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Tri-City closes out Woodcreek in 11-year-old tourney

By: Brett Ransford, Press Tribune Correspondent
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Tuesday night back at Babe Best Park in Rio Linda the two best 11-year-old all-star teams in the Section 4 Tournament met in the championship decider. Woodcreek and Tri-City faced off for the second time in the tournament. Unbeaten in Section 4 the Tri-City all-stars had the advantage of the double-elimination pressure against Woodcreek. The Roseville stars took their only previous tournament loss in the Section 4 opener to Tri-City 15-2. After five innings at the park the Tri-City all-stars claimed the 11-year-old Section 4 title beating Woodcreek for a second time 13-3. In the tournament Tri-City has done nothing short of blow out every team it faced Going into the bottom of the fifth up 4-3 Tri-City would need an improbable nine runs added to their scoreboard to deny Woodcreek any chance at a comeback.Tri-City fans got one incredible offensive show in the bottom of five as their team plated nine runs on nine hits. The Section-title winning half inning began on a double off the left field wall by Jack Crowse. It was the first of four solid shots to some part of the outfield fence. They scored their first on a squeeze bunt for the 5-3 lead. A walk forced in a run and was followed by a bases clearing, three-run triple to the center field wall by Justin Erickson. Lefty Fernando Lobra added a two-run home run as Woodcreek went through three pitchers in the inning. The run the ended the game early by the 10-run mercy rule came in dramatic fashion. Kyle McGrath touched a single through the infield into center field scoring one run easily and s second on a close play at the plate. Matthew Ornelas made the throw home in time for Jack Rotteveel to put on a tag. The tag was just a half-second too late as the umpire threw out his arms and the 13th run slid in for the win. “We’ve had our backs against the wall, we’ve shown up for every one of five games in five days and we gave these guys a game today,” said Woodcreek Manager Max Tapia. “That sun was a bear for the right fielders and a couple of balls were hit that way and couldn’t make a play on them. Both teams are teams with some serious ball players and we can’t be disappointed in that.” In the tournament opener Tri-City bolstered ten runs through the first three outs. This time in the title game Woodcreek managed the first runs. Noah Kravich lifted the first pitch of the game from Jason Schafer to center field. With one on and two out after a fly out and strikeout Pankratz did what he’s done all tournament and brought in runs. He jacked a 2-1 pitch over left center for a two-run, first inning home run. Tri-City matched scoring in the bottom of two in similar fashion as Kyle McGrath poked the first pitch of his at bat to right field tying the game at 2-2 going into the third. Woodcreek starter J.C. Santini was lights out throwing seven strikeouts in his 3 1/3 innings. On the back of the 2-0 top of the first Santini dropped in a zero-spot with three strikeouts. Pankratz nearly took a 3-2 lead in the third with a soft shot about twelve inches foul on the left field edge of the grass. Justin Smith singled in a run in the fourth to take that one run lead beating out a double play ball ending at first. In the bottom of four it got a little dicey for Woodcreek and Tri-City didn’t miss a beat to jump on it. Leadoff man Scott Randall hit a soft fly ball to right field that was lost in the sun and a runner touched home. Schafer placed one on the back of the infield toward left and that was enough for Manager John McGrath and his team to take the lead. “It’s those kids in the bottom of the lineup that have been coming through for us the whole time. That’s how you score runs, you get the bottom guys on base and the top ones bring them in,” said McGrath. “I knew this group of kids had what it takes to compete at these levels and I know they have what it takes to compete at the next levels. This is what the kids have worked hard for and they deserve it.” Schafer had the game-ending RBI and the start on the mound. He struck out five Woodcreek batters in 4 2/3 innings allowing four runs and drove in two on the other side of the inning. Tri-City continues on in their quest now exposed to regional all-star talent. Their next opponent will be an all-star team from the Stockton area as they test their skills against the state’s best.