With outstanding pitching, timely hitting and a whole lot of grit, the Nevada City All Stars are Little League Section 4 Juniors Division (14-and-under) champs.
“They’re a gutsy group,” said Nevada City All Stars manager Josh Van Matre. “I’m proud of them.”
Facing the Fair Oaks/Orangevale All Stars for the Section 4 championship Wednesday evening at Mahaney Sports Complex in Roseville, Nevada City scraped out a 6-5 extra-inning victory and did so in a rather unusual fashion.
Nevada City jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one inning, but Fair Oaks/Orangevale fought back with two runs in the fourth inning and another two in the sixth to tie it up. After a scoreless seventh inning, the game went to extras.
Fair Oaks/Orangevale scored a run in the top of the eighth inning to grab a momentary edge, but Nevada City answered back with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning to tie it at 5-5 and extend the game.
In the ninth inning, each team started their respective at-bat with a runner on second base, per Little League rules.
Nevada City held Fair Oaks/Orangevale scoreless in the top of the ninth, thanks in large part to a strikeout, throw-out double play.
In the bottom of the ninth, Nevada City would bring their allotted runner on second base around to score after a pair of Fair Oaks/Orangevale mistakes.
Fair Oaks/Orangevale got the first Nevada City batter out to start the inning, then went to intentionally walk the next batter to set up a potential double play. While in the process of intentionally walking the Nevada City batter, the Fair Oaks/Orangevale pitcher balked. That moved Nevada City’s runner from second to third. A second straight balk brought Nevada City’s runner home for a “balk-off, walk-off” victory.
“They’ve made strides and they are coming together as a team,” said Van Matre. “We’re looking forward to the next tournament. We’re one of seven (Junior Division teams) left in Northern California. Three-hundred and seventy teams started this tournament season in California and we’re one of seven left.”
The Nevada City All Stars faced elimination multiple times in the section tourney, but never stopped battling until they had the section banner in their hands.
“In the district tournament we saw some good competition, but our bats were clicking and we didn’t see the pitching we saw in this tournament,” Van Matre said. “We saw five aces in this section tournament, five legit aces. We didn’t touch any of ’em up, that’s for sure, but we grounded them down. We got the pitching counts up, got them out and got to their second guy, and then we found ways to win.”
Nevada City crushed its competition en route to the District 11 championship earlier in the month, but faced a much more difficult path in the Section 4 Tournament.
Nevada City opened the tourney with a 4-2 win over North Natomas July 14, and followed it with a 2-1 win over Woodcreek July 16. Nevada City suffered its first, and only, loss of the tourney on Saturday, falling to Fair Oaks/Orangevale, 2-0. The All Stars from Nevada City bounced back with a come-from-behind elimination-game victory over Woodcreek, 5-4, on Tuesday to earn a spot in the title game against Fair Oaks/Orangevale.
“We developed a lot of battle-tested kids in this tournament,” said Van Matre. “Being able to see five aces, five of the best pitchers we’ve seen all year and get Ws the hard way, by grinding them out, it’s awesome.”
The Nevada City All-Stars are comprised of Soren Caprio, Jack Bryan, Seth Arcand, Orlando Chilton, Nate Lossner, Josh Griffin, Izaya Little, Nate Hundemer, Mason Muellenhoff, Logan Eandi, Liam Crossen, Carter Van Matre and Isaac Arnerich. The team is led by manager Josh Van Matre, and coaches Bill Arnerich and Will Arcand.
Next up for Nevada City is the Northern California Tournament in Healdsburg. Nevada City’s opening round game is against Los Altos at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Nevada City’s run to a section championship marked the third time a local Little League team accomplished the feat this season. The Grass Valley All Stars (50/70 Intermediate Division) won the District 11 title and went on to claim the Section 4 banner before having their season come to a close in the Northern California Tournament. The Nevada City Softball All Stars (12-and-under Division) won the District 11 and Capital Section championships before having their season end at the Northern California tourney.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email email@example.com