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June 10, 2009 > Tigers just short in WSLL Majors playoffs

Tigers just short in WSLL Majors playoffs

Submitted By Julie Craft

Warm Springs Little League (WSLL) third-place Major Tigers kicked off the playoffs on Saturday, June 6, facing the second-place Cardinals. In a back-and-forth game with no shortage of offense, the Tigers rallied from a six-run deficit, but came up short in the end, 11-10.

With Tigers fans stomping and cheering, ready for a comeback of the ages, and the Tigers down four runs entering the sixth and final inning, Tigers outfielder Madhavan, known for his super speed, was put in at first base as a pinch runner as Nick Chew stepped up to the plate with two outs, based loaded and, of course - no pressure.

Fans were biting their nails as Chew rose to the occasion and smacked the ball to deep left field, giving him a three-run triple, closing the gap and almost overtaking the Cardinals. Nick Burbridge was up next to bat, but grounded out to second, ending the rally.

Tigers' first baseman Andrew Mack jump-started the game by hitting a double. Mack proceeded to aggressively steal third base and was quickly hit home by Spencer Buchanan, a Tiger Veteran. The Tigers put up a strong defensive wall ending the first inning with a 1-0 lead.

Ivan Onate lined a sharp single and Nick Bugbee, one of the youngest and speediest Tigers, placed a perfectly-dropped bunt for an infield single to lead off the second for the Tigers. Tigers veteran Michael Newman followed by wowing the crowd with his second homerun that cleared the fence this season, giving the Tigers a 4-0 lead. The Tigers continued to pour on the heat with power hitting, including a nice hit by Burbridge, and the Tigers entered the bottom of the second inning leading the cardinals, 5-0.

Newman was at the mound firing strike after strike to Cardinals hitters. After retiring the first two batters on easy grounders handled by shortstop David Galvan, the Cards started to rally back into the game, scoring five, two-out runs, and tying the game at 5 heading into the third.

In the third, Tigers batting began to cool off while the Cardinals started to heat up by scoring four more runs, propelling them into the lead, 9-5. Now facing a four-run deficit, Chew was brought in to shake up the Tigers pitching. With two outs and bases loaded, Newman brought the inning to a spectacular close with an amazing catch in center field.

In the bottom of the fourth, Onate snatched up a bunted ball on a dead sprint and whipped it right into Mack's glove at first base for the first out of the inning. The Cardinals scored two more runs and Alyssa, a Tiger superstar, moved in as catcher and Darrik Bushaw, one of the team's newest pitchers, took the mound to rally the Tigers back into the game, and he was un-hittable. Bushaw and the Tigers got out of the inning, now trailing 11-5.

Behind by six runs at the top of the fifth inning with two outs, three Tigers were walked loading the bases and Newman was up to bat. The Cards tried to get a base runner out but overthrew the ball to third base, allowing Alyssa to steal home and two runners to advance. With momentum high and a runner on third, Zain Ahmed stepped up and slugged a hit deep into centerfield for an RBI.

Known as the comeback kids, the Tigers put on their rally caps as they entered the bottom of the fifth trailing the Cardinals 11-7. Bushaw mowed down the Cardinals in order, leaving it up to the bats to get them back into the game before coming up just short after the last-inning rally.

Tigers were successfully led by their team Manager John Mathias, along with a team of coaches, supported by dedicated parents and enthusiastic fans. WSLL playoffs are double elimination, so both teams will have another opportunity to play this week, with the championship game to be held on Saturday, June 13, at 9 a.m. at the WSLL fields in Fremont.

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