game.

The Hollister American 9-10 All-Star team never knew what it was like to play from behind—until the District 9 tournament championship game on July 11. Trailing friendly rival Hollister National 7-4 entering the top of the sixth inning—meaning it was three outs away from defeat—American roared back to post a 8-7 win in seven innings.
American played its first game in the Section 5 Tournament on Thursday in Milpitas.
If American can play with the poise it displayed in the District 9 tournament, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it make a deep run in sectionals.
In the penultimate inning against National, American loaded the bases with one out after a Julien Garcia walk, a Tristan Schmidt single and a Mateo Pelaiz walk.
National then committed two consecutive errors, leading to two American runs. With two outs, Jaret Ruano-Perez laced an RBI double to make it 7-7. In the seventh, American’s Alex Valencia scored the winning run when Pelaiz drew a bases-loaded walk with one out.
Once Valencia crossed home plate, he raised his arms in excitement before being mobbed by his teammates in the dugout. American had the luxury of having a rested Garcia to close things out.
The 10-year-old right-hander hadn’t pitched in the entire tournament before throwing two scoreless innings of relief to seal the outcome. In fact, Garcia didn’t pitch much during the regular season either because he was playing up in age with 12 year olds.
But Garcia and the rest of the American players played with a carefree attitude that all teams should mimic.
“The kids have a lot of fun, and they know losing a game is not the end of the world,” American manager Frank Reyes said. “They play loose so it’s not like they’re feeling pressure. As a coach, you don’t know how the team will respond from behind until they’re in that situation. They were up for the challenge, that’s for sure.”
Of that, there is no doubt. American had its hands full with a tough National squad that was in control until the later innings. National scored in each of the first five innings, receiving contributions throughout the lineup.
National actually doubled American’s hit total, 14 to 7, but didn’t take full advantage of its scoring opportunities. In the bottom of the sixth, National had runners at first and second with no outs.
However, Garcia recorded back-to-back strikeouts before inducing a fielder’s choice to end the threat. Broc Barrett had a huge game for National, reaching base in all five of his plate appearances (three singles and two walks).
Jake Woods, Tyler Pacheco and Jaden Mingus had two his each. Ruano-Perez started for American and went three innings, and Alexis Gomez pitched the next two innings before Garcia entered in the sixth.
Ruano-Perez was the only American player with multiple hits, and teammate Ethan Salcedo had a two-run double in the second inning. Reyes said Valencia has proven to be one of the team’s emotional sparks all tournament long.
“I’m super happy we won it,” said Valencia, the team’s catcher. “We came back to win it, and it was a little shocking at first because we had to play catchup. It was a tough win, and Julien came in a tough situation and pitched great. He throws some heat, and it’s great to have him on our team.”
In the 8-9 championship game, Hollister National rolled to a 7-1 win over Hollister American. Led by the 1-2 pitching duo of Ezra Robinson and Austin Hutchison—the two pitched three innings each—National was never threatened en route to the victory. At the 8-9 age division, there are no tournaments after district play.
“We thought it was going to be a really close game, and we thought we were going to win it,” National manager Matt Lewis said. “We had a great group of kids and a great group of supportive parents who were there the whole way.”
For National, William Lewis had a two-run double, Gabriel Torres a two-run triple, Hutchison had two hits and Chase Waller had a bunt single. Matt Lewis said the game was extra special because it involved two Hollister teams.
“The kids are always fired up when it’s Hollister vs. Hollister because it’s for bragging rights,” he said. “The kids did a really good job of hitting the ball and putting it in play, and our pitching was great.”
When Lewis and coach Mike Waller selected the team, Lewis was initially worried because five of the players were from the younger AA level. The difference in AAA and AA in Little League is age; AAA players are 9 to 12 while AA is 8 to 10.
“Typically most (All-Star) teams will have two or three kids from AA,” he said.
But Lewis’ concern was short-lived, as National rolled from the start of the District 9 tournament. Its closest game was an 11-5 win over American in pool play.

Leave your comments