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August 21, 2007 > Teams battle for championship, Fremont slugger shines

Teams battle for championship, Fremont slugger shines

By Biff Jones (Submitted by Alice Mathias)

Nor Cal Grizzlies of Pleasanton and Hard 90 Rival of Roseville fought their way to the championship game of the American Youth Hall of Fame National Invitational Tournament played at Cooperstown Dreams Park, Cooperstown, NY. They played in the Week #10 Tournament, August 11-17, 2007 for youths aged 14 and under. The tournament starts with a seven game schedule to determine seeding for a 96 team single elimination portion which leads to the championship. Double-headers are played the first three days and a single game on the fourth day except for the top eight teams who are given a bye. Seeding is based on: won-loss record, fewest runs allowed per regular game and coin flip. Hard 90 went 7-0 in the regular games and was seeded 4th while the Grizzlies went 6-1 and got the 15th seed.

Nor Cal Grizzlies continued their run of championships by defeating Hard 90 Rival in extra innings in an all Northern California final. Mark Mathias of Fremont went three-for-four, blasted two home runs and drove in four runs to lead the Nor Cal Grizzlies to the Week 10 championship. Brett Binning, with three RBI's, Chris Flexen, with two RBI's and Jake Villa each added two hits as the Grizzlies defeated Hard 90 Rival, 11-8. A combined pitching effort from Nor Cal's Villa, Flexen, Matt Cobley and Robert Monchak allowed the eight runs while giving up ten hits over the seven innings played. Jovan Findley and Monchak each added a hit for Nor Cal. The Grizzlies, managed by Dave Huerta, finished the tournament with a 12-1 record. They knocked off 46th seed, Palos Verdes, CA Waves, 14-1 and the 18th seed, Jersey, NJ Bulldogs, 6-5 on Wednesday night to advance to the Sweet 16. On Thursday, they upset the 2nd seed, Las Vegas, NV Baseball Academy Lightning, 10-6. The Grizzlies continued their winning ways by defeating 23rd seed Hardball, FL, 17-2 and 6th seed West Valley, CA Hawks, 21-3, to advance to the championship game.

Hard 90 Rival, who ended up 11-1, was managed by former Major League catcher Rick Sundberg. They defeated the 32nd seed Carroll Cannons, MD, 14-2 on Wednesday night. Continuing in the Sweet 16, Hard 90 routed the Chicago, IL North Shore Sharks, 12-4 and went on to knock the 12th seed, CCC, CA Rockers, 3-2 and the top-seed, American Avengers, TX, 9-4, to advance to the championship game. J.R. Robinson led Hard 90 with three hits including two home runs and six RBI's as Guillermo Salazar pitched five innings and struck out five of the 22 batters he faced. Offensively, Salazar added two hits, while Matt Olson, Tanner Hetzel, Joe Ellis and Jimmy Shaw each contributed with one a piece. This was Coach Sundberg's second appearance in a championship game at Cooperstown Dreams Park. He managed the Star Maker Red Legs of San Mateo, who won Week #10 in 2004, defeating the Nevada Wildcats, 9-2.

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