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Tom Baldwin
3 weeks ago

Last Thursday morning, the Amador West Juniors All-Stars liked their chances of advancing to their third straight Section 6 tournament. They were in the District 15 finals, and their challenger, the Linden All-Stars, would need to beat them twice to move on.

Coach Tom Gold wanted to finish them quickly on Thursday, but Linden took a 2-0 lead and never gave it up, winning 4-1 and forcing a 9 a.m. game on the Fourth of July. Even hits by Sam Madrid and Eli Hammam, and a well-timed hit-by-pitch by Will Fraser late in the 6th inning weren’t enough to bring Amador West back. Noah Skelly pitched well, throwing 6 innings, with 8 strikeouts and only 3 walks, but timely hitting and solid defense by Linden made the difference in game one.

Game two started much better for Amador West. Their fully rested ace, Seth Tomczak, got the start, and Linden went down quietly in the first, grounding out and striking out twice.

Amador’s first two batters of the game were retired, then Johnny Larson started a two-out rally with a single up the middle, and scored on a booming double by Tomczak, giving Amador West an early lead.

In the top of the second inning, pitcher Tomczak and catcher Larson teamed up again on a strike-em out, throw-em out double play, ending a Linden threat. In the bottom of the 2nd, Seth Baldwin hit a ball sharply up the middle and then scored from first on a single to right by Cole Austin, who scored later in the inning on a flare single by Larson, giving Amador West a 3-0 lead after only two innings.

Then trouble started. Linden began the third inning with consecutive singles, and then a walk loaded the bases with no outs. A good defensive play by Sam Madrid got the first out of the inning at home, preventing a run from scoring, but a walk brought in Linden’s first run. A flare to center and another walk scored two more and, just like that, the lead was gone. And Linden was not done. A double, a pair of infield hits and a passed ball brought in 5 more runs. Going into the bottom of the third, it was 8-3, Linden. They added another in the 4th, making it 9-3.

However, this year’s Amador West team is confident and proud, having played together throughout their undefeated regular season, and was not about to give up. The bottom of the 4th started with singles by Gold and Skelly, and Gold scored on a throwing error by the Linden pitcher. Up stepped Tomczak, who delivered once again, with a 2-out double, scoring Skelly. On what looked like a routine infield pop fly that was dropped, Tomczak scored from second on a hustle play, running on contact with two outs. It was Linden, 9, Amador West, 6.

Mason Gold, in the game in relief of Tomcack, held Linden scoreless in the 5th and the 6th. In the bottom of the 6th, Noah Skelly led off with a single and was replaced by pinch runner Seth Baldwin. Larson walked and Baldwin stole 3rd, then scored on a ground out, bringing Amador a step closer, at 9-7.

As the 7th inning started, Amador knew what they had to do. They needed not only to keep Linden from scoring, but also score a couple of runs of their own to extend the game. Gold got the leadoff batter to fly out, and struck out the second batter, but a base hit and two consecutive walks loaded the bases. Coach Tom Gold made a pitching change, bringing in Baldwin, who gave up a two-strike bloop single to right, scoring another run. As Amador West got ready to hit in the bottom of the 7th, they found themselves down, 10-7.

Linden retired Amador west in order, ending the game and the season.

When all was said and done, both players and coaches had to be happy with their season. Since March, the Ione Brewers/Amador West All-Stars lost only two games, which happened to be on the last two days of the season.

For many of the kids, this would be their last Little League game and, although it didn’t end exactly the way they wanted, you can be sure our boys will remember their Little League years fondly.

Copyright © 2014 Amador Ledger Dispatch
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