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August 3, 2010 > UCA edges Oakland moves on to West Regional

UCA edges Oakland moves on to West Regional

By Biff Jones
Photos By William Mancebo

Union City American Senior Little League all stars played Oakland North-South Little League's Senior all stars in the championship round of the Division 2 (Nor Cal) tournament at Los Altos High last week. UCA was able to outlast Oakland, beating them Thursday, July 29, as well as in the Friday, July 30, winner-take-all game to advance to the Western Regional.

Both teams would have their number one starters on the mound: Brandon Yau for UCA and Matt Cornell for Oakland. In Yau's last start, he lasted four innings of a UCA 9-8, 12-inning victory over Rocklin. Cornell's last outing saw him throw 65 pitches in a seven-inning complete game victory, 2-1, over Sunrise Little League of Stockton.

UCA would take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when, with one out, Ryan Loeffler singled. After another out, Dimitri Castro singled Loeffler to third. Loeffler was able to score on a Cornell wild pitch.

It would remain 1-0 until the top of the sixth when Oakland tied it on a Cornell double and a single by Alex Rollins.

Both starting pitchers lasted through seven innings before being relieved because the maximum pitch count (95) allowed by Little League Baseball for this age group (14-16) became a factor. (Yau threw 92 pitches and Cornell 96 - a pitcher can finish the batter to whom he is pitching when the 95 pitch limit is reached.) Cornell gave up five hits, two walks and he hit a batter while striking out six. For Yau, he yielded four hits, two walks, hit two batters and struck out eight.

Joe Armstrong would pitch the eighth and ninth of the extra-inning game before handing the ball over to Aaron Acosta in the 10th. Armstrong did not allow a run in his two innings of work but was pulled before his pitch count hit 30 so he could pitch the next day if needed.

Both teams went scoreless during the three extra innings and the game was called at 8:15 as darkness was rapidly approaching and resumed on Friday.

Friday's resumption started about seven minutes early, 5:23 p.m. but the time was lost because of a 25 minute rules interpretation delay. When Oakland pulled its pitcher for a pinch hitter in the top of the 11th, they said the rules allowed him to return to the mound in the bottom of the inning.

Local officials did not know if this was permissible so they phoned West Regional headquarters in San Bernardino. Regional officials could not decide what to do, so they called National headquarters in South Williamsport, Penn. After a lengthy delay, it was decided the player could return to play defense, but not as a pitcher.

In the 11th Zack Vallejo singled; Indo Dahan got hit by a pitch; and Jan Mark Benitez singled to load the bases with no outs. Ralph Delgadillo then worked the count to 3-2 and on the payoff pitch, was hit by the ball to force in the winning run and set up the "What-If" game with a 2-1, 11-inning victory.

Both teams took a breather and went right back on the diamond to decide the champion. Manager Jaime Delgadillo, Ralph Delgadillo's uncle, shook up the batting order and it paid off right away as Loeffler and Vallejo both walked to start the game. Oakland immediately brought in a new pitcher and Armstrong's fielder's choice followed by a groundout by Anthony Armijo, who also was the starting pitcher in the second game, scored Loeffler to give UCA a 1-0 lead.

Oakland went up 2-1 in the second off Armijo and Acosta. UCA answered in the top of the third tying the score on a walk to Delgadillo, a single by Loeffler and a sacrifice bunt from Vallejo.

UCA regained the lead in the fourth when Castro doubled, was pinch run for by Sefath Yassini who took third on a wild pitch and scored on Benitez's single. As darkness was falling, on came Armstrong to pitch the fifth with his 80-plus mile per hour fastball. He struck out the first batter, gave up a single and a walk then struck out the last two hitters of the inning.

Officials wanted to call the game after five innings with UCA declared the winner, 3-2. However, they were persuaded to continue. UCA then went scoreless in the top of the sixth and Armstrong again struck out the side while giving up a walk in the bottom of the sixth.

When the game was allowed to continue into the seventh, UCA loaded the bases with no outs. Armijo then cleared the bases with a double and Oakland said that was enough as it was too dark to continue and UCA was declared the winner, 3-2, (despite it actually being 6-2, the final was determined by the score at the end of the last full inning completed) and were Nor Cal champs.

UCA will next suit up on Wednesday, Aug. 4, at the Western Regional in Ontario, Calif. Should UCA prevail in the Western Regional, they would represent the West in the Senior League Baseball World Series, which begins Aug. 15.

According to UCA assistant coach Jason Yau, "We will probably go with Brandon Yau in game one then use Aaron Acosta." When asked about Armstrong, Yau stated, "We like to save Joe and use him in certain situations."

For results and West Regional schedules go to the TCV Sports website at sports.tricityvoice.com.

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