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July 30, 2008 > Niles-Centerville Little League Seniors' season ends at NorCal Tournament

Niles-Centerville Little League Seniors' season ends at NorCal Tournament

By Biff Jones
Photos By Don Jedlovic

For half of the NCLL Seniors (15-16 year olds) it was the second trip in four years to Division 2 (NorCal) Tournament play, having advanced that far in 2004. After winning the District 14 (Fremont and Newark) tournament, they advanced to the Section 3 tournament, which included other District-winning teams from Livermore to the Peninsula. NCLL would come away the winner of Section 3 Senior Division, hosted by D14, on the fields of Mission San Jose Little League. Now it was on to Divisional play, hosted this year by D5, on the campus of American River College in Sacramento. All three tournaments were double elimination, where it took two losses for a team to be ousted from the competition.

In the first game of divisional play, the Seniors from Niles lost to Almaden of San Jose, 12-7, on Saturday, July 19, and would then have to win five consecutive games in five nights starting on Monday, July 21, to advance to the Western Regional.

The second game for NCLL pitted them against Morada Little League of Stockton in an elimination game for both teams on the July 21. Niles would open the scoring with single runs in the bottom of the first and second. In the first, right fielder Casey Jennings led off with a single. After an out, walks to shortstop Athen Sinodinos and second baseman Robert Higares loaded the bases. First baseman Spencer Romero then hit into a fielder's choice, driving in Jennings. The second inning run came on a two-out single by center fielder Cody Lebon, followed by Jennings' second hit in as many at-bats, as he doubled home Lebon for a 2-0 Niles lead.

The lead would be short lived as Morada answered with two runs each in the top of the third and fourth innings off NCLL starting pitcher, left-hander Donald Anderson, to go up 4-2 after three-and-a-half innings.

However, Niles would come right back in their half of the fourth with three more runs to go back up 5-4 after four. Catcher, Kainoa Cabus, led off with a base-on-balls and scored as Sean O'Hare, pinch hitting for Anderson, was safe on a two-base error. O'Hare then came home on Lebon's second hit of the game, a double, who was later plated on a single by left fielder Jay Haak.

Haak would then relieve Anderson in the top of the fifth and, despite giving up three singles in the inning, did not allow a run as one of Morada's base runners was called out for interference. (In fact, this game had more outs called because of interference along with reversals of calls by the umpires after several umpire conferences, than one would normally see in all of the games of a post season tournament.)

In the sixth, Haak gave up a lead-off single, followed by a sacrifice bunt, but then induced the next two batters to groundout and pop-out, respectfully. Finally, in the top of the seventh, Haak struck out the side, securing the victory to stave off season-ending elimination.

The next day, July 22, saw NCLL facing another elimination game in a return match against Almaden. This time the young men from Niles came away with an 8-6 win to force a third elimination game on Wednesday, July 23, against a very strong North/South Oakland Little League team, who lost a winners' bracket game the night before to Eastern Little League of Carmichael, 9-8. The third time in loser's bracket play would not be the charm for the Niles Seniors, as they were defeated, 13-7, to bring their season to a close. Oakland would then lose again to Eastern, 13-0, to send Eastern to the Senior Western Regional in Upland, Calif., (near Ontario), July 29-August 5, as the champions and representative of Northern California.

Congratulations to the Niles-Centerville Seniors on a terrific season.

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