The 9-10 Nevada City All-Stars are on their way to the District 11 Area 2 championship after eliminating the Grass Valley All-Stars 8-0 with a dominating performance on the mound by Trevor Neilson Friday night at Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley.
Neilson threw an impressive 5 1/3 innings as he yielded just three hits, no runs and one walk and fanned 10 batters. Grass Valley left five runners stranded for the game and once came close to breaking the shutout in the bottom of the fourth inning, but Nevada City went home on a fielder’s choice to end the threat.
“I focused,” said Nevada City starting pitcher Neilson. “My four-seam fastball went straight down the middle. We dominated. We did the best we ever have. Patrick (Harrell) stopped lots of balls at third and hit well.”
The two teams also met last Sunday on opening night of the tournament in a game where Nevada City knocked off Grass Valley 18-8. Although Friday night’s result was the same, it was evident Nevada City stepped up its defensive efforts.
“Last game we played them, our two-three-four hitters batted 1.000,” said Grass Valley coach Conor Farrell. “Tonight they went .750. Trevor Neilson faced 21 batters and struck out 10. The kids brought 100 percent, every single kid. I’m real proud of them.”
Nevada City scored two runs in the top of the second off Grass Valley starting pitcher Parker Chow. Ben Fitzpatrick had an RBI single up the middle, and another run later came in off a passed ball. Chow finished the evening with 1 2/3 innings pitched and allowed two runs, two hits and a walk, hit a batter and struck out two.
The big offensive rally would come an inning later for Nevada City in the third when it scored five runs to build a 7-0 lead. It all started with a lead-off single by Neilson, which was followed by ball put in play by Matthew Tintle that enabled him to reach on an error. Tintle would later add a double. Derick Hicks laid down a bunt single to load the bases with nobody out. Triton Green and Caden Harlibakis both drew walks to bring runs home. A couple of wild pitches, passed balls and an error later, it was suddenly 7-0.
Hicks, Fitzpatrick, Tintle, Farrell, Neilson and Corey Ellis scattered seven hits for Nevada City. For Grass Valley, it was Austin Cameron and Ty Daugherty who collected the team’s three hits. Also throwing for Grass Valley in the game were Aidan Keros and Wyatt Stallings, who entered in the middle of the third and settled things down as he surrendered one run and struck out five over 3 2/3 innings.
After giving up a base hit in the top of the sixth, Nielson was relieved by Green. With one out and a runner on first, Green induced a ground ball, and Nevada City got the lead runner at second. Down to its last out, Grass Valley sent Cameron to the plate who smashed a shot up the middle, but the ball couldn’t find its way past the diving glove of Nielson who quickly got to his feet and fired a bullet to first to send his team to the championship.
“(Nielson) was destined to finish that game,” coach Farrell said. “Patrick (Harrell) also took one off the chest at third, had the wind knocked out of him and still made the play.”
Nevada City now advances to the championship where it will need to defeat the Sierra Foothills All-Stars twice. Game 1 is today at 5 p.m. at Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley. Game 2, if necessary, will be at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Western Gateway Park.
“We need to do exactly the same thing,” added Neilson. “We’ll stay back in the box.”
Sierra Foothills proved to be a tough opponent for Nevada City earlier this week when it lost 13-0.
“Sierra Foothills has been shutting everybody down,” explained Farrell. “We weren’t playing our best when we played them. We need to rise to our full potential. I think we’re going to surprise them. Matthew (Tintle) had 38 pitches and allowed two runs when we played them. We’re starting him and setting up our great defense, but we need to come out strong early on offense.”
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4234.