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June 3, 2011 > Cardinals win Memorial Day Classic

Cardinals win Memorial Day Classic

By Sanjna Shukla
Photos By Mike Heightchew

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 28, through Monday, May 30, Warm Springs Little League held its annual Major Division Memorial Day Classic baseball tournament. Over one hundred major division players (10- to 12-year-olds) participated in the tournament and made it one of the most competitive thus far.

Every year, this tournament proves to be one of the most exciting in Little League baseball. The Classic is not only a breeding ground for exceptional baseball players, but also a weekend full of festivities and food. It is a great place for families to enjoy their weekend and watch a whole lot of baseball. For the players, however, this tournament can get competitive. With 10 teams in the running, and 15 qualifying games, the Memorial Day Classic brings out the best of Major Division baseball.

Warm Springs' Cardinals began and ended their tournament run with 4-3 wins. First, against the Centerville National Little League's Giants, the Cardinals got off on the right foot with a one-run win. They culminated their run with a 4-3 win over the Warm Springs Rangers, winning the title for the second consecutive year.

In between the two one-run wins, the Cardinals made easy work of the Mission San Jose Little League Braves, 16-6. The Braves started out the game and were able to score one run in the top of the first. The Cardinals, however, retaliated and were up 8-1 by the end of the inning. The Braves suffered some defensive setbacks, and many of the Cardinals' runs were due to walks. WSLL Cardinals added another run in the second to take a 9-1 lead. CNLL Braves were able to plate five runs throughout the contest, but the Cardinals tacked on seven more of their own for the 10-run win.

In their last qualifying game, the Cardinals eked out a win against the Centerville American Angels in a pitchers' duel, 2-1. (Due to some undisclosed issues, the Angels were not able to make the tournament. In order to keep the tournament fair, the tournament directors decided to create a team out of players on the other teams, and had them play as the CALL Angels -- exemplifying the sportsmanlike behavior that is encouraged by the Memorial Day Classic.)

As for the Classic's runner up, the Warm Springs Rangers, they also had an exceptional tournament. Unlike the Cardinals, the Rangers lost its first game. They did, however, bounce back on Sunday with a 13-run, 15-2 victory over the CALL Orioles.

On Monday, the Cardinals and the Orioles showed unparalleled endurance as their game went into twelve innings. The game, which lasted nearly three hours, showed how versatile the young players can be. For example, Andy Newman of the Cardinals pitched at the end of the game to hold the Orioles off 5-4. Zain Ahmed, the starting pitcher for the Cardinals, also helped keep the runs against to a minimum.

In the Championship game, the Cardinals broke a fourth-inning 2-2 tie by plating two runs. Rangers were able to cut the lead in half with a run in the top of the fifth inning. The Rangers made one last effort in the sixth inning, but excellent pitching by the Cardinals kept them at bay.

Although the two teams in the championship game were able to dominate in the tournament, there were many other teams that also did exceptionally well. Two such teams were the Centerville American Orioles and the Mission San Jose Giants. These two teams battled it out for third place and had a great tournament overall.

CALL Orioles had a doubleheader on Saturday, and ended up winning both games. Orioles' pitcher Ryan Young did an exceptional job in keeping the CNLL Padres to only four runs in their opening game of the tournament. Niko Gilmore stepped up to the mound in place of Young in the third inning, and the defense was able to prevent any runs.

MSJLL Giants, who beat out the CALL Orioles for third place, had one of the most impressive runs in the whole tournament. Their catcher Cierra Facha hit two homeruns. Facha's homer in the consolation game provided momentum and helped the Giants win the game, 3-0. Her exceptional performance, along with the flawless pitching of Sean Hamardanian, guided the Giants to their third-place finish.

Other notable players included Tebrez Khan of the Warm Springs LL A's and Nick Nunez of the CALL Orioles. Both players did an outstanding job keeping their teams in contention throughout the Classic.

Event Director Rom Villaflor reflected upon the successful weekend. "The tournament is all about the kids, and we want them to get real baseball experience, and have fun while they're doing it."

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