National on a roll in District tourney

Hollister National pitcher Arthur Pena pitched 3 2/3 innings in an 11-2 win over Hollister American last Sunday.
The Grove
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The Hollister National 11- and 12-year-old All Star team believes it has the goods to get to sectionals this season. Hollister National delivered a powerful statement last weekend, whipping Greenfield 18-1 last Saturday before producing an 11-2 victory over Hollister American Sunday. Hollister National has two Pool B games remaining—Wednesday against Greenfield and Friday against Hartnell before the knockout stage begins.

The top two teams from Pool B play the top two teams from Pool A, with the winners of those games advancing to the championship contest on July 8. For the third year in a row, it could be the two Hollister teams squaring off for the right to advance to sectionals.

“They’ve gotten the better of us the last two years, so it was nice to get the better of them even though it wasn’t a championship game,” Hollister National manager Glen Pacheco said. “It’s always a special game when the American and National teams can play each other. All of the kids are good friends, and a lot of them play on the same travel ball team.”

Hollister National clubbed five home runs against Greenfield, highlighted by a Billy Aviles grand slam. Tyler Pacheco had four hits and a home run, while Arthur Pena, Rocco Marron and Broc Barrett also had homers in a game that ended after four innings due to the mercy rule. Barrett, Pacheco and Woods combined to shut down Greenfield.

Hollister National produced a superb performance against its American counterparts, as Pena started and went 3 2/3 innings before Woods and Miles Guardino finished things off with a couple of solid innings of relief. Guardino also went 3 for 3 with two doubles, and Pacheco, Woods and Pena had two hits each.

Hollister National has fell short in its quest to go to sectionals the last couple of seasons, but the difference could be in the mental and physical maturation of its players. Sometimes players take a quantum leap when they’re 11 going on 12, and Hollister National has become a physical squad in that regard.

“The boys get bigger and stronger, and at this age the difference is noticeable from one year to the next,” Glen Pacheco said. “Some of these boys are 5-9, 5-10, and the ball field is a sand box to some of them.”

Julian Garcia pitched well for Hollister American; however, once he departed the game in the third or fourth inning due to reaching the 85-pitch count limit, the Hollister National hitters started producing hits in bunches. Pacheco said the pitching quartet of Pena, Guardino, Barrett and Woods have delivered standout performances and should receive the bulk of the innings.

However, if the team gets into sectionals and beyond, Pacheco will also lean on quality pitchers in Marron, Tyler Pacheco and Seth Nino.

“As the tournament moves on, you’ll need more pitchers,” Glen Pacheco said.

Hollister National has a deep pitching crops, strong hitters and rock-solid defense. For those reasons along with the team’s maturation, Pacheco feels the team could have a special season.

“Everyone on the team can play defense, which is a big deal,” he said. “A lot of times in these Little League games they’re not won—they’re lost on defense. We’ve worked hard to be a better team since last year, and we’re prepared to make another good run and hopefully get through district and onto sectionals.”

Pacheco said he’s had a blast managing the team with friends Billy Aviles—who just completed his seventh season at San Benito High—along with Brian Barrett.

“Billy and Brian are great coaches, and we’ve got great kids,” Pacheco said. “Hopefully this will be the year when we can take it to another level.”

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