Woodcreek hammers Lakeside, forces 11-year-old rematch

Teams meet again for district title Tuesday night,
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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With its back against the wall and off to a bad start in a must-win game, Woodcreek dug deep and delivered Monday night at Richards Field. The 11-year-old all-stars from Woodcreek Little League entered the game Monday night as the survivor of the elimination bracket, having replaced their manager that morning, and facing a Lakeside team they had lost to just two days earlier. When this contest opened with Woodcreek tossing the ball all over the lot, there was certainly reason to be concerned. "No concerns taking over this late," said new Woodcreek manager Max Tapia. "This is a group of kids who are baseball players playing baseball. It doest matter who's in charge, they know the game." As the game progressed, neither team shined with the leather as there were seven errors both ways, but Woodcreek unleashed the bats to take a 17-7 win that forces the teams back to the diamond for a winner-take-all Tuesday night final. The District 54 11-year-old tournament now comes down to one game between two teams that do their best work in the batter’s box. On Monday night, Lakeside tallied four times in the first frame, with a whole lot of help from Woodcreek. An error put the leadoff hitter on base, and after an out, Alex Dailey banged a base hit. Brett Walston’s fly ball to right field was lost in the sun, and the miscue jammed the bags for Lakeside. Drew Briare then rolled one about 40 feet up the first base line, but first baseman Joey Pankratz slipped down, allowing Briare to reach on a run-scoring infield hit. The play was far from over, but by the time Woodcreek stopped throwing the ball back and forth across home plate, Lakeside had two more runs and Briare was standing on third base. All told, Woodcreek committed four errors in the first inning. The final run of the inning came from Briare, who scored on a double by Bobby Soran. The Lakeside catcher tried to turn two into three, but he was cut down by a strong Woodcreek relay for the second out. That play may have done wonders for Woodcreek’s confidence. Woodcreek did have an answer, and it came after its first two hitters were retired by Briare, the Lakeside starter. Briare pitched carefully to J.C. Santini and walked him, and then Joey Pankratz doubled and Matthew Ornelas singled to cut the lead in half at 4-2. Ornelas went the distance on the bump for Woodcreek and the strong second stanza played a big role in making that happen. One runner did reach on an error, but Santini threw behind him and picked him off first base. "Very gutty performance by Ornales, as well as Robinson the night before," Tapia said. "We needed both of them and they did what we needed. Right men in the right spots. Pitching is set up well, we couldn't be much better." Woodcreek scored six runs on six hits, with help from three Lakeside errors in the second to essentially put the game away. Jake Gross, Noah Kravich, Santini, Ornelas, Drew Robinson and Jack Tapia all had hits in the big inning. "We were a bit disapointed in our fielding play," said Lakeside manager Mike Briare. "You can not give a good team like that extra outs." Lakeside managed to score two in the third, but Woodcreek doubled them up with four of its own and the rout was on. Home runs by Pankratz, Justin Smith and Jack Rotteveel came in the later innings as Woodcreek sealed its win in five innings by way of the 10- run mercy rule. "We did swing the bats well, but we have the whole tourney, with the exception of a game or two," Tapia said. "Kids who haven't hit HRs in their career have been doing it now. We do expect to see the same Tuesday night." Dailey, Briare and Chris Weber each had two of Lakeside’s 10 hits, while Ornelas had three hits for Woodcreek. Pankratz, Noah Kravich and Drew Robinson each added a pair of knocks in the 15-hit Woodcreek attack. The two teams will be back at Richards Field at 7 p.m. Tuesday night to decide a district champion. The winner will open section play Saturday in Rio Linda. "Baseball is a game of short memories," Briare said. "I think we are all past that game and on to the next thing. Our kids have had a great time this year. They all enjoy playing the game, and in the end that is the most important thing. We are set up well for pitching and we will come out playing hard and trying to win each inning."