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July 23, 2013 > District 14 Big League all-stars roll in regional play, miss World Series by one

District 14 Big League all-stars roll in regional play, miss World Series by one

Submitted By Ed Hugo

July 15: District 14 off to a quick start

The District 14 (D14) Big League all-star team got off to a quick start by winning two games on the first day of the Western Regionals in Bremerton, WA. With clear blue skies above and a prevailing breeze blowing in from the outfield, the D14 team defeated Montana 13-2 and Hawaii 7-2.

D14 used the steady pitching of Kenny Jacoby, Brandon Fuhs and James Gaffey to down Montana. The three hurlers combined to scatter three Montana hits while striking out six batters. Montana was able to score single runs in the third and sixth innings with both runners who scored reaching base on walks.

The D14 offense rapped out seven hits and was the recipients of eight walks and four hit batters as the Montana pitchers struggled to find the strike zone. D14 scored two runs in the first inning without the benefit of a hit. They added three runs in the third inning on singles by Brandon Fuhs and Reid Marion but left the bases loaded for the second inning in a row. With the score 5-1, D14 scored two additional runs in the fourth inning as Brandon Facha and Marion drove in runs with solid base hits. D14 put the game out of reach in the sixth inning as they scored four runs to increase their lead to 11-1. Facha had the big hit of the inning as he nailed a double to deep left field to drive in a run. D14 closed out their scoring in the top of the seventh inning when Devon Jones lashed a run scoring triple down the right field line. Jones would later score on a wild pitch to bring the final score to 13-2.

The D14 ball team then met the team from Kehei, Maui. Brandon Facha took the mound for D14 and pitched into the fifth inning allowing only one earned run. Scott Havard followed Facha to the mound and continued to keep the potent Hawaii bats silent. Facha and Havard combined to allow seven hits and to induce Hawaii to hit several routine ground balls. Facha was in trouble only once as Hawaii parlayed back-to-back singles along with a wild pitch to place runners on second and third with no one out in the fourth inning. But Facha was up to the task as he induced the next two batters to hit groundballs back to him and got the final out on a routine ground ball to second baseman Kenny Jacoby.

After being held without a run in the first inning, the D14 bats came alive in the second inning. Facha and Devon Jones led off the inning with back-to-back singles and Reid Marion reached on an error by the second baseman. James Gaffey then worked a walk to force in D14's first run of the game. Wyatt Ott followed with a walk of his own to give D14 a 2-1 lead. D14 added another run in the third inning to take a 3-1 lead but left the bases loaded. The D14 offense continued to put the pressure on Hawaii in the fourth inning but did not score as they left the bases loaded for the second inning in a row.

But the D14 offense broke through in the fifth inning. After the first two batters were retired on routine flyballs, Wyatt Ott and Jeff Chu got things going with back-to-back base hits. After Jacoby drew a four-pitch walk, Havard and Brandon Fuhs both came through in the clutch with two-run, two out base hits up the middle of the diamond to increase D14's lead to 7-2.
That was all Havard would need as he shut down the Hawaii offense over the last two innings to give D14 their second victory of the day.


July 17: District 14 Rolls to victory in 6-5 win over Montana

The District 14 (D14) Big League all-star team won their third game in row July 17 at the Western Regional tournament with a closer-than-expected 6-5 victory over Montana. D14 had previously beaten Montana 13-2 but this game was a completely different story. D14 built up an early 5-1 lead and added their sixth run in the bottom of the sixth inning to apparently put the game away. But the Montana team had other thoughts as they rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh inning and had the tying and winning runs on base when the last out of the game was recorded.

D14 used a quintet of pitchers during the game (primarily due to the pitch count rules) and sent James Gaffey to the hill to open the game. Kenny Jacoby and Brandon Fuhs followed Gaffey to the mound and they combined to allow Montana a single run on five hits while striking out six batters. They were supported by some sparkling defense. In the first inning, left fielder Austin Robles made a nice running catch of a long fly ball that would have driven home a run for Montana. In the fourth inning, with one out and a Montana runner on second base, D14 centerfielder Jeff Chu made a spectacular diving catch on a ball that looked like it would drop in front of him for a base hit. Now with two outs and the Montana runner still on second base after Chu's catch, D14 third baseman Brandon Facha dove to his right and snagged a hard hit ground ball that was headed for the left field corner. Facha then scrambled to his feet and threw a strike to first base to retire the Montana batter to end the rally. In the fifth inning, right fielder Martin Padilla made a diving catch to end another potential Montana rally.

D14 got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning. After loading the bases on a pair of walks and a base hit by Scott Havard, Fuhs worked a walk that forced in the first run of the game. Montana then switched pitchers and the new hurler struck out the next two D14 batters. But Gaffey picked up his team with a solid line drive single to drive in the second and third runs of the inning for D14.

After Montana scored their first run of the game in the top of the third inning to cut D14's lead to 3-1, the D14 offense responded as Gaffey came through in the clutch once again. This time he lined an opposite two-out, two-out double to drive home D14's fourth and fifth run of the game. D14 scored their final run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Chu's base hit drove home Padilla with what proved to be a very important sixth run for D14.

Heading to the seventh inning and D14 holding a 6-1 lead, Padilla took to the mound to finish out the game. But Montana worked Padilla for a hit, a couple of walks and a hit batter to cut D14's lead to 6-2. Havard came in to relieve Padilla and surrendered a base hit to cut the lead to 6-3 and then balked in Montana's fourth run cutting D14's lead to 6-4. Montana now found themselves with no outs and the tying runs on second and third. Havard then induced the next Montana batter to fly to Padilla who was now in right field. Padilla made the routine catch and then threw a one-hop strike to catcher Devon Jones who applied the tag to the Montana runner who had tagged up and tried to score. Montana would not give up as they touched Havard for two more base hits to load the bases. Havard then sent the D14 players, coaches and fans home with a 6-5 victory at he struck out the final Montana batter.


July 18: District 14 Big League All-stars undefeated

The District 14 (D14) Big League all-star team from the Fremont/Newark area won their fourth straight pool play game today edging Hawaii 7-6 behind a gutty pitching performance by James Gaffey. D14 has earned the top seed in their pool of teams and will play to determine which team plays in the championship game. The winner of the championship game heads to Easley, South Carolina for the Big League World Series.

It looked like the road to victory would be a rather simple task as D14 jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first inning as they took advantage of the wildness of the Hawaii starting pitcher. Jeff Chu led off the game by being nicked by a pitch and Kenny Jacoby followed with a textbook sacrifice bunt to move Chu to second base. Scott Havard and Brandon Fuhs then walked to load the bases with one out. Brandon Facha was then hit by a pitch to force in D14's first run of the game. That was enough for the Hawaii coaches as they replaced their starting pitcher. Devon Jones stepped to the plate and immediately went to an 0-2 count. But Jones came up big as he rifled a shot by the Hawaiian third baseman that rolled to the left field corner for a two-run double to put D14 up 3-0. D14 would score two more runs in the inning with Gaffey driving home a run on an infield grounder and Jones scoring on a Hawaii error.

Hawaii would not go quietly as they mounted a four-run rally of their own in the top of the second inning. With two outs, Gaffey induced the Hawaii batter to hit a seemingly harmless pop up down the right field line. But with right fielder Reid Marion positioned towards right center field, the ball dropped in for a run scoring single and Hawaii was on the board. Hawaii then strung together three more hits to close the gap to 5-4. Gaffey had to expend 42 pitches during the long inning and it appeared that D14 would need to go to their bullpen much earlier than desired.

Hawaii would tie the score in the third inning and looked like they were positioned for another big inning but with the bases loaded and one out, Gaffey got the Hawaii batter to hit a sharp ground ball to third baseman Fuhs who threw home to catcher Jones to force out the lead base runner and Jones then threw a strike to first baseman Facha to record an inning ending double play.

D14 took a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning as Chu led off the inning with a single. He then stole second and moved up to third on a ground out by Kenny Jacoby. Scott Havard followed with a line drive single to drive home Chu and put D14 in the lead. The game remained 6-5 in favor of D14 until the sixth inning when Hawaii tied the score on a two-out double.

D14 came right back with a rally of their own in the bottom of the sixth inning as Jacoby drew a one-out walk and moved to second on Havard's third hit of the game. Jacoby moved to third on a long fly to center by Fuhs and score what proved to be the game winning run when Facha hit a chopper to the Hawaii third baseman who attempted to short hop the ball but it bounced off his glove for an infield single and D14 had the lead 6-5.

Gaffey proved to be the hero of the game as he pitched in and out of trouble and lasted a total of six innings for D14 after it appeared he may not last more than the first two innings. Havard followed Gaffey on the mound and pitched a three up, three down seventh inning to vault D14 into the Western Regional playoffs for the first time in D14 history.


July 19: District 14 Big League All-Star team reaches Finals

History is being made in the northwest as the District 14 (D14) Big League all-star team has reached the Western Regional finals with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over Oregon. This is the first time in the 20-year history of D14 that an all-star team has reached the Western Regional finals.

Thomas Rodriguez got the call to start on the mound for D14 in this semi-final game. Rodriguez was up to the task as he limited Oregon to a lone run on four hits over the first five innings using only 55 pitches. His teammates provided some early offensive support as they got on the board with the first two runs of the game in the bottom of the second inning. Devon Jones led off the inning with a long double down the left field line. James Gaffey followed with a single that drove Jones home for a 1-0 D14 lead. Gaffey came around to score as a ball off the bat of Martin Padilla was misplayed by the Oregon pitcher to put D14 ahead 2-0. Jeff Chu followed by reaching base on another Oregon error and Kenny Jacoby walked to put runners on first and second base with two outs. But the Oregon pitch got hot-hitting Scott Havard to ground out to end the inning and minimize the damage.

Oregon scored their first run of the game in the top of the third inning. With runners on second and third base due to two hit batters, the Oregon catcher hit a line drive single to D14 left fielder Padilla who threw a one-hop bullet to catcher Jones who applied the tag on the second runner trying to score. Rodriguez then got the next batter to ground out to end the inning with D14 leading 2-1.

D14 scored their third run of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning when Padilla rapped out a two-out base hit and was driven in by a towering double off of the bat of Chu. Jacoby followed Chu with his second hit of the game but Chu was thrown out at the plate on an excellent throw by the Oregon center fielder.

Things stayed quiet in the fifth inning as neither team could mount a threat. Rodriguez was cruising on the mound but Oregon put together a rally in the sixth inning that resulted in three runs scoring and D14 falling behind for only the second time in the tournament 4-3. Rodriguez retired the leadoff man but with one out, Oregon put together a single and two walks to load the bases. Coach Wayne Chung then called for Brandon Facha to replace Rodriguez. With the bases loaded and one out, Facha was looking for a strike out and got it for the second out of the inning. The next Oregon batter hit what appeared to be a routine ground ball to shortstop Havard who threw to second base to force the runner. But D14 second baseman Jacoby did not get to the bag in time. A run scored cutting D14's lead to 3-2. The next batter hit a groundball to deep shortstop and Havard's throw to first base was errant allowing two runs to score putting Oregon ahead 4-3.

Now facing elimination, the D14 offense rallied to tie the score thanks to two more errors by the Oregon defense. With two out, it was Padilla again getting on base as he reached second base on an infield throwing error. Austin Robles followed with a line drive to the Oregon first baseman who was not able to handle the ball cleanly allowing Padilla to score and tie the game at 4-4.

Facha shut down the Oregon offense in the top of the seventh inning giving D14 a chance to win the game in regulation. Havard opened the bottom of the seventh inning with a walk. He promptly stole second base but remained there as Brandon Fuhs and Facha were unable to drive him home. That brought Jones to the plate who drove a one and two pitch to left centerfield to bring Havard home with the winning run and setting up an all California final. The winner of the NorCal/SoCal championship game will earn the right to represent the Western Region at the Big League World Series in Easley, North Carolina that begins on Wednesday, July 24.


July 20: District 14 Big League All-Stars fall one game short of World Series

With a trip to the Big League World Series in Easley, SC at stake, the District 14 (D14) Big League all-star team from NorCal battled a tough and talented team from Thousand Oaks (SoCal) in the championship game of the Western Regionals in Bremerton, WA. D14 fell short of their World Series dream as SoCal put on an impressive hitting display and downed D14 12-2 in five innings.

D14 had their ace, Brandon Facha, on the hill for the biggest game ever played by a D14 Big League team. The game started off with SoCal scoring the game's initial run in the bottom of the first inning as Facha nicked the leadoff batter with a pitch who then scored on a one-out double. But Facha battled back and retired the next two batters to limit the damage. Down 1-0, D14 evened the score in the top of the second inning as Devon Jones' two-out single drove in Facha whose bad hop shot down the third baseline had careened off of the SoCal third baseman's cheek and rolled into foul territory as Facha hustled to second base with a double.

With the score tied 1-1 and D14's hopes of a trip to Easley still alive and well, the SoCal bats came alive in the bottom of the second inning as they amassed six hits and scored six runs to take a 7-1 lead. The normally steady D14 defense committed a costly error during the rally resulting in two of the six runs being unearned but the runs were on the board.

Looking for the offense to kick in, D14 staged a brief rally in the top of the third inning. Scott Havard drew a one-out walk and moved up to second base on a passed ball. Jones then came through once again with another clutch two-out single to drive Havard home with D14's second run. But SoCal came right back and scored their eighth run in the bottom of the third inning to lead the game 8-2.

Try as they might, D14 could not get their offense going as a potential rally in the fourth inning did not produce any runs. Reid Marion led off the inning with a double to left centerfield. With one out, Jeff Chu walked to place runners on first and second base. Kenny Jacoby then got a hold of a fastball and drove it to deep down the left field line but the left fielder ran the ball down for the second out. Havard followed with a ground ball between short and third which looked like it would load the bases but the SoCal shortstop made a nice play forcing Marion at third base for the final out of the inning. D14 would get no closer as the SoCal bats and defensive mistakes by D1 allowed SoCal to score four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to end the contest by the 10-run rule.

It was an emotional ending for D14 as several team members are 18 years old and have reached the end of their Little League playing days after playing together for more than five years on various all-star teams. Nine members of the team and two of the coaches reached the 2009 Junior Division Western Regionals as representatives of Mission San Jose Little League. That team accumulated a 17-2 all-star record before being eliminated.

Overall, the D14 all-star team had a record of 10-1 and won the Section 3 and Division II (NorCal) tournaments, were the second best team in the Western Region which covers more than 10 states and came within one game of a trip to Easley, SC - a truly remarkable achievement.

The D14 ballplayers were Mark Bontempo, Jeff Chu, Brandon Facha, Brandon Fuhs, James Gaffey, Scott Havard, Kenny Jacoby, Devon Jones, Christian Letona, Reid Marion, Wyatt Ott, Martin Padilla, Austin Robles, Thomas Rodriguez, and JJ Sanchez and coaches Wayne Chung, Ed Hugo and Lucky Ott. In addition, each player had at least one family member who made the trek to Washington to watch their boys play and provided consistent support throughout the week long tournament. Congratulations to all on a job very, very well done.

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