If nothing else, the Redwood City Intermediate All-Stars should have a home-field advantage when it hosts the Section 3, four-team tournament beginning this weekend at McGarvey Field at Red Morton Park in Redwood City.
The Section 3 tournament is the second step on the road to the Intermediate World Series, which is hosted by Livermore in Eastern Alameda County.
Little League’s Intermediate Division is also referred to as 50/70 — indicating the distance from the mound to the plate (50 feet) and the length of the baselines (70 feet). It is meant to be an intermediate step for player ages 11 to 13 between the Major Division dimensions of 46/60 and a full-size field, where dimensions are 60 feet, 6 inches and 90 feet.
Other than the smaller dimensions, the game is more closely played to the style of regular baseball, as players can now take leads off first base and can attempt to steal bases at any time.
The Section 3 tournament, which also features teams from District 14 (Fremont-Newark), District 45 (San Lorenzo-Hayward) and District 57 (Danville-San Ramon). District 14 and 45 will open the tournament at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by Redwood City-District 57 at 1 p.m. The winner’s bracket final and an elimination game will take place at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sunday, respectively. Monday features the loser’s bracket final at 5:30 p.m., with the championship round begins Tuesday, with an if-necessary game slated for Wednesday. Both those are games are scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“Historically, [District 57 has] been very strong,” said Brent Goetz, Redwood City manager. “It’s going to be interesting. … We have a bunch of good players. It’s going to be interesting to see what the other teams are like.”
Redwood City qualified for the Section 3 tournament by winning the District 52 championship. It was only a two-team tournament — Redwood City and Palo Alto — and it was a best-of-three series, with Redwood City winning the first two games handily to advance.
Goetz said his squad is solid up and down the lineup, making it one of the team’s strengths. They’ll lean heavily on starting pitchers Aaron Harkov and Aidan Armando and then will need a little luck to get to the title game.
“Really, the team is fairly well balanced. There is no one player who you point to and say, ‘That’s our best player,’” Goetz said. “We’re deep defensively. I think we’ll throw and catch the ball well.
“What we’ll struggle with is overall pitching depth.”
Right now, the Intermediate Division is the most underdeveloped programs in the District 52 stable. Redwood City Little League was the only one in District 52 to field an Intermediate league — with three teams comprised of players from Redwood City and one team from Palo Alto — to make a four-team league. The regular season consists of an 18-game regular season, followed by a four-team, league playoff.
“I love it (the Intermediate Division),” said Goetz, who is also a member of the Redwood City Little League board of directors and has been involved with the league for more than a decade.
“The people who get a chance to play 50/70 love it, too. It’s all about exposing it to more people.”