Right smack in between the two baseball fields at Trinta Park in San Mateo there is a flag pole. And if you happen to be a fan of San Mateo Litttle League, that is exactly where you wanted to be Monday afternoon.
On the South end, San Mateo National was battling Hillsborough.
On the North end, San Mateo American was doing the same against Belmont-Redwood Shores.
And from the flag pole position, you could catch every bit of the action.
But, if the flag pole at Trinta was your spot of choice, there is a good chance you ended up with major vertigo trying to follow the two semifinal games of the District 52 Minors Superbowl tournament. In all, the four teams combined for 54 runs and even more clutch hits. And at the end of almost two and half hours of baseball, the city of San Mateo gets what it wanted before the first pitch of the semifinal games was thrown: an all local final.
By virtue of 16-14 and 16-8 wins, San Mateo American (who actually won in extra innings) and San Mateo National will lock heads for the 2013 Minors championship Tuesday afternoon at Trinta Park with the first pitch scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
As evident by the two scores, Monday afternoon provided baseball fans with plenty of offensive highlights. But the games were won in very distinct fashions.
“It was complete determination,” said National head coach Angelo Formosa. “I told the boys, as your coach, I have faith in you — the assistant coaches have faith in you, your parents have faith in you. If you have faith in yourself and you really want this game, go out and win it.”
National’s win against Hillsborough was tight for the majority of the game. San Mateo actually lead 2-1 before Hillsborough tied the game with a groundout and seized the lead with Kyle Sieben’s triple to centerfield serving as the big hit in what ended up being a 5-2 advantage.
But National roared right back. They cut the lead 5-3 and then loaded the bases for Jackson Wood who delivered a double that cleared the bags and made it 6-5.
“It was our third game in three days, but we never gave us,” Formosa said. “Every single game, we played lights out, hard as we could. We were down in two of those three games, we came right back. I always told them, we will not give up. San Mateo National does not give up.”
Hillsborough came back and tied things up at 6 on a Finn Gilmartin two-out single.
But National exploded for 10 runs in its half of the sixth inning that blew the game wide open. Ryan Ivers’ single scored the go-ahead run with Oliver Crank, Chris Kelly and Edgar Sanchez getting the knocks to add major insurance for San Mateo.
Ryan Tuthill hit a bomb to centerfield for Hillsborough that made it 16-8.
While National’s win was exciting, it did not match American’s win in dramatics.
A true roller coaster ride of a game, American went up 4-0 in the first but then trailed 5-4 before Belmont-Redwood Shores made three outs in its half of the inning. It was true sign of things to come because if it seemed like each team gained a big lead only to see it fade away, it’s because that’s exactly what happened.
With the game tied at 7-7 after 3 1/2 frames, Belmont went up 9-7, only to have American come back and somehow lead 12-10 just 1 1/2 innings later.
“Belmont was stiff competition,” said American head coach Brian Haverty. “Two really strong teams, a lot of hitting power all the way around. Two just very strong teams. Today, it was a little bit of luck, pitching depth and strategy. We played a pretty strategic game.”
The real craziness began to start the bottom of the sixth with Belmont down 13-10. Redwood Shores scored a run with one out to make it 13-11 and after a walk and a pop out, Myles Allison delivered a huge double to left centerfield to tie the score up at 13-13 and force extra innings.
American responded to start the seventh with an Ethan Ienni single. Two batters later, Alexander Haas stroked the hit of the game, doubling deep to right centerfield to bring in Ienni and Peter Martin who had reached base right after. A wild pitch allowed Haas to score a handful of pitches later for the 16th run.
Belmont got the potential tying run to first in its half of the seventh. But a nice play at the plate by American was the final out of the game and sent San Mateo to the championship final.
“He has a great team,” Haverty said of Formosa and the National squad. “It should be fun (Tuesday). Gosh, I don’t what to say other than this is exciting. We’re thrilled to be here.”