Ten-team field makes for competitive 11-year-old tourney

Junior Pool C attracts the heavy hitters
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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This year’s District 54 10 and 11-year-old all-star tournament is the only one being contested in and around the Roseville/Granite Bay area, as these teams will gather at Lakeside Little League’s Feist Park. With just 10 teams in the field, this year’s new pool play format will feature two five-team brackets at this age group, with just four (the top two in each pool) moving on to a four-team double-elimination final. Those numbers make every game in the opening round of competition very critical. Lakeside The host team shares a bracket with Maidu, Gold Rush, Folsom American and Ponderosa, leaving tough duty to advance. The core of this team reached the finals of last year’s 9/10-year-old tourney and coach Richard Sutch is confident they are ready for this new challenge. “This year the pitching staff is seven players deep, and determining starters is difficult as all the boys are fine pitchers in their own right,” Sutch said. Darren Nelson, Ryan Ingersoll, Tyler Farr, Steven Ponzo, Jack Sutch, Ryan Brown and Nick Dumke will all share the bump for the Lakeside all-stars. Offensively, Lakeside sends to the plate six players who demonstrated home run power during the regular season and in TOC play in Charlie Tooley, Ryan MacIntosh, Dumke, Ponzo, Nelson and Jack Sutch. “With the new pool format, we expect highly competitive games each and every time we take the diamond,” Richard Sutch said. “Last year Lakeside played most of these teams, and with leagues merging, we expect only better competition. Despite the fine level of play we know will come from the other teams in our pool, we strongly feel we remain competitive and if we play our game, can earn a berth in the next round.” Maidu In that same bracket, Maidu brings an athletic team that includes a number of players who were part of Roseville East’s strong run a year ago. Four 11-year-olds are part of the league’s major team, but manager Brian Alvarez still likes his team’s chances. “The Maidu 10/11's look very athletic with lots of team speed,” Alvarez said. “As long as we play hard, hustle and play as a team, what shows on the scoreboard at the end of the game, we know is our best effort.” Jake Monsour, Michael Birch, Peter Schofield, Brandon Bermel, Kevin Moss, Jordan Couch and Adam Alvarez will lead the way. Alvarez is concerned with the difficulty of the Maidu schedule, as his team will contest three of its four pool-play games on three consecutive days. “Maidu 10/11's drew a very poorly scheduled pool-play bracket,” Alvarez said. We play three games in three days while other teams have at least a day off between games to rest pitchers under Little League rules. Since we have some depth in pitching this year, we think we will be able set a rotation based on the game status and have several players that can throw and protect the pitching rotation.” Woodcreek The team that reached the Northern California Divisional tourney a year ago as 10-year-olds returns largely intact for Woodcreek manager Mike Watari. “The team looks stronger this season as the boys have matured and played more high-level baseball through the year,” Watari said. “This year's team is made up essentially of players that can play at any position. This makes my job easier as a manager especially with the pitch count and minimum play rules that we have to abide by nowadays.” Just about everyone on the Woodcreek roster can pitch, which gives Watari a lot of options. The key to it all for his squad comes from its depth and talent with the leather. “I strive to develop good defensive teams so we work hard with these boys to teach them several different positions,” Watari said. Roseville West Kirk Hall, the manager of the Roseville West squad refers to his bracket as the “pool of death” because it includes such powerhouse units as Woodcreek and the two leagues from El Dorado Hills. “We have been put in one of the toughest pools in all the divisions,” Hall said. “There are going to be a lot of tough battles between Woodcreek, EDH North, EDH South, Folsom National, and ourselves.” Led by the pitching of Andrew Hansen, Austin Hall, and Spencer Bracco, Roseville West believes it can survive and advance. Hall stresses his team’s mental approach to the game, and feels that aspect of their preparation will determine ultimate success. “We preach to the boys that they will make physical errors, but it is the mental errors that will lose ball games for us,” Hall said. The 11-year-old tournament is being hosted by Lakeside Little League at Feist Park beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday. FYI: What: District 54 10/11-year-old all-star tournament Where: Feist Park, Granite Bay Saturday: Maidu vs. Folsom American, 9 a.m.; Roseville West vs. Folsom National, 11:30 a.m.; Lakeside vs. Gold Rush, 2 p.m. Sunday: Roseville West vs. Woodcreek, 9 a.m.; Maidu vs. Ponderosa, 11:30 a.m. For daily results and schedules, come back often to