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July 23, 2008 > Niles - Centerville Seniors advance to NorCal Divisional Play

Niles - Centerville Seniors advance to NorCal Divisional Play

By Biff Jones
Photos By Don Jedlovec

On Saturday, July 12, Senior All-Stars (ages 15-16) from Niles-Centerville Little League representing District 14 (teams from Fremont and Newark) pulled out an 8-7 victory over District 45 (teams from Union City, Hayward and north to San Leandro) representative, Union City American, in second round action of NorCal Sectional play. Union City won a first round game, 7-3, against D52 winner, Redwood City National, on Friday, July 11, to advance to the second round vs. NCLL, who had received a bye in the first round. The win on Saturday by NCLL put them in a winners' bracket game on Sunday, July 13, against D57 champs, Granada of Livermore. By losing, UCALL had to play a losers' bracket game, on Monday, July 14, in rematch against D52 survivor, Redwood City National, in this double elimination tournament. Results of that Monday game were not available at press time. D14 is hosting this Senior Section 3 Tournament with all games played a Gomes Elementary School, home of Fremont's Mission San Jose Little League.

Granada opened the scoring against Niles when shortstop, Scott Coughlin, hit a solo home run in the top of the first inning to give them a 1-0 lead. That would be the only scoring until the fifth inning as both starting pitchers settled into a groove.

For NCLL, the bottom of the third started out promising as center fielder Cody Lebon, and right fielder, Casey Jennings, had back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, but the threat was quickly erased by a double play and Niles unable to get the runner home from third with two outs.

The top of the fifth saw NCLL starting pitcher, left hander Donald Anderson, give up a lead off walk followed by Granada's second home run of the game as second baseman, Josh Wilson, hit a two run shot over the left field fence to increase the lead to 3-0.

In the bottom of the fifth, Niles broke into the scoring column when, with one out, left fielder, Jay Haak, drew a walk and shortstop, Athen Sinodinos, singled him to third. Sinodinos and Haak then pulled off a double steal to give NCLL it first run of the game and cut the deficit to 3-1. The double steal was followed by singles from second baseman, Robert Higares, and first baseman, Spencer Romero. Catcher, Kainoa Cabus was then hit by a pitch followed by a single from third baseman, Alex Celaya. After an out, Lebon added yet another single to close out the scoring in Niles' half of the fifth. Higares and Celaya's singles each plated a run while Lebon's hit drove in two and NCLL had the lead 5-3. Defensive and pinch running specialist, Philip Rugani, scored one of the runs in the five-run fifth.

Niles threatened to put the game away in the sixth when Sinodinos led-off with a double followed by walks to Higares and Romero with nobody out. However, the Granada relief core buckled down and did not allow a run to score to give them a shot at coming back in the top of the seventh.

After giving up a one-out single in the top of the seventh, Anderson was relieved by Haak, who promptly gave up another single to put runners on first and second. Haak then got an infield pop-out before a third single in the inning loaded the bases with two outs and the tying run on second base. That is where the runners would remain as Haak got a called third strike to end the threat and give NCLL a 5-3 victory and a place in the championship game. In the championship game on Wednesday, July 16, at MSJLL Senior field, NCLL defeated Redwood City American, 2-1, to advance to the NorCal Divisional Tournament at American River College (ARC) in Sacramento.

NCLL first Divisional game was played last Saturday, July 19 and the Fremont team was defeated, 12-7, by Almaden Little League of San Jose. The loss would move Niles to the losers' bracket in another double elimination tournament where they would have to win five games in five nights at ARC to advance to the Senior Western Regional in Upland, CA, July 29-August 5. The West Regional winner then advances to the Senior World Series to be held in Bangor, ME, August 10-16.

NCLL next played Morada Little League of Stockton last Monday, July 21 and if they won, they played again on Tuesday, July 22. Scores of games on July 21-22 were unavailable at press time. If the teenagers from NCLL are still supporting only the one loss to Almaden, then they play the next three nights, July 23-25, 7 p.m. at ARC until they either suffer their second defeat or advance to the Upland Regional.

Thanks to District 14's Reggie Torres and Vic Langford, to MSJLL's Linda Curtis and to NCLL parent, Barney Cabus, for their assistance with this article.

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