Downright dominant |

Downright dominant

Despite the haze of smoke hovering above the Nevada City Little League diamond all week, it became absolutely crystal clear that the Bear River Major All-Stars were the cream of the Area 2 tournament crop.

In the three games it took Bear River to wrap up the area title, the south county All-Stars outscored their opponents by a 36-1 margin – the latest victim being a scrappy Penn Valley club that fell 7-0 at Pioneer Park Thursday night.

Bear River now shifts its focus on the District 11 banner, which will be up for grabs as soon as the Area 1 tournament comes to a close.

“This team has the potential,” said Bear River manager Mike Sypnicki. “We have the arms and we have the team speed. And if we keep getting timely hitting, there are just no limits for these 12 kids.”

One of those kids came up big both on the mound and at the plate against Penn Valley. Andrew Reiss racked up 11 strikeouts while throwing a two-hit shutout. But ask him whether he prefers pitching or hitting – at which he went 3-for-3 with a home run and three runs scored – and there’s no hesitation.

“Hitting,” he said, “because I’m good at it and it just feels nice when I get a hit.”

And when that hit leaves the park?

“That’s really nice.”

Reiss’ two-run blast broke the game open in the top of the third inning, just moments after Jake Sypnicki drove home the game’s first score with an RBI single to right field, giving Bear River a 3-0 lead.

Up to that point, Reiss and his Penn Valley counterpart, Brandon Fouse, were locked up in a two-inning pitcher’s duel as each escaped early trouble without giving up a run. For his part, Fouse struck out five batters on the night.

The scene was similar to what fans had seen from Bear River’s bunch in its previous two contests. Travis Anderson struck out 10 and gave up two hits in the 10-0 tournament opening win over Grass Valley. In the second round, Jake Sypnicki and Brandon Donley combined for a two-hitter in a 17-1 win over Nevada City.

“The pitchers have been hitting their spots for three games,” said Mike Sypnicki. “When that’s taking place, it makes it a lot easier. And when teams did put the ball in play, we made the plays. That about sums up our three games.”

Penn Valley’s two hits in the game came in the form of singles off the bats of Beau DesPois and Travis Hansen.

Aside from Reiss’ power hitting Thursday, several other Bear River players also produced at the plate. Steven Ertola went 2-for-3 with a double and Jake Sypnicki added a 2-for-4 night with a double.

“The guys hitting (the ball) into the weeds up here are going to get the attention,” Mike Sypnicki said, but the guys who are setting the table … all of those kids are the unsung heroes.”

Bear River will face the Area 1 champion in the District 11 championship series, which was originally set to start Sunday. However due to games postponed by smoky skies earlier this week, the Area 1 tournament still had three teams in the hunt for its crown heading into Thursday night’s action.

Tri-City and Lincoln were scheduled to play in the consolation bracket final for the right to face unbeaten Rocklin in the title matchup today.

To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail or call 477-4240.

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