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Tom Baldwin
06/26/2014 1:50 PM

As the 12 members of the Amador West All-Star team prepare for this Saturday’s opening game of the District 15 tournament, two players in particular have a lot on their minds. Since it was less than 11 months ago, the incredible memories of last year’s State Tournament still hang thick in the air for returning players Mason Gold and Seth Baldwin. I had a chance to talk to both of them at a recent tune-up for the District 15 tournament, at Howard Park, in Ione. I asked them what they remembered most about their trip to the State finals. Not surprisingly, they had a lot to say.

Mason Gold is the diminutive, switch-hitting lead-off man of the ACLLW All-Stars, affectionately known as “Tiny.” While Mason may be small in stature, he is a beast on the diamond. He was among the Ione Brewers’ team leaders in batting average, as well as fielding percentage, and made the difficult look routine at third base and shortstop. He remembers the trip to Healdsburg like it was yesterday.

“One of the things I remember very well,” said Mason, “was during the Woodcreek game. (Woodcreek) looked like a pro team in their new uniforms, and every member had their hair dyed blonde. But we were beating them at the time when Miles (Tomczak) hit a ball so far, it had to go 400 feet. Problem was he hit it to center field, where the fence is about 500 feet, so he only got a triple out of it. That was pretty awesome.”

For those in attendance, the Woodcreek/AW game was a game for the ages. In 2013, Amador West was a combination of two Ione teams, while Woodcreek drew from 8 teams from the city of Roseville. And wouldn’t you know it, David had Goliath on the ropes, smashing the ball, making great defensive plays and leading by two runs going into the sixth inning, before they were finally overcome by their opponents’ big bats. The Woodcreek team went on to win State and even a few games in the Western Regionals, only to lose to a strong Arizona team in the end.

Gold also remembers his 14th birthday, which he shared on the trip with teammate Ryan Albiani. “Ryan and I are exactly the same age,” Mason explained. “We were born on the same day, in the same hospital, in delivery rooms that were right next door to each other. True story! We had cake and presents by the pool at the hotel. How cool is that?”

The other returning player is ACLLW’s power-hitting left fielder/catcher Seth Baldwin, who has been teammates with Mason and some of the other kids on the team for many years. Throwing right and batting left, Seth was one of the team leaders in stolen bases and slugging percentage, and had a ridiculous on-base percentage north of .675, as he was often walked or hit by pitches, and used his speed to beat out any grounder that was not handled cleanly.

“My memory of Healdsburg,” Seth recalled, “was a catch I made in the Woodcreek game under stadium lights. It was the first inning, and the first time ever playing outfield under the lights. I was nervous, anyway, but add to that runners on second and third with two outs and one of their big hitters at the plate. He crushed a line drive right at me in left field, right thru the lights. I froze and waited for the ball to re-appear, and I made the catch. I did my best to act like it was no big deal, but I think I was shaking for a few innings after.

“The absolute coolest thing about the trip had to be playing hockey in the hotel parking lot with my team until 10:30 at night. The police came and told us to go to bed, but we didn’t get into trouble. It was so much fun.”

As Coach Tom Gold went over line-up and pitching options for the District 15 tournament that starts tomorrow, Tom had this to say about his undefeated Brewers team, that has now become the Amador West All Stars: “Since Amador West only has one Juniors team to pool from for its All-Stars, this year’s team will not have the same depth as we had in 2013. However, I know our lineup can compete against the best our District has to offer. These boys have been playing together for the entire season, and they know what to expect from one another, which can be a huge intangible that all the other All-Star teams simply won’t have. I really like the fight in this team, and with a few breaks, we can go a long way again this year.”

Tomorrow, at 11 a.m., on the Howard Park Juniors field, maybe we will witness the beginning of another magical run. Good luck, Amador West. We will be rooting for you.

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