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July 2, 2013 > District 14 takes championship

District 14 takes championship

Submitted By Ed Hugo, Photo by Mike Heightchew

June 28, 2013
As the final out of the game nestled securely in centerfielder Austin Robles glove, players, coaches, parents and fans of the District 14 Big League all-star team began to celebrate their Section 3 tournament championship. It took eight heart-pounding innings to seal the 3-2 victory.

District 14 pitcher Thomas Rodriguez was on the mound when the final out was made just as he was in District 14's previous victory over District 57. But this time Rodriguez added a game winning base hit in the top of the eighth inning to his list of accomplishments as well as shutting down the potent District 57 offense in the bottom of the inning to seal the victory.

With both teams expecting a low-scoring ballgame, District 14 sent Brandon Fuhs to the mound to face District 57's Ryan Flayler. Flayer was nearly unhittable the first three innings as he racked up four strikeouts while allowing a harmless single to District 14 leadoff man Kenny Jacoby in the first inning. Fuhs struggled with his control early on walking two batters and hitting another in the first inning but he was able to pitch out of the jam.

Fuhs was not as fortunate in the second inning as District 57 tallied the game's first two runs. After Fuhs retired the first two batters in routine fashion, Jack Sawyer started the rally with a single. Kevin Rogers followed with a double down the leftfield line to place runners on second and third. Jordan Thrailkill then drove both runs home with a line drive double off of the right field fence to put District 57 ahead, 2-0.

The score remained 2-0 until the top of the fourth inning when the District 14 offense came alive to tie the score. Robles led off the inning with a line drive single down the right field line. Scott Havard followed Robles with a walk. Clean-up hitter Zach Souza then attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt. The bunt rolled up the third base line a few feet from home plate and District 57 catcher Thrailkill pounced on it, spun and threw to first. But his throw was high and sailed over the outstretched glove of first baseman Sawyer and rolled down the right field line. Robles scored easily from second base and Havard, hustling all the way, scored from first base as he was safe on a bang-bang tag play at the plate to tie the score. Souza ended up at third base on the play and, with no outs, District 14 appeared to be in excellent shape to take the lead but Flayer buckled down and retired the side, stranding Souza by striking out the two next batters and getting the third out on a routine groundball to second baseman Ryan Dearborn.

It looked as if District 57 would take the lead right back in the bottom of the fourth inning as Sawyer's bad hop ground ball scooted through the infield and he raced all the way to third base on the play. District 14's relief pitcher Havard then had the task of facing the top of the District 57 batting order with a runner on third and no outs. But Havard was up to the task, much like Flayler in the top of the inning, as he retired the next three batters and stranded Sawyer on third providing a big lift for District 14.

The game remained tied until the eighth inning when Rodriguez provided his game-winning heroics. James Gaffey started the winning rally with a one-out walk. Patrick Andresen was then hit by a pitch moving Gaffey into scoring position. Rodriguez came to the plate and lined a base hit to left center to drive home Gaffey with what proved to be the winning run.

Armed with a 3-2 lead, Rodriguez, who had come in to relieve Havard in the sixth inning, pitched a one-two-three bottom of the eighth inning with a big assist from catcher Souza who threw out his second base runner of the game. All that was left was for the last fly ball to nestle into Robles' glove in center field and the players, coaches, parents and fans of the District 14 all-stars to celebrate the Section 3 championship.

District 14 now moves onto the Division II (Northern California) tournament that begins on Saturday, July 6 at American River College in Sacramento. The winner of that tournament heads to Bremerton, WA for the Big League Western Regional tournament.

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