The Hollister Little League All Star teams ruled District 9 tournament play once again. Last Saturday at Ferrasci Little League Park in Salinas, Hollister teams won three of the four different age bracket championships. Hollister National won the 12-and-under title by virtue of a 10-0, 4-inning mercy-rule victory over Hollister American.
Hollister American’s 11-and-under team took its division championship with a 12-8 decision over Hollister National. And Hollister American’s 9- and 10-year-old squad defeated Atlantic 8-4 to win its respective District 9 tournament. The three District 9 champions advance to Section 5 tournament play at different locations.
The 12s team play at Rolling Hills Middle School in Los Gatos; the 11s team play at Wilson Park in Cupertino; and the 10s team plays at Ferrasci Little League. For the 10-and-under age group, section play is the final tournament. Should the 11s and 12s win sectionals, they would advance to the Northern California tournament.
One thing is for certain: Hollister hasn’t had a 11s or 12s team win sectionals in several years. So a victory in sectionals would add another riveting chapter to what has been another tremendous season for Hollister Little League. In the District 9 tournament 11s final, Hollister American avenged an earlier defeat to Hollister National in pool play.
National won the pool play game 8-6; however, American simply had too much offense in the rematch.
“Our bats got hot and stayed hot all game,” American manager Mike Pieracci said.
American jumped on National, taking an 11-2 lead after three innings. American scored 90 runs in six games.
“I hear it from opposing coaches all the time, that they’ve never seen a team hit the ball like we do,” Pieracci said.
The 11s roster include Jacob Antopia, Jonathan Corlis, Jacob Cruz, Noah Dewey, Evan Esparza, Abel Galindo, Agustin Gomez, Jesse McKenzie, Andrew Pasillas, Justin Pieracci, Adrian Ruiz, Diego Santos and Zach Watt. Ruiz had three home runs in the tournament, Dewey had two homers, and Pasillas had two—the first two of his entire Little League career.
“He got two fastballs and turned on them,” Pieracci said. “He’s our leadoff hitter and did a great job. All 13 kids had at least one hit in the tournament.”
Pieracci and Santos also had home runs. Corlis and Dewey pitched in the title game, and Watt will also play a key role on the mound in section play. The team bonded at Watt’s family home, which features a batting cage, three hitting stations and a bullpen for pitchers.
“It’s phenomenal,” Pieracci said. “We had a lot of practices there, and it paid off.”
Hollister American’s 10-and-under team went a perfect 7-0 in District 9 play, including two wins over Atlantic, the runner-up team. The roster includes Nathan Alves, Westin Aviles, Brayden Barone, Anthony Bolin, Gavyn Churchill, Dominic Esparza, Alex Hernandez, Robert Holsten, Ashlee Io, Daniel Martinez, Angel Montiel and Jordan Quezada.
In the final, Martinez and Churchill delivered the goods on the mound, while the lineup was plenty potent enough. Hernandez had a two-run home run. American manager Rich Alves said coaches Daniel Barone and Hector Esparza deserved a lot of credit for making the right moves and coaching up the boys in a positive and productive way.
Although the adults provided direction, Alves said players like Hernandez and Holsten proved to be capable leaders as well.
“They got the team amped up, and they got the kids to work on what they needed to do,” Alves said.
Hernandez plays catcher, first base and pitcher, while Holsten plays shortstop. Churchill is a standout catcher and pitcher, and the team also has quality starters in Holsten and Martinez. The closers have been Hernandez, Io, Alves and Quezada.
When Churchill clinched the game with a strikeout, the entire team erupted in pandemonium.
“All of the kids were jumping up and down and going crazy,” Alves said. “It was great because you could see the stress on the kids late in the game, and they responded well.”
Esparza, Martinez, Hernandez and Quezada each hit home runs. Hollister National’s 12s squad was utterly dominant, outscoring six opponents by a combined margin of 80-6—no, that’s not a typo. All but one of National’s six games ended early due to the mercy rule. The lopsided nature of the contests allowed National manager Glen Pacheco to pull off a rare feat—have the same pitcher start every game.
Matt Pena was able to start every contest because in two of them he was lifted after one inning due to the team’s offensive outburst in the first inning. The power left-handed pitcher allowed no runs and gave up just three hits in a sparkling tourney run. In the final, seven of the 12 outs Pena induced came via strikeout.
“Most kids are not used to seeing lefties at all, and to see one like Pena has to be tough,” Pacheco said. “Pena is a big, nasty lefty who throws 70 mph—that’s tough to hit.”
Here’s another jaw-dropping stat: National blasted 16 home runs in six games. Pena hit four, Broc Barrett had three, while Tyler Pacheco, Jake Woods and Billy Aviles had two each. Miles Guardino, Juan Cortez and Rocco Marron had one homer apiece. Isaiha Molina, Seth Nino, Armando Salcedo and Matt Villarreal also made steady contributions in the team’s championship run.