The Hollister 10U All Star Little League baseball team had a season to remember.
Hollister won the District 9 Tournament championship before going 1-2 in the Section 5 Tournament to close out its season. A riveting, white-knuckle 7-6 victory over Atlantic on July 10 in the District 9 winner-take-all title contest was certainly the highlight of the season.
Hollister led 7-5 entering the bottom of the sixth inning when Atlantic loaded the bases with two outs. A sharp single to right field drove in the runner from third base, and the player on second was also coming home. However, Hollister right fielder Jordan Corral threw out the runner from second base trying to score, ending the game on a bang-bang play.
Games usually don’t end with a tag at home plate, which is why Hollister enjoyed a huge celebration. Everything was on the line because the day before Atlantic routed Hollister 13-5 to force the winner-take-all game.
“The kids went nuts,” Hollister Manager Silas Quintero said. “It was an amazing play to end the game and it meant a lot to them because we had lost the game the day before. It was a really big deal to see the kids keep their composure and to hold it even when Atlantic loaded the bases.
“They kept their heads in the game. We tell them all the time to focus from play to play and not to worry about the outcome, and they really did that. The celebration was not just a joyous celebration, but a very emotional one because they fought hard. Once the game ended, they just let it all out.”
The Hollister roster included Corral, Caiden Duff, Anthony Espinoza, Andrew Freitas, Jaxson Jennings, Mason Mead, Tino Munoz III, Andrew Munoz, Breyon Pelaiz, David Quintero, Andrew Ruiz and Cisco Velez. Silas Quintero’s coaching staff included Johnny Corral III and Justin Mead.
The winner-take-all game with Atlantic was a thrilling, back-and-forth contest that featured three ties and four lead changes. Hollister trailed 5-4 after four innings before scoring three times in the top of the fifth to take the lead for good. Quintero had a two-run double and Andrew Freitas an RBI double to account for the mini uprising.
Freitas also pitched the sixth inning to close things out. Tino Munoz pitched the first five innings to put the team in position to win.
“Tino did a really good job and Andrew closed it out,” Silas Quintero said. “And Anthony Espinoza pitched amazing the whole tournament. He started the most games and we had Jaxson Jennings and Tino Munoz come close a few games as well.”
Offensively, Jennings was a force at the plate and hit a home run against King City.
“Jaxson had a big at-bat every time he came up to the plate,” Quintero said. “He and Tino had the best at-bats and Andrew Munoz always came up clutch for us in the No. 9 spot. Breyon and David Quintero also had some good hits.”
Silas Quintero was impressed with Freitas’ consistency at the plate, noting he produced quality at-bats.
“He was a big part of our success,” Quintero said.
Hollister went on to win its first game in the Section 5 Tournament, 10-7 over Aptos, before losing to Union 15-0 and eventual champion Los Altos 9-1 on July 18. Those teams ended up meeting for the championship, won by Los Altos.
The games were held at Los Gatos Little League’s Baggerly Field. Quintero commended the players for their work ethic and credited his coaching staff for being instrumental in the players’ improvement and development.
“The boys worked really hard and put in a lot of effort,” Quintero said. “We’re already looking forward to next year. I think these kids are the future of Hollister Little League as far as the 11-year-old team next year. We’ll continue to work with them, they’ll all be in the Majors (division) next season and they have a bright future.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]klys.com