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August 2, 2011 > Season ends for Mission San Jose Little League Seniors

Season ends for Mission San Jose Little League Seniors

By Biff Jones

Two years ago Fremont's Mission San Jose (MSJ) Little League Juniors (13-14 year olds) advanced to the Junior Division Western Regionals in Southern California. To get there they had to win double elimination tournaments in District 14 (Fremont/Newark), Section 3 (East Bay, Peninsula, Tracy area) and Division 2 (Northern California).

In regional play, with the winner moving on to the Little League World Series in each division determined by age, teams participate in a pool-play format with the top two teams in each pool moving to the semifinals. That year MSJ Juniors went undefeated in pool play until they lost the last game. As two other teams in their pool also only had one loss with each team beating each other, MSJ was knocked out of the 2009 Junior Western Regional on a tie breaker.

Fast forward to the present and most of that MSJ Junior team and coaches from 2009 played together in 2010 and 2011 as Senior (15-16 year olds) Little Leaguers. This year, MSJ Seniors went unopposed in the D14 post season. In Section 3, MSJ defeated Granada LL of Livermore and Union City National LL in the double elimination tournament by winning all three of its games played.

Last week's Division 2 (Nor Cal) double elimination tournament in Stockton saw MSJ drop it first game played to Rocklin LL, 12-2, to send them into the loser's bracket with the next loss ending their season. Other Section winners in the six team Nor Cal tournament were Chico Central LL, Oakland LL, Sunnyvale National LL and Turlock LL.

First elimination game on Monday, July 25 against Oakland, MSJ breezed 13-3 in a game called in the sixth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule. Brandon Fuhs had a three-run homer and Ryan Mark a two-run shot. Devon Jones added three hits including a double and Cole Lewis' double started a three-run fifth inning. Wyatt Ott, Kenny Jacoby, Fuhs and James Gaffey shared the pitching duties.

Tuesday, July 26, it was Turlock and MSJ facing off in an elimination game and again MSJ came through with a 9-6 victory behind 11 hits and 11 Turlock base-on-balls. Jacoby had three hits and three RBIs while Ott got the final outs of the game and also added three RBIs.

This game and the Oakland game were played on the secondary field used for the tournament which had an all natural grass field including the base paths and only dirt around the bases, home plate and pitching mound. Whole outfield was also a short porch as the fence was only 300 feet all around.

Final game of the loser's bracket was against Sunnyvale which lost only 10-6 to Rocklin. It was the first time any team Rocklin played this post season kept the final score less than a 10-run differential. Next game against MSJ was not one of Sunnyvale's best as MSJ won easily 15-6. Afterward the Sunnyvale manager said his team could have beaten Rocklin the day before except for one bad inning. However, against MSJ, they just did not play very well.

Jeff Chu, normally the starting center fielder, got the start on the mound and lasted 2 1/3 innings before changing positions with shortstop Jacoby who went the next 3 2/3 innings. Ott pitched the seventh to close out the game. Offensively, Chu and Mark each had three hits while Fuhs had four RBIs and Reid Marion three.

Having survived the loser's bracket, it was time to again meet the beast, Rocklin on Thursday, July 28. To win Nor Cal, MSJ would have to defeat Rocklin twice; first on Thursday then again on Friday.

In MSJ's quest for a fourth straight win, it would be the Brandon Facha show. After giving up two runs on three hits in the top of the first to Rocklin, Facha settled down and only allowed three Rocklin base runners over the final six innings. In addition, Facha helped his own cause with two hits including a solo home run. Jacoby added three hits and Marion and Fuhs two each in the 12-hit MSJ attack as the 7-2 MSJ victory would force a winner-take-all game on Friday.

Friday would see the clock strike midnight on Mission as the game was all Rocklin's. After two quick outs in the bottom of the first, a MSJ fielding error was followed by a Rocklin two-run home run. Top of second, MSJ answered with another solo home run by Facha only to have Rocklin strike for five runs in the bottom of the second.

MSJ would close the gap to 7-2 with a run in the fifth. Once again, Rocklin answered MSJ's single run with another five-run outburst in bottom five to send the Fremont team home 12-2 as the 10-run mercy rule was enacted. It was the same score as the first meeting between MSJ and Rocklin back on July 23. MSJ finished Nor Cal at 4-2 while going 7-2 in post season Little League play.

Next for Rocklin is the nine-team Senior Western Regionals, August 2-9 in Ontario. Winner of West Regionals moves on to the 10-team Senior Little League World Series in Bangor, Maine, Aug. 14-20. Championship game will be televised by ESPNU on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 11 a.m. PT.

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