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Rocklin Seniors hold off Woodcreek in section tourney

Two teams could meet again in final Tuesday
By: Robbie Enos, Press Tribune Correspondent
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An early slugfest, a set of outstanding individual performances, and a late-inning hold highlighted an epic battle in the Senior division of Little League all-star play Sunday night at American River College. District 11 champion Rocklin held on to defeat District 54’s Woodcreek 7-6 in a winner’s bracket game at the Section 4 tournament Rocklin’s Hayden Hall got the call to close the game on the mound as his team clung to a one-run lead with just three outs remaining. Alex Montes reached base on an error and then moved to second on a Derek Guerra sacrifice bunt. Hall snagged the next bunt attempt out of the air to keep Montes at second with two outs. After Michael Rios singled to right, Rocklin catcher Patrick O’Keefe made a game-saving play. The throw from the outfield missed the cut-off man, but O’Keefe hustled over to make a stop near the third base dugout. Rios advanced to second, but Montes was unable to score from third. Rocklin manager Eric Hall elected to intentionally walk Woodcreek leadoff man Perry Beaber, who had tripled earlier in the game. With the bases loaded and two down, Hayden Hall struck out Austin Hagarty to seal the deal for Rocklin. Even though the team had a great win, Eric Hall was still keeping in mind the road ahead for Rocklin. “We still have to eliminate the mistakes we made going into the next round,” Hall said. “There were a few ground balls we miscued, and we have to eliminate those types of mistakes.” All around Rocklin had great offensive performances. Tanner McVey was the head man, smacking a single, double, and triple with two runs scored and a stolen base. Taylour Reidt came into the game off the bench, but that didn’t stop him from smacking a double and driving in a run. “Tanner McVey had a great game, he had several key hits,” Eric Hall said. “Taylour Reidt came in and had a crucial hit. We had a lot of key hits when we needed them.” Plenty of Woodcreek players had solid performances as well. Montes stroked two singles and a double, good for two RBIs and a run scored. George Corp scored two runs on a single, double and a walk. “There were a couple of things that I felt we could have executed better,” Woodcreek manager Rich Hagarty said. “But all in all we had plenty of opportunities. It was a good game between two well-matched teams that could have gone either way.” Both teams got it going early with the bats, starting with Rocklin in the first inning. J.R. Robinson walked and then swiped second base to get into scoring position. McVey slammed a two-out, 2-2 double into right-center to score Robinson. Sean Kinsella hammered a high fastball into center field to bring McVey in. Woodcreek answered right back, starting with a Beaber triple to lead off the inning. Three hits later three runs were up on the board and Hall decided to take starting pitcher Michael Blattel out in favor of Robinson. Woodcreek would score no more runs that inning, and manage only three runs against Robinson the rest of the game. He finished the game with five strikeouts. “He’s a good pitcher,” Hagarty said of Robinson. “He has a pretty fast fastball and he kept us off balance and kind of shut us down for a while. That was a very good move on their part.” Rocklin came back in the second. Hayden Hall boarded on a blooper in right, setting up runners on first and second after O’Keefe took one for the team and then Hosang dropped down a bunt single which forced a wild throw at first, allowing Hall to score. Robinson blooped a single into center field, scoring O’Keefe. Blattel finished the rally off with a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Hosang. “Our offensive strategy was to get a lot of base runners and make the opponent throw a lot of pitches,” Eric Hall said. “We wanted to be selective at the plate, and when we get our pitch, put the bat on the ball.” Both defenses tightened and allowed no runs to score in the third and fourth innings. At one point, eight consecutive batters were retired. But the quiet bats came to life in the fifth, when McVey blasted a 1-1 pitch into right-center for a triple. McVey scored on a Sean Kinsella single into center. Kinsella stole second before Reidt’s big double over the left fielder’s head, giving Rocklin some cushion to work with. Corp and Montes teamed up to finally get to Robinson in the fifth. Corp smoked a double of the Left fielder before Montes smacked the first pitch he saw for an RBI double, a sweet inside-out stroke into the left-center gap. Robinson gave up an unearned run in the sixth after Richie made an error at second. The run came around to shrink the lead to one before Rocklin’s clutch inning. Woodcreek is still alive in the double-elimination tournament and faces a must-win elimination game at 7 p.m. Monday against District 7 champion Cosumnes River Rocklin stays in the winner’s bracket with the win and qualifies for the championship round. It will play the survivor of the game between Woodcreek and Cosumnes River at 7 p.m. Tuesday. One more win gives Rocklin the section title, while they will need to be beaten twice to lose the crown.