It was a one-sided slugfest under the lights Friday at Pioneer Park, as Grass Valley walloped Foresthill 20-3 in a mercy-rule shortened four inning contest in the first round of the District 11 (Area 2) All-Star tournament.
Both offenses were a little shy in the first inning with each squad leaving the bases loaded as Foresthill starting pitcher Drew Stoop and Grass Valley starter Kyler Callison struck out batters to get out of the jam. However, in the second inning Grass Vallley’s bats erupted for 15 runs, which was highlighted by back-to-back jacks from Chris Buonarati and Kai LaBarbera.
“We got a lot of help from the defense,” said Grass Valley head coach Jim Amaral, excited after his team’s big win. “We left the bases loaded in the first and didn’t score so I was a little concerned, but then we started hitting the ball. It was a good team effort centered around Kai. We had lots of contributions all around.”
LaBarbera jumped all over a pitch for the team’s first hit, driving in two runs with a ground-rule double to right field. Later in the inning Issac Ortega sent a hard smash into right field, which drove in another pair of runs to extend the lead to 8-0. A few batters later with the bases loaded, Buonarati stepped up to the plate and launched a towering grand slam homerun deep into the ponderosas in left center field. The rally continued as LaBarbera dug his cleats and tomahawked a laser over the left field fence, which made it 14-0.
“It was really nerve-racking for me,” said LaBarbera, who hit for the cycle finishing 4-for-5 with five RBIs. “I knew we had a good team just not how good. Tonight was way huge. Hitting for the cycle was always my dream. Chris hit the grand slam and we went back-to-back. It gave us a great boost of confidence.”
Foresthill needed three pitchers to complete the second inning and would go on use one more as Grass Valley added five more runs in the top of the third with RBIs from LaBarbera, Callison, Ty Daugherty and Ortega, who finished 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs. Callison pitched an effective two innings, allowing just three runs on three hits with a walk and struck out five. Grass Valley turned to Hayden Lee to close out the game, who tossed the final two innings yielding just one hit and fanned three batters.
Knocking in runs for Foresthill were Justin Leyba and Nick Lechnor.
Grass Valley takes the field at 7:30 p.m. Sunday against the winner of the Sierra Foothill vs. Nevada City ballgame, which is 5 p.m. today at Pioneer Park.
Sierra Foothill 13, Penn Valley 2
The All-Stars from Penn Valley ran into a Sierra Foothill sized buzz saw Friday in the opening round of the Little League District 11 (Area 2) Majors tourney, losing to the All-Stars from the Colfax area, 13-2.
“We got some good hitters and when they are on we should do pretty good,” said Sierra Foothill head coach Bill Groth. “Our pitcher threw a lot of strikes which is important. I wish we played a little better defense, but hopefully that will get better next game.”
Sierra Foothill had three pitchers combine for a two-hitter through with Alex Weir throwing the first two innings and striking out five. Jason Holm pitched the next inning and a third, and Mike Lavigne finished out the game for Sierra Foothills.
After a quiet first inning, the All-Stars from Sierra Foothill let the bats ring with three runs in the third inning, eight runs in the third and two more in the fifth to clinch the mercy-rule win.
From the plate, Sierra Foothill got home runs from Max Dwyer and Weir. Dwyer finished with three RBIs, and Weir had two RBIs to go with two runs scored.
Penn Valley managed two hits, a triple off the bat of Kyle Frei and a base hit by Carson Culler.
Sierra Foothill will now take on Nevada City at 5 p.m. today.
Bear River 10, Tri City 2
The Bear River All-Stars opened the District 11 (Area 1) tourney on the right foot, topping Tri-City, 10-2.
Bear River’s Cole Winters pitched 6 1/3 innings, before being pulled due to pitch count restrictions. Caleb Hurst came in and wrapped things up with a strike out and a groundout.
From the plate, Bear River was led by Justin Powell and Winters, who both went deep in the game.
Bear River will face Lincoln at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Grass Valley 13, Bear River 2
The All-Stars from Grass Valley scored in four of the five innings played Friday as they earned a mercy-rule win over Bear River in the first round of the District 11 All-Star tourney.
Ty Trathen tallied three hits for Grass Valley to lead the way, Tyler Neilson drove three runs in and Jace Wheeler drew three walks as Grass Valley got offense production up and down its lineup.
Grass Valley will now face host Tri-City at 5 p.m. Sunday.