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July 29, 2009 > SLL Section 3 finals go down to the wire

SLL Section 3 finals go down to the wire

By Biff Jones

Undefeated Union City American and once beaten Niles-Centerville of Fremont played the Championship game of the double elimination Section 3, Senior Little League Tournament on Wednesday, July 22, at Sequoia High School in Redwood City.

Brandon Yau started on the mound for UCA while NC sent southpaw, Matt Knight, to the hill.

UCA scored first with a run in their half of the first inning and added single runs in the third and fourth innings. NC would answer with a single run in the first, then six in the bottom of the third and four more in the fourth for a 9-3 lead after four innings.

Yau went two and two-thirds innings for UCA and was relieved by Anthony Armho who pitched the next one and a third innings. Ralph Delgadillo came on in the fifth to finish up for UCA.

Knight would go the distance for NC as the game ended with two outs in the bottom of the sixth when NC tacked on four more runs to make the score 13-3, called because of the 10-run mercy rule and forced a winner-take-all game the next day.

Leading the offense for UCA was Joe Armstrong, with a walk and a solo home run; Ryan Loeffler, two singles; and Delgadillo, along with Julian Grona, each a double.

Hit parade for NC was led by Knight with a double and three singles; Brice Fryan, a single and a two-run home run; Justin Dhanda, a home run; and Cody Lebon, two singles and reached base on an error.

For Lebon, it was a tough game as he was hit by a pitch twice in the same inning - the first causing him to see stars when it hit him in the batting helmet. In the next half inning, Lebon came up lame after making a diving catch in center field. Somehow, he was able to continue to play.

In the winner-take-all game on Thursday, July 24, it was a horse of a different color. Ace Armstrong took the rubber for UCA while Dhanda started for NC. Both starters would pitch brilliantly.

Armstrong would face the minimum number of batters over the first six innings as the only two base runners for NC, both singles, were thrown out on the bases. In the bottom of the seventh, NC loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a walk. However, UCA got out of the jam as Armstrong induced a come-backer, and he turned it into a 1-2-3 double play. Armstrong gave up four singles and a walk while striking out five in his seven innings of work.

Dhanda would pitch equally as well for NC as he only game up five hits and two walks, also striking out five, in his seven innings on the mound. Thus the game would go into extra innings tied, 0-0.

In the top of the eighth, Dhanda, after giving up the two walks with one out, was able to get out of trouble unscathed. Armstrong, on the other hand, was not able to toe the rubber in the bottom of the eighth as he had hit the maximum pitch count of 95, allowed by Senior LL pitchers.

In came Brandon Orias to pitch the eighth for UCA. First two batters of the inning reached base on Dhanda's single and Knight's hit-by-pitch. Both runners would advance on a wild pitch putting runners on second and third with no outs.

With the infield and outfield drawn in, Pierce Romero, after striking out twice in his two at bats against Armstrong, lashed a base hit into the right center field gap to send UCA packing for 2009 and putting NC in the Division 2 Nor Cal Tournament.

Leading hitters for both teams were the catchers, Grona of UCA and Casey Jennings of NC, each with two singles.

TCV would like to thank little league district administrators John Christiansen of D52, Reggie Torres of D14 and Mike Debone of D45, along with D45 Secretary/Treasurer Jerry Barry for their assistance in writing this article.

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