Lakeside finally runs out of gas
The schedule resembled that of many high school summer programs: 18 games in 31 days.
But this was Lakeside Little League’s Major all-star team playing that schedule. By the time its postseason run ended Wednesday night, its tank empty in a 3-0 loss to Petaluma Valley in the losers’ bracket final of the Northern California State Championship, manager Steve Dailey had witnessed a growth spurt by his 12-year-olds.
“We literally just kept growing and growing the whole time,” said Dailey, whose team earned District 54 and Section 4 championship banners and finished third in the NorCal tournament at Chico Eastside Little League. “The reality is, we played six elimination games, and we won five of them: three in districts, two in Chico. Nothing phased us. This is a mentally tough team that grew accustomed to playing tight games.”
That included Lakeside’s first four games in Chico, the last another seven-inning victory over Madera National, this one ending 7-6 on Tuesday. Lakeside beat Madera National 3-2 in seven in its opener last Saturday.
Matt Voelker’s three-run homer gave Lakeside a 6-4 lead, but a Madera National bomb in the sixth sent the game to extra innings.
Cole Jacobi led off the seventh with a single and came around to score the go-ahead run on three passed balls.
Starter Darren Nelson struck out eight before reaching his pitch limit. Alex Dailey struck out seven and allowed just two base runners in 2 2/3 innings for the win. Nelson finished the tournament with 18 strikeouts in eight innings.
Come Wednesday, Lakeside was held to one hit by 6-foot-2 Petaluma Valley pitcher Elijah Chirco, who walked one and struck out 10.
“We were fried mentally after that. Four one-run games. Two extra-inning games. Five games in five days. It’s just difficult,” Dailey said of the Madera National game. “(Chirco) just shut us down. He threw real hard. Good morning, good afternoon, good night.”
Brad Fina had the hit for Lakeside and made two big defensive plays at third. Pitcher Jacob Baranowski allowed two hits and struck out seven in 4 2/3 innings.
“He pitched well, but we just couldn’t do anything,” Dailey said.
Lakeside went 14-4 in that 31-day blitz. Dailey said Lakeside was perhaps one ace short of being a Williamsport team.
“It was just a great experience,” he said.