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Rough 24 hours ends with critical Woodcreek Junior win

By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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It was not easy, but the Junior division all-star team from Woodcreek Little League will take its 15-9 win over West Sacramento Tuesday night at the Section 4 tournament at Folsom’s Lembi Park. After spending the past 24 hours on an emotional roller coaster, Woodcreek survived 14 West Sac hits while taking full advantage of eight errors and some bad base-running decisions by its opponent in picking up an important tourney victory. The District 54 champions reported to the yard three hours before the 7 p.m. start time for this contest, not knowing if they would need to take on West Sacramento. A marathon game against Rocklin that began on Monday was completed Tuesday evening, after an overnight break due to field curfew and a protest due to Rocklin’s use of an ineligible pitcher. Woodcreek lost that game 7-6, and then remained with a significantly depleted pitching staff to battle West Sac, with a berth in Wednesday’s final against Rocklin hanging in the balance. The opening play of the game told one of night’s biggest stories as Woodcreek leadoff man Stephen Nogosek hit a cue shot towards the West Sac first baseman. The slow roller went right between the fielder’s legs and Nogosek was aboard on the first of West Sacramento’s eight miscues. Woodcreek scored twice in that stanza, with just a single hit (a Joey Valdez RBI single). West Sacramento responded with three runs on three hits to take the early lead. A Nogosek double and a two-run base hit off the bat of Joey Dirkes were the big blows as Woodcreek posted three in the second, only to see the game tied after Justin Rozell and Thomas Salvino hit back-to-back doubles in the home half. It could have been a bigger total for West Sac, but for the first of a series of base-running gaffes, as a well-executed relay from Woodcreek left fielder Austin McCarty to shortstop Nogosek to third baseman Tyler Milani cut down one runner looking to get an extra 90 feet. While it did not put the game away, another big crooked number helped Woodcreek create some separation in the top of the third stanza. The inning began with a George Corp two-bagger followed by singles from Derek Guerra and Bobby Pajer, but it really got interesting when Milani’s two-out pop to short was dropped as two runners crossed home plate. The five-run frame gave Woodcreek a 10-5 advantage after three innings. For Valdez, it was a battle all night long on the bump, as he was constantly pitching with runners on base, yet the lead provided a steadying influence. Woodcreek added an 11th run, without benefit of a hit, in the fourth frame, and the extra cushion was nice to have when Andrew Prizmich and Rozell struck again in the bottom of the fourth. That duo at the top of the West Sacramento order was a thorn in Woodcreek’s side the entire game, and in the fourth, Prizmich’s single was followed by a two-run Rozell double to pull their team within three at 11-8. From there, the bullpen work of West Sac’s Christian Irwin and Woodcreek’s Nick Hoag took it the rest of the way. Both relievers slowed down the pace of the scoring as Hoag allowed a single tally in the sixth, while a hit batter in the seventh pushed across Woodcreek’s final run against Irwin. The win sets up Woodcreek/Rocklin II Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Lembi Park. A Rocklin win would end the tournament with it as the chanpion, while a Woodcreek victory would extend the event one more day to a winner-take-call Thursday final.