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August 5, 2009 > MSJ Juniors open divisional play on a winning note

MSJ Juniors open divisional play on a winning note

By Biff Jones

For the juniors (13-14 year olds) of Little League baseball, Mission San Jose (MSJ) of Fremont opened Division 2 play (Nor Cal) at Willow Glen High School in San Jose on Saturday, July 25.

They defeated Mill Valley of Marin County, 6-5, in eight innings (regulation is seven) and West Shore of Lake County, 9-0, on Sunday, July 26.

Monday would be an off day before MSJ took on Woodcreek of Roseville, also undefeated, in the double-elimination tournament on Tuesday, July 28.

MSJ got off to a 3-0 lead on a run in the first inning and two more in the second. However, the second inning is when things turned "south" for Mission.

After scoring the two runs and having runners on first and third with no one out, MSJ attempted to steal second. When Woodcreek's catcher threw to third hoping to catch the runner off base, the throw went into left field and the fourth run appeared to come into score. Only the run was disallowed as the batter was called out because of interference, and the base runners had to return to their original bases of first and third.

That was all the scoring MSJ could muster for the rest of the game. They left the bases loaded with only one out in the fourth; and left two men on base in both the fifth and seventh innings, totaling 11 LOB for the game.

Meanwhile, Woodcreek would chip away with single runs in the third and fifth innings to trail 3-2 going into the bottom of the seventh.

After Woodcreek's lead off batter reached first on a dropped pop-up in front of the plate, they loaded the bases with no outs on two singles. MSJ then induced two fly outs to left field before the tying run scored on a passed ball and the game would go to extra innings.

MSJ went quietly in the top of the eighth and took their first defeat of the tournament, 4-3, as the winning run scored in the bottom of the eighth on two consecutive doubles.

Scott Havard pitched the first five innings for Mission and was relieved by Brandon Facha. Leading hitter for MSJ was third baseman Reid Marion, with a double and two singles; he also reached base on a Woodcreek error. First baseman James Gaffey had two singles and a walk while centerfielder Jeff Chu contributed two singles.

Next up for MSJ in losers' bracket action was a rematch with Mill Valley. This game turned out to be a pitcher's dual with Kevin Finch taking the hill for Mission. He would allow only four singles and a walk while striking out four in a complete game shutout.

MSJ rapped out eight hits but could only muster two runs in their 2-0 victory. They scored a run in the third on a double by second baseman Chu, followed by an RBI single from right fielder Wyatt Ott.

In the bottom of the sixth, they added an insurance run when Finch singled and was doubled home by Marion.

MSJ now would have to defeat Woodcreek twice to advance to the Western Regional.

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