Maidu Rays get combined no-no in TOC opener

Harrigan fans 10 in four-plus innings of work
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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Pitching was the story of the Maidu Rays 1-0 win over the Angels of Folsom American Saturday at Kuntz Field in Folsom. The two squads combined for just two hits in an epic pitcher’s duel in the opening round of the Little League District 54 Major Division Tournament of Champions. Maidu’s Coleman Harrigan was overpowering for four innings. He took a perfect game into the fifth as he struck out 10 of the first 12 batters that he faced. Folsom American’s Josh Hook opened the game with a ground ball to first base and then bunted into an out leading off the fourth, but the other 10 who walked to the dish went back empty. The Angels’ Eli Wood matched Harrigan much of the way with a little help from the Rays. Maidu had runners erased attempting delayed steals in both the first and fourth frames, but managed to string together just enough offense in the home half of the second to claim victory and extend their season. Wood got the first two batters in that inning before an infield single by Michael Kirby and a base hit by Dylan Cole turned into the game’s only run. While the Maidu runners circled the bases, the ball was juggled in right field and then thrown away, Kirby to reach the plate. The contest got interesting in the Folsom fifth. Harrigan hit a batter to open the stanza and then the pitcher mishandled a bunt attempt to put two runners aboard with no one out. With the Angels in the bottom segment of the order, it was not the end of the world, but that was the last hitter Harrigan faced. Looking to save his hurler to pitch sooner as the tournament moves ahead, Maidu manager Greg Zanolli went to the bullpen with Harrigan at the 50-pitch mark. Joseph Zanolli got the call and after a sacrifice bunt moved the runners up 60 feet to prime scoring position, the right-hander fanned the next two batters to slam the door on the threat. Wood struck out the side in the Maidu fifth to give his team a chance, down just 1-0 in the top half of the sixth. Zanolli walked the No. 9 hitter, Caleb Watson, on four pitches and then, nearing the 20 pitch limit in order to stay eligible to throw in Sunday’s second round, yielded the hill to Michael Birch. The third Ray pitcher got a fly ball out to right fielder (48) and a pair of ground ball outs to put the Angels away and send Maidu on to the second round. The three Maidu pitchers combined to no-hit Folsom American. The TOC is a single elimination tournament featuring the top two regular season Major division teams from all of the leagues in District 54. The Maidu champions will now face the Athletics, the second place unit from Woodcreek Little League, a first round winner over Ponderosa A. The game will begin at 7 p.m. Sunday at Kuntz Field. The winner of that matchup will move on to the quarterfinal round Tuesday night. This half of the Major TOC draw is being played at Kuntz, with the other half playing at Folsom’s Mann Park. The winners of each bracket will get together Thursday night at Kuntz for the district title contest.