PALO ALTO — Before falling to San Mateo American in Sunday’s second round, San Carlos opened with a bang in the District 52 Little League All-Star Majors Tournament.
Exploding for a 21-0 mercy-rule victory Saturday over Redwood City at Middlefield Ballpark, San Carlos needed just three innings to clobber seven home runs, including two apiece from Tyler Webster, Clay Hinsdale and Davis Minton.
Ian Josephson added a third-inning homer, which comes as no surprise. Josephson is San Carlos’ sweet-swinging No. 3 hitter. Five of the homers came from the No. 1 through 4 spots in the order. When a team gets two homers from the No. 9 spot, though, as San Carlos did from Webster, that’s the mark of serious depth.
“I think our biggest strength is our depth,” San Carlos manager Mike Zirelli said. “Our lineup, 1 through 9, is deadly when those guys are on.”
Webster not only homered twice, he hit both his bombs in the same inning.
San Carlos sent 17 batters to the plate amid a 13-run rally in the second inning, with Webster proving the spark by blasting a 3-ball, 2-strike pitch down the left field line for a solo blast. Later in the inning, Webster stepped to plate with the bases full and unloaded on a high-and-away fastball for a grand slam to left-center field.
With most of San Carlos’ District All-Star roster staying intact for three years since the 9-10s tournament in 2017, Webster is the only outlier. While he did play at the Little League Triple-A level two years ago, this is his first summer appearing on a District 52 roster.
“Late bloomer,” Zirelli said, “… and he’s a force.”
Being a force means he fits right in with the rest of the San Carlos lineup. The team totaled 18 hits Saturday, with Minton, Josephson and Hinsdale each going 4 for 4.
Minton had a chance to hit for the cycle in his final at-bat. He legged out an infield single to lead off the game in the first. He added a double and a solo homer in the second. Needing a triple for a cycle, he got a little carried away in his final at-bat in the third, driving a two-run home run well over the left-center wall.
Also serving as San Carlos’ starting pitcher, Minton worked through one inning before exiting after his team took a 17-0 lead in the top of the second. He threw just 17 pitches, and his early exit was tactical in that he stayed under the limit to keep him eligible to pitch as early as Sunday.
“I was a little bit nervous,” Minton said of taking the mound for the District 52 opener. “But I was pretty confident we could get a win today.”
Minton’s nerves were understandable. Through three years on the District 52 roster, this was his first starting pitching assignment in a tournament opener. It was his first pitching appearance since the San Carlos Little League regular-season playoffs. He took the ball for the Diamondbacks in the playoff semifinals, though he took the loss to the eventual champion Astros.
Hinsdale served as the cleanup hitter for that Astros team, and his announcement in Saturday’s postgame press conference that the Astros in fact won the regular season championship left him playfully pounding his chest, and Minton rolling his eyes. It’s the friendliest of rivalries, though. Heck, it’s almost brotherly, as the two have grown up together, and actually share the same birthday.
As for Minton’s nerves, they dissipated after San Carlos got its bats going.
“I felt after the first inning, I kind of left the nervousness,” Minton said.
Minton got out of the first inning unscathed with some help from his catcher Logan Mathias. After San Carlos jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first, Redwood City bounced back when Octavio Lopez led off the bottom of the frame with a double down the right field line, breathing some life into the dugout.
“Your teammates are going to cheer anytime your team has any kind of success,” Redwood City manager Michael Hohl said.
Lopez advanced to third on an infield groundout. Then cleanup hitter Blair Cook drew a two-out walk. When Cook attempted to steal second, though — allowing Lopez to try and swipe home on the front end with the wheel steal — Mathias opted to throw through to second and cut down Cook before Lopez could reach the plate, ending the inning with the shutout intact.
Wesley Contreras added a third-inning double for Redwood City, but the San Carlos reliever Fulton finished off next batter to end the game.
Rocco Lockutoff added two hits for San Carlos. Hinsdale led the way with six RBIs, Webster and Josephson totaled five apiece and Minton picked up three.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to tip your cap,” Hohl said, “to boys that can put the ball in play.”