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August 5, 2009 > Western Regional on the line for Mission San Jose

Western Regional on the line for Mission San Jose

By Biff Jones

Mission San Jose (MSJ) of Fremont Junior (13-14 year olds) Little Leaguers took on Woodcreek of Roseville on Thursday, July 30, at Willow Glen High School in San Jose. Mission would have to defeat Woodcreek twice, Thursday and Friday, to advance to the Junior Western Regional Tournament this week in Aliso Viejo, southeast of Los Angeles.

Woodcreek entered play undefeated while MSJ had one loss (4-3 to Woodcreek) in the double-elimination Division 2 (Nor Cal) Tournament.

Game one of a possible two belonged to Mission as they scored single runs in the second and third innings, then tacked on four more in the bottom of the fourth.

Meanwhile, MSJ pitcher Brandon Facha was shutting out Woodcreek until he had to be removed from the mound because of his pitch count. (Junior Little Leaguers are not allowed to throw more than 95 pitches in one game, although a player can finish pitching to a batter after he reaches the maximum.)

Centerfielder Jeff Chu came on to pitch the seventh for Mission. After giving up a leadoff walk, he struck out the next two batters. Then the top of Woodcreek's batting order followed with three consecutive singles to score their only run as MSJ forced a winner-take-all game on Friday, July 31, with a 6-1 victory.

Leading the hit parade for Mission were Chu and first baseman James Gaffey, each with two singles; third baseman Reid Marion had a double. Defensively, right fielder Adam Curtis threw out a runner at first base on what appeared to be a single to right.

Winner-take-all game on Friday, July 31, turned out to be a nail biter as both teams came out swinging and were thin on pitching. Woodcreek and MSJ both went to the bullpen three times during the game.

Woodcreek scored single runs in the first three innings while Mission would score two each in their half of the first and second for a 4-3 lead after three innings.

In the bottom of the fourth MSJ added three more runs to take a 7-3 lead going into the top of the fifth. However, Woodcreek was not done as they answered with a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth for 7-6 Mission lead entering the top of the seventh.

MSJ starting pitcher Scott Havard was replaced on the mound by Kenny Jacoby to start the sixth as Havard's pitch count had reached 91. After the first three Woodcreek batters reached safely on a MSJ error, a single and a hit batsman, Havard was brought back to face Woodcreek's number two hitter in the line-up. A pitcher may return to the mound once, as long as he stays in the game (Havard went to center field) and still had not reached the ninety-five pitch count.

After giving up a single and throwing only three pitches, Havard could still face one more batter, who he struck out for the first out of the inning.

On came Brandon Fuhs, who had not pitched since early June. Fuhs was replaced behind the plate by third baseman, Marion.

First batter to face Fuhs struck out. Then after walking in a run, Fuhs got the final out on a fly ball to right fielder Devon Jones.

Top of the seventh saw Fuhs retire the first batter of the inning on a great play by Jones as he raced to the fence to catch a fly ball in foul territory. After giving up a one out single, Fuhs got the final two outs on a pop out and a groundout to send MSJ Juniors to So Cal for the Little League Western Regional.

First game was played on Tuesday, August 4, against Nampa Valley LL from Nampa, Idaho, in Pool 1. Score was unavailable at press time. For all the West Regional scores, go to the TCV Sports Web site at www.tricityvoice.com/sports . Winner of the West Regional goes to the Junior Little League World Series in Taylor, Michigan, August 16-22.

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