Tri-City 11-year-olds edge Roseville West in Section 4

Huggins pitches three-hitter, strikes out five
By: Brett Ransford/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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RANCHO MURIETA - Tri-City Little League’s 11-year-old all-stars sent Roseville West to the losers’ bracket of the Section 4 Tournament with a 3-2 win Monday evening at Stonehouse Park.

Tri-City's AJ Huggins pitched a three-hitter, walked four and struck out five. Roseville West loaded the bases with two out in the fifth but was unable to score.

Huggins' pitching was the linchpin to Tri-City holding on to win. He threw 84 pitches, one pitch shy of Little League's maximum pitch count.

“I’ve pitched in games like that before, so I was just relaxed and kept going,” Huggins said.

Huggins is the first Tri-City 11-year-old all-star to throw a complete game in the Section 4 Tournament, let alone the entire season.

“(Roseville West) definitely gave maximum effort. I’m the other catcher on the team, so now I’ll just catch and hit the ball to help my team,” Huggins said.

Nick Hopping scored Tri-City’s first run on a passed ball with the bases loaded in the top of the first.

Lane Field drove in Bryson Correia in the second, and Kyle Crouse brought in Nick Vehlin from second base with an RBI double, which he ripped to center field in the fourth.

Huggins allowed two baserunners through three innings, both on walks. Tyler Bellig ended the no-hitter with a leadoff single in the fourth. Bellig was driven in by Sean Granucci, and an error in right field allowed Ben Welker to score.

Huggins retired the side in order in the first, second and sixth innings. He struck out Jeremy Giuntoli looking to end the game.

His father, Ron Huggins, called the pitches as his son muscled his team to another victory.

“I’m very proud as a dad. You can’t get that feeling except from being a part of it,” Ron Huggins said. “I don’t show a lot of emotion out there. I’m pretty even-keeled. He does his best, and we do our best.”

Tri-City manager Jason Field gave all the credit to the work of his team and coaches.

“We all jumped on AJ Huggins’ back, and he took us all the way," Field said. "I can’t say the name of Jake Remington enough, either.”

Remington, the right fielder, robbed Roseville West of hits that could have made the difference.

Giuntoli pitched five innings and was pulled after walking Jacob Millard to lead off the sixth. He allowed one earned run, five hits and four walks and struck out five.

Ron Huggins and Roseville West manager Steffen Gilbert agreed they expect their teams to meet again Wednesday in the championship game. Roseville West plays at 6 p.m. Tuesday against the winner between West Sacramento and Land Park Pacific. Tri-City has Tuesday off.

“We had four or five errors that hurt us in the beginning of the game, and (Tri-City) had one error in the entire game,” Gilbert said. “Tri-City is a great baseball team and very well coached. The difference in the game was our errors.”