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Dropped third strike helps Lakeside in District 54 11-year-old tourney

By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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EL DORADO HILLS — A dropped third strike no longer is just a strikeout in Little League baseball.

In Lakeside’s case, a dropped third strike opened the door to a berth in the District 54 11-year-old all-star tournament final.

Lakeside scored six runs with two out in the bottom of the second inning, and a dropped third strike allowed R.J. Dumke to crack a grand slam that helped Lakeside score an 11-6 victory over Woodcreek in the winners’ bracket final at Deputy Jeff Mitchell Field.

Lakeside will play either Woodcreek or host El Dorado Hills at 7 p.m. Saturday. Woodcreek and El Dorado Hills meet at 7 p.m. Friday in the losers’ bracket final.

“We certainly feel we’re in good shape to play Saturday,” Lakeside manager Jim Radler said, weighing a potential one-and-done day against the alternative. “We gotta be ready for both scenarios, but at some point, you have to play to win and have faith in your team.”

Woodcreek scored four runs in the first on two-run doubles by Isaiah Hawthorne and Jake Brusa.

Since Little League baseball has been around, a dropped third strike has been nothing but a strikeout. But the organization implemented major-league rules for the dropped third strike just this season — a probable prelude to joining PONY, Cal Ripken and tournament organizationsl in playing by major-league rules at the Major division level — and it made the difference in Lakeside’s big second inning.

“That turned out to be a huge play for us,” Radler said.

Grant Gini clubbed a two-run double. A walk and the dropped third strike loaded the bases for Dumke.

“He’s our monster. He’s had a fantastic tournament,” Radler said. “We do lean on him a lot, but he has the maturity and poise to be that leader.”

Woodcreek rallied to tie in the top of the fifth with Brusa’s sacrifice fly scoring Ryan Harvey with the tying run, but Lakeside scored five in the bottom half on Jayden Kasai’s bases-loaded walk, Gini’s two-run single and a two-run throwing error.