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July 27, 2010 > UCA off to fast start at Nor Cal tourney

UCA off to fast start at Nor Cal tourney

By Biff Jones

Union City American Senior Little League from District 45 had to battle through the losers' bracket of the Section 3 double elimination tournament last week in Livermore, but behind the strong pitching of Joe Armstrong, UCA won over District 67's Tracy American, 5-1, on Friday, July 23, to move on to the Division 2 Nor-Cal Tournament which began on Saturday, July 24, at Los Altos High School.

In its first game representing Section 3, UCA battled it out against Section 4 Rocklin on July 24 - with the game shifting to Palo Alto for scheduling conflicts. (The Nor Cal tourney is made up of sections 1-6, with the winner going on to the West Regional tournament.)

This game turned into a 12 inning barn burner that also burned the pitching staffs of both clubs.

Rocklin started fast as they got to UCA pitchers Aaron Acosta, who went the first four innings, and Anthony Armijo, who threw the next three innings, for seven runs and held a 7-4 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning.

With one out in UCA's seventh and two runners on base, shortstop Brandon Yau, hitless on the day, found a pitch in his wheelhouse and belted it for a game-tying, three-run homerun to send the game into extra innings.

Yau then took the mound to start the eighth and both teams' bats went doormat. After nothing but goose eggs went up on the board over the next four innings, Rocklin added a run to go up 8-7 in the 12th. However, UCA was not done as their first three hitters - catcher Ralph Delgadillo, Armijo and Ryan Loeffler - all singled. Delgadillo was plated on the Loeffler single to tie the game. Armstrong followed with a ground ball and it was thrown wildly, allowing the winning run to score and send UCA onto the winners' bracket, 9-8.

Game two for UCA on Sunday at Los Altos High saw them face Section 5, Branham Hills of San Jose. Loeffler took the mound for UCA and, based on a coin flip, UCA took the field first. Branham wasted no time as leadoff hitter, pitcher Kevin Wood, led off with a walk. After an out, a single, double and a sacrifice fly Branham Hills plated two runs for a 2-0 lead.

UCA came right back with a run when Armstrong singled with two outs, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Indo Dhahan.

Bottom of the second saw UCA score three runs and take the lead, 4-2. Highlight of the inning was a two-run double by Delgadillo. In the top of the third Branham answered back with a run to cut the lead to 4-3.

Home team half of the fourth had UCA third baseman Shahbaz Khan lead off with a single. After an out, Armijo reached on an error and Loeffler loaded the bases with a single. Tom McCormick relieved Wood for Branham on the mound, and after his first pitch to Armstrong was high and tight, his second pitch left the park to give UCA the lead, 8-3, on a grand slam homer.

After the game, UCA manager Jamie Delgadillo said, "One of these days people are going to quit pitching to Joe."

Dhahan came in from right field to pitch to start the fifth and he shut out Branham Hills the rest of the way. UCA would add a run in their half of the fifth and two more in the sixth for an 11-3 victory.

Leading UCA hitters were Armstrong who also walked; Dhahan, three singles; Khan, two singles and a walk; and Delgadillo who added a single to his double.

Next up for UCA is Section 1, Oakland LL, on Tuesday, July 27, with the first pitch at 5:30 p.m. at Los Altos High in a battle of the two remaining unbeaten teams. Winner of this game will play in the championship game on Thursday, only needing to win one out of two to advance to the Western Regional next week at Ontario, Calif. (Should the unbeaten team lose on Thursday, the same two teams would play the winner-take-all game on Friday, July 30.)

Now all Manager Delgadillo has to do is figure out who to start Tuesday's game as Armstrong, (four days) and Acosta, Armijo, Yau and Loeffler (three days) all are mandated rest time because of pitch counts from their last outings.

Loser of Tuesday's game plays again on Wednesday with that game's winner playing in the Thursday game. For all scores and future match-ups, go to the TCV Sports website, sports.tricityvoice.com.

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