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Comeback complete for Woodcreek 11s

Back-to-back wins over Tri-City seal section title
By: Galen Kusic, Special to The Press Tribune
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An impressive comeback is complete as the Woodcreek Little League 10/11-year-old all-stars completed an amazing Section 4 championship run Thursday night with an impressive victory over Tri-City by a 6-3 score. Woodcreek, after losing the first tournament meeting to Tri-City 8-2, beat the host team twice in a row at the end to win the title. "I just kept telling the boys, don't give up," said Woodcreek manager Mike Watari. "We've played six games in six days - we made a few mistakes here and there, but it didn't cost us as much. It was a tremendous team effort." Tyler Malone had an outstanding pitching performance Thursday, going 4 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out eight. "I just tried to work on throwing strikes, and to make them hit ground balls," said Malone of his performance. It was a far cry from the five runs he allowed in the first inning of the first meeting between the teams. Woodcreek got on the board in the first when Clayton Hall singled home Tyler Bounds. A Jake Dirkes sacrifice fly to deep center scored Malone to put Woodcreek up 2-0 after one. Tri-City answered back in the second when Sean Linck reached on an error and Aidan Malm cleaned up with an RBI double. Woodcreek would strike again in the third when Dirkes doubled off the wall in right, followed by a sharp RBI single from Andrew Grinder. Tri-City responded again in the fourth, thanks to a towering Linck solo shot to dead center. Malone kept his cool, striking out the two following batters, and eventually the side, but after giving up a single to Garrett Kauppila and an RBI double to CJ Whelan in the fifth, his night was done. Zac Erixon came in to pitch and gave up an initial single before getting a line out to left - Bounds made a great fully-extended diving catch for the second out. With the ensuing batter in the box, Ricky Brumley was caught in a run-down between third and home for the final out of the inning. Woodcreek scored three more in the fifth when Justin Pejovich singled home Dirkes. After a sacrifice bunt from Grinder to move the runner over, Justin Asuncion hit an infield single to score Pejovich. Then, after a Justin Watari single - Asuncion stole home on a double steal, making it a 6-3 Woodcreek advantage. Erixon walked the Tri-City leadoff hitter in the sixth, got a ground ball fielder's choice at short to get the lead runner. On the next batter, he got the 6-4-3 double play ball to end the game and seal the championship. "I just kept my cool," said Erixon of his pressure save. "We just have to stay with it." Woodcreek will be back at Spring View Park one more time as Tri-City hosts the Northern California Division 2 10/11 tourney beginning Saturday. The Section 4 champs have a bye, and will open at 7:30 p.m. Sunday night against the winner of a Saturday game between Napa National and Madera American. "We got our groove together after we won the first game," said Grinder. "We finally get a day off tomorrow, so it'll be nice." FYI: Tri-City Little League is hosting the Northern California Divisional tournament at Rocklin’s Spring View Park. The games begin Saturday night, and continues through next week. Tonight – Napa National vs. Madera American, 5 p.m.; Danville vs. Saratoga, 7:30 p.m. Sunday – El Rancho vs. Danville/Saratoga winner, 5 p.m.; Woodcreek vs. Napa/Madera winner, 7:30 p.m.