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Woodcreek all stars rally late to top Tri-City in 9-10s

By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Baseball fans couldn’t ask for more drama than what transpired during Monday’s 9-10 all-star battle between Tri-City Little League and Woodcreek at Land Park in Sacramento. Woodcreek rallied for three runs in the top of the sixth and final inning and held on to win the Section 4 game 11-10. Tri-City loaded the bases with one out in the last of the sixth inning but couldn’t score off Woodcreek reliever Joey Pankratz. Tri-City’s Justin Erickson, the No. 3 hitter who had already doubled three times in the game, came up to the plate with two outs and the bases packed with excited teammates. The slugger drilled the ball to deep right field but Woodcreek outfielder Casey Fischbach went back and made a snow-cone catch to end the game. Half of the baseball was visible, sticking out of the top of his glove. Woodcreek’s victorious dog-pile followed as the Tri-City players dealt with the reality of the close to their all-star season. Woodcreek advanced to a Tuesday game against Antelope National at Land Park. The winner of that game will play the host team, Land Park, for the title. “All the drama in the world,” said Woodcreek manager Mike Baron, joking after the game that he may not be able to handle another game like this one. “Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t,” Tri-City manager John McGrath said. “(Erickson’s) definitely our best hitter and that’s who we want up in that situation. That ball drops (the rest of the way out of Fischbach’s glove) and we win . . . Our top two pitchers (Erickson and Jason Schafer) were not eligible to pitch (in this game) and we came back.” Woodcreek jumped ahead 5-0 in the top of the first inning as JC Santini hit a three-run homer, Drew Robinson walked with the bases loaded and Fischbach drove in a run with a single. Tri-City responded with two runs in the last of the first as a RBI double by Erickson was the big blow. Woodcreek scored once in the second (Dominic Rucker RBI) and Tri-City plated three runs in the bottom half of the inning when Matt Dennis smashed a three-run homer to left-center. This made the score 6-5 Woodcreek after just two innings. Woodcreek scored twice more in the third (Matthew Ornelas RBI double being the big hit) and Tri-City answered with one run later in the inning (Kyle McGrath RBI single). Tri-City, with reliever McGrath on the mound, then blanked Woodcreek in the fourth and fifth innings while Tri-City scored twice in both innings. Tri-City’s Alex Baur hit a two-run double in the fourth inning while Erickson did the same in the fifth. Woodcreek replaced Santini, the starting pitcher, with Pankratz with one out in the fourth inning. Tri-City led 10-8 entering the top of the sixth and final inning. Pankratz led off the sixth inning with a homer and Jake Gross (walk) and Colton Baron followed him up by getting on base. Tri-City then replaced McGrath with Dennis on the mound and Woodcreek scored on two-out RBI singles by Fischbach and Jake Bianchi. “(Woodcreek is) a good hitting team and we knew they could come back,” John McGrath said. “And they hit a few pitches and we made a couple mistakes. And in (all-star competition) we lost three games by a total of four runs . . . I’m very proud of (Tri-City). These guys are nine and 10 and District champions and they battled a very tough Woodcreek team twice. They never gave up.” Woodcreek also beat Tri-City 7-5 on Saturday before Tri-City topped College Glen 12-4 Sunday to stay alive in this double-elimination tournament. “The bottom half of the order really came through,” said Baron about Monday’s win. Fernando Loera went 3-for-3 and was hit by a pitch for Tri-City while Schafer reached base all five times. Woodcreek’s Ornelas was 3-5 with two RBI while Pankratz was 3-for-4, including his key homer in the sixth inning.