Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Pacifica American players congratulate pitcher Christian Falk following his one-hit, six-strikeout performance in an 11-0 win over Mission San Jose in the championship game of the Section 3 tournament in Fremont Tuesday.
FREMONT — The Pacifica American Majors All-Stars completed their demolition of the competition in the Little League Section 3 tournament at Marshall Field in Fremont Tuesday.
Pacifica won its first two games of the tournament by a combined score of 25-7. Pacifica capped it with a dominating 11-0 win over Mission San Jose-Fremont 11-0 in the championship game, one that was called after four innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
“It’s been fun,” said Pacifica center fielder Elijah Ricks, who sent the assembled crowd into a tizzy with his second-inning bomb that was easily 300 feet, if not more.
“I’ve been playing with [these guys] since 9-10 year olds.”
With the win, Pacifica American advances to the Division 2 tournament, also known as the Northern California State Tournament. Pacifica will face Section 7 champ Rosedale Little League of Bakersfield at 1 p.m. at Cambrian Park in San Jose Saturday.
Ricks’ shot was one of five home runs hit by Pacifica. While its offense has been on fire all summer long, Pacifica manager Steve Falk was pleased to see all facets of the game on point. Christian Falk got the start on the mound and was nearly unhittable, holding the District 14 champs to just one hit and a total of two base runners.
“He pitches like that every time,” Ricks said.
The Pacifica defense was also flawless, handling every opportunity in the field cleanly.
“Today, we put it all together,” Steve Falk said.
As the visiting team, Pacifica led off the game at the plate and it put the pressure on Mission San Jose immediately. With one out, Ricks reached on an infield hit. Christian Falk followed and singled to left, but as the Mission left fielder went to field the ball, it took a huge hop over his head and rolled to the fence. Ricks motored all the way around to score from first to put Pacifica up 1-0 after half an inning.
“Going into the championship game, you want to get out [to a lead] early,” Steve Falk said.
In the second, Pacifica broke out the big sticks as Ricks, Chris Rodriguez, Nate Azzopardi and Jordan Salgado all went deep. All told, Pacifica scored nine runs in the second inning, sending 11 batters to the plate.
Steve Falk said he watches his team go yard during practice, but tries to take their minds off the long ball when game time comes.
“Before the game, I usually preach doubles to try to keep their minds off the fences,” Steve Falk said.
Ricks’ blast was the type people who saw will talk about for years. The center-field fence is 201 feet away from the plate and he hit the ball into a tree at least 100 feet beyond the fence.
“I didn’t know where it went,” Ricks said.
With a 10-0 lead, Christian Falk was free and easy on the mound. He allowed a walk to the No. 2 batter in the first inning and surrendered his only hit of the game in the second, a Blake Werner single to center.
Any would-be Mission rally was quashed, however, when the next batter hit a routine ground ball to Cruise Thompson at shortstop. He stepped on second to erase the lead runner and threw on to first to complete the double play. Christian Falk proceeded to retire the final seven Mission batters in order, finishing with six strikeouts.
“He’s always been our guy we go to in big games,” said Steve Falk of his son. “He did fantastic. He’s becoming more of a pitcher.”
Thompson rounded out the scoring for Pacifica with a solo, line-drive homer over the fence in right field in the third inning.
Pacifica finished the game with 13 hits, with eight of the nine batters in the starting lineup getting at least one hit. Christian Falk was just as good at the plate as he was on the mound, going 3 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI. The top three batters in the Pacifica lineup – Thompson, Ricks and Christian Falk – went 7 for 9 for the game with five runs scored and six runs driven in. For the three-game tournament, the three were a combined 24 for 31.
Rodriguez drove in a pair of runs with his second-inning homer, with Azzopardi, Salgado, Spencer Karalius and Tyler Shaw also driving in a run apiece.
Even the bench players played a hand in the offense, with Mateo Jimenez going 1 for 2 as he replaced Ricks.
With the Nor Cal tournament looming, Steve Falk said it’s getting tougher and tougher to keep the magnitude from his team.
“They know what’s after this next tournament,” Steve Falk said, alluding to the West Regional tournament in San Bernardino. “They know the exact steps.”
So they do.
“Our goal is to play the team that beat us when we were (playing in the) 9-10 tournament (two years ago),” Ricks said. That would be Woodcreek of the Sacramento area, which denied Pacifica American the Northern California crown two summers ago.
Despite all the success on the field, Pacifica was playing with heavy hearts. On the drive to the game, assistant coach Len Harkness got a call telling him his mother had passed away. Pacifica first baseman Andrew Harkness went on to play the game while his father went to deal with the family tragedy.
“Anges Harkness was one of those grandmas who was always here,” Steve Falk said. “[The win] is bittersweet.”