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July 25, 2006 > Tri-Cities Area Minors Sectional Tournament

Tri-Cities Area Minors Sectional Tournament

by Biff Jones

After an opening round 11-10 win by District 52's Palo Alto National (10-11 year olds) last Thursday, July 20th over District 57's Danville, Mission San Jose Little League Minors from Fremont Area District 14, would get the next crack at PAN in their opening game of the Section 3 Tournament on Friday, the 21st.  This tournament was hosted by Fremont American Little League (FALL) at Marshall Park.

Palo Alto opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the first.  Meanwhile, MSJLL was only able to muster one base runner over the first two innings on a hit batsman.  In the third, after two were out, MSJLL put runners on the corners with center fielder Jeffrey Chu and right fielder Kevin Finch each hitting singles.  Up came shortstop Scott Havard who hit a line drive up the middle of the diamond that had RBI written all over it.  PAN's shortstop had other ideas as he made a headlong, diving stop of the ball for the final out of the inning before it could hit the ground or make it through the infield.

In the top of the fourth, Mission loaded the bases with only one out as third baseman Reid Marion singled; starting pitcher Brandon Facha coaxed a walk and pinch hitter Param Bhatter reached on an error.  That is where the rally would die as the next two pinch hitters, Matt Eike and Charles Guan, each hit balls back to the pitcher which were thrown home for force outs to end the threat.  Eike's ball careened off the pitcher before PAN's shortstop picked it up and threw home for the force.  That would be the end of MSJLL's threats as they went quietly in their half of the fifth after Chu's lead off walk.

Palo Alto's bats, in the meantime, would explode with 6 runs in the bottom of  fourth including a grand slam home run, then end the game in the bottom of the fifth with 3 runs that kicked the mercy rule into effect and make the final score 10-0.  Led by manager Mike Serrano and coaches, Dave Foster and Joe Facha, other Mission starters included catcher Sean Tannenbaum, first baseman, James Gaffey, left fielder Kenny Jacoby and second baseman Adam Curtis.  The loss would put MSJLL into the loser's bracket of the double elimination tournament.

Also in the opening round of the Minors Sectional Tournament and playing on Thursday was Union City National from District 45 in the Union City/Hayward Area.  UCN opened against Northgate of District 67 and fell 3-2.  This loss knocked UCN into the tournament's loser's bracket where they would play Danville in an elimination game.  The game was played at the same time as the MSJLL-PAN game on an adjacent field.  This time UCN game out on top as they would defeat Danville 5-1.  Now it would be MSJLL vs. UCN for the right to continue playing and the loser going home.

In the winner's bracket it would be Palo Alto and Northgate.  The games were scheduled for Saturday, the 22nd, the loser's bracket game at 10:00 a.m. and the winner's bracket game at 1:00 p.m.  Because of the forecast for oppressive heat on Saturday, the winner's bracket game was moved to a 10:00 a.m. first pitch.

In the winner's bracket game it was Palo Alto coming out on top 8-6 sending Northgate into the loser's bracket, while Mission defeated Union City 8-2.  This sent UCN packing and MSJLL to face Northgate on Sunday for the right to advance to the championship game against Palo Alto on Monday, the 24th.

Northgate defeated Mission San Jose 5-4 to move into the championship game Monday, July 24 at 5:30 p.m. against Palo Alto National at Marshall Park in Fremont.  If Northgate wins, the "What If" game will be played on Tuesday.  If PAN wins, they go to NorCal State next weekend.  If Northgate wins twice then they go to NorCal.  MSJLL's loss eliminates them from further competition.

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