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June 28, 2011 > Short bench catches up with Milpitas A's

Short bench catches up with Milpitas A's

By Biff Jones

Milpitas Little League A's of the Junior (13-14 year olds) Division started the season with 12 players. After one player was dismissed from the team for missing games and practices, and a set of twins decided to end their baseball season early, the A's were down to the minimum nine players needed to play. Thus, no one gets to take a game, an inning or a pitch off for any kind of an injury or illness.

Last Sunday, June 19, Milpitas played Oak Valley Giants in a District 59 (Milpitas and San Jose) Junior Tournament of Champions (TOC) quarterfinal single-elimination game at Milpitas Sports Complex. Milpitas pulled out a 9-7 win, but used up the pitch count of their two top players Sid Navales and Jason Scrempos. Under Little League rules, these Navales and Scrempos cannot pitch again until they have had four days rest because of the number of pitches thrown.

So in the Junior TOC semifinal game on Tuesday, June 21, at Milpitas Sports Complex, A's manager Eddie Bell had to use regular shortstop, Kevin Fizer, as his starting pitcher, a move that drastically weakened his infield defense.

Milpitas' weakened defense was exploited in the top of the first as the visiting Gilroy White Sox led off with a single. Sox catcher (who would go 4-5 on the day) then blasted a triple to the left-field fence and later scored on an error by the A's shortstop playing out of position to give the Sox an early 2-0 lead.

Milpitas answered in the bottom of the second as catcher Trevor Jimeniz led off the inning by reaching on a Gilroy error. Fizer then drew a walk and, after two outs, centerfielder Miguel Gonzales delivered the A's only hit over the first four innings, a two-run double down the right field line to tie the score.

Each team would score one run each in the third with Milpitas' run coming on walks to third baseman Eric Kuhne, Fizer and first baseman Scrempos and a White Sox error. Innings four, five and six almost all belonged to Gilroy.

In the fourth, Gilroy scored six runs on two hits, three walks and numerous A's mental and physical errors. Fizer was relieved after 3 1/3 innings of work by starting catcher Jimenez. After finally getting out of the fourth, Jimenez walked the first three batters in the fifth and was removed from the mound in favor of second basemen Travis Bell. Bell was able to find the strike zone but the Sox batters found his pitches to their liking as they immediately belted two doubles and a sacrifice fly.

After a five-run fifth by Gilroy, A's trailed 14-3 in the middle of the fifth and needed to score at least two runs in the bottom half to avoid 10-run mercy rule. White Sox starting pitcher got two quick outs and then was removed from the mound because of his pitch count.

Milpitas immediately took advantage as Jimenez delivered the A's second hit of the day, a triple to the fence. Fizer followed with a walk and then stole second. With the help of a Gilroy error and Scrempos following single, Milpitas got the two runs it needed to send the game into the sixth, down 14-5.

With Bell still on the mound, Sox scored three more times in the top of the sixth; after a lead off single by Gonzales in the bottom of the sixth, he was thrown out on the bases. And the next two A's batters went down quietly to give Gilroy a 17-5 victory, called after six innings on the mercy rule.

Next up for a number of the A's players is the D59 Junior All Star tournament, in which they will combine with other Milpitas Little League teams to form a 14-man roster, allowing the A's players some breathing room for pitchers, players, injuries and illness.

For all schedules and results of the 2011 Little League All Star season in all age groups for Districts 14 (Fremont and Newark) and 45 (Castro Valley, Hayward, San Leandro, San Lorenzo and Union City), along with D59, check out the TCV Sports website, http://sports.tricityvoice.com.

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