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July 1, 2009 > WSLL "Blue" All-Stars advance in D14 tourney

WSLL "Blue" All-Stars advance in D14 tourney

Submitted By Kevin Sullivan

The Warm Springs Little League (WSLL) "Blue" All-Stars beat Newark American Little League, 7-4, on Sunday, June 28, to advance in the District 14 All-Stars Tournament.

It was a fiercely contested game with Warm Springs able to rally late in the game for a hard-earned victory. Coupled with a first-round win of 18-3 over Fremont American Little League, Warm Springs now moves on to the third round of the tournament.

Tebrez Khan, recovering from a bout of walking pneumonia that sidelined him for the first game, got the starting nod. In the top of the first inning, Newark jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead with a ferocious hitting display. The lead could have been much larger, but a bang-bang first base to home double play from Ahmed Zain to Taran Nijjar ended the inning.

Warm Springs got on the board in the bottom of the second with Cal Bridges racing home and just beating the throw on an infield ground ball hit by Taran Nijjar. Newark responded in the top of the third with a run to rebuild a two- run lead, 3-1.Despite a leadoff single by Darrik Bushaw to start the third inning, Warm Springs was unable to mount a rally.

With strong pitching and defense, the score remained 3-1 with Newark leading until the bottom of the fourth. Khan pitched four efficient innings, throwing only 45 pitches, and kept Warm Springs close in hopes of a late rally. Key catches were made by center fielders Simon Ramirez and Nathaniel Sullivan to help the cause.

In the bottom of the fourth, Warm Springs finally pulled even. A clutch one-out, two-strike ground rule double hit to the left field gap by Victor Cheng scored Bridges and Eric Cao to even the score. It was now a two inning game to determine who would advance.

Nate Schmitz was brought in to relieve Khan in the top of the fifth after a leadoff single. Newark continued their strong hitting with a double to the right-center gap to retake the lead, 4-3. The runner, however, was thrown out trying to take third and Schmitz used this momentum turning play to quickly retire two of the next three batters to end the inning.

As the top of the order came to bat, and the cry of "Let's go Warm Springs" rang out from the crowd, Warm Springs was poised to rally. Four of the first five batters scored, with key RBIs by Bridges and Nijjar, to break the game open. The key play of the inning was by Schmitz, as he raced home on an overthrow to third and vaulted an obstructing catcher to score the go ahead run. Chris Docena scored the final run as a pinch runner and Warm Springs exited the fifth inning with a 7-4 lead.

After a leadoff single to start the top of the sixth, Bridges came in to try to get the save. Nijjar made a great play in gunning down the runner attempting to steal second for the first out of the inning, and Bridges followed with a strikeout. Two batters later, Bridges induced a grounder to shortstop as Schmitz flipped the ball to Nick Bugbee at second, ending the game.

The fans cheered as Manager Bobby Nijjar and Coach Waqas Khan joined their players on the field in the handshake line to congratulate Newark on a well-played and hard fought game. Warm Springs now advances to the third round with their next game to be played Wednesday, July 1, at Mattos Elementary.

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