FREMONT — All three District 52 Little League baseball champions — all three from San Mateo — have advanced to their respective Section 3 championship rounds.
After the San Mateo National Majors squad advanced through the winners’ bracket to Tuesday’s championship round with wins Saturday and Sunday, each the San Mateo American 9-10s and 10-11s teams advanced through the elimination brackets to the title rounds with wins Monday.
The American 10-11s enjoyed a mercy-rule romp at Marshall Park in Fremont, walking off in the bottom of the fourth inning with an 11-1 victory to eliminate Warm Springs. The American 9-10s advanced with a 5-2 win to eliminate Union City at Osage Park in Danville.
“We have all our pitchers for the next two days,” American 10-11s manager Jason Gordon said. “So, if we lose, it’s not going to be because we ran out of pitchers.”
The American 10-11s now rematch with District 57 champion Granada. The two met in the Section 3 opener Saturday with Granada winning 8-5, but American had its chances. With the game tied 5-5 in the bottom of the fifth inning, American’s Hugo Guzman Jr. came up with the bases loaded and drilled a long fly ball to center that came within a few feet of clearing the wall, but instead found the center fielder’s glove on an amazing running catch, according to Gordon.
Monday against Warm Springs, everything was falling for the American offense, especially in the third inning when American sent 12 batters to the plate for an eight-run rally to break it open.
Donovan Friedland enjoyed a big-time performance, going 3 for 3 with two doubles, two RBIs and three runs scored, including the game-winner in the bottom of the fourth.
“I was seeing it pretty good,” Friedland said. “I was just trying to rope it and hit line drives.”
Friedland was the only left-handed hitter on his San Mateo American regular-season team, the Pirates. That certainly is not the case on the All-Star squad. American had five left-handed hitters in its starting lineup Monday. The one bench player the team was carrying on its 10-man roster also hits left-handed. Friedland was the only lefty with a multi-hit game, though.
“He’s been hitting the ball all tournament long,” Gordon said.
Right-handed hitters Xavier Ruiz, Ilanzo Montorio and Nabhan Singh added two hits apiece.
Montorio — usually American’s starting catcher — took the starting pitching assignment and soldiered through all four innings for the complete-game victory. The right-hander allowed seven hits but just one run, with Warm Springs stranding seven base runners throughout, including the first inning when they left the bases loaded.
“He was throwing good,” said Oscar Osuna, Monday’s starting catcher. “What I asked for … outside, inside, he had good location.”
Montorio also sent everyone home with the game-winning double in the fourth to drive home Friedland.
“He did exactly what we asked him to do,” Gordon said. “He settled in. And it was nice he got the walk-off hit too.”
American got on the board in the second inning. After back-to-back singles by Friedland and Montorio, Singh delivered a two-run double.
Warm Springs answered back in the top of the third with three straight hits — singles by Darren Hwang and Santiago Parks, followed by an RBI double from George Dayeh — to cut American’s lead in half 2-1.
Then American erupted, with some help from a Warm Springs defense that committed six errors in the inning. Ruiz started the big rally with a bunt single and advanced to second on a throwing error. Cleanup hitter Sean Tam reached on a throwing error to put runners at the corners. Friedland then delivered a two-run double to left.
Montorio and Osuna reached on back-to-back errors, Singh doubled, and pinch-hitter Johan Morillo launched a two-run double to the left-field alley. Guzman and Ruiz followed with back-to-back RBI singles to finish off the scoring in the third.
By advancing through the elimination bracket of the four-team tournament, American must defeat Granada twice in order to advance. The championship round opens Tuesday at Marshall Park at 5:30 p.m. If necessary, the second championship game would be played Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
“We’re pretty excited and motivated to win the next two games,” Friedland said.
American 9-10s ride five-run third to win
The San Mateo American 9-10s team sent 10 batters to the plate in the third inning to rally for all its runs in a 5-2 victory over Union City in Danville.
No. 9 hitter Landon King opened the frame with a single to center, turning over the lineup and setting the American carousel in motion. Cooper Hipps followed with a one-out single. Then with two outs, Jesus Olivas got American on the board with an RBI double.
After a Bennett Simon walk, Jack Hickey produced a two-run single to left. Simon and Hickey then each scored on passed balls, giving American a 5-0 lead.
American relief pitcher Julio Calderon had set down five straight batters, including the first two outs of the third inning. But a hit batsman, a single and a walk loaded the bases for Union City. Then when two runs scored on a two-out single, Union City brought the potential tying run to the plate, but Calderon got out of the jam, inducing a groundout to shortstop RJ Church.
Hipps then took over for three shutout innings of relief to earn the save.
With the win, American will now face the same Danville team that knocked them into the elimination bracket Sunday. American must win twice to advance, with Danville needing win just Tuesday’s championship-round opener. First pitch at Osage Park is schedule for 5:30 p.m. If necessary, the second championship game will be played Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.