FAST PITCH SOFTBALL: All-Star Automotive/10-35 Foundation powers way to Pete ’n Peters tourney title
Special to The Union
TAHOE CITY — While fast pitch softball has long been dictated by the play of what comes out of the pitcher’s circle, the All-Star Automotive/10-35 Foundation men’s team from Grass Valley showed Sunday that there’s still room for the long ball in helping decide championship games.
Anchored by a pair of three-run home runs, the All-Star Automotive/10-35 Foundation squad powered past the East Bay Bashers of Hayward, 8-6, to win the championship at the Pete ’n Peters Classic, the first men’s fast pitch tournament played on the north shore of Lake Tahoe since the mid-1990s.
All-Star Automotive/10-35 Foundation, made up by a core of former Nevada Union High baseball standouts, went 4-0 in capturing the tournament’s first-place hardware. The tournament was co-sponsored by the Colfax Recreation Association and Pete ’n Peters.
All-Star Automotive/10-35 Foundation began their tourney run on Saturday with a tight, 5-4, verdict over the Reno Pirates before drilling the River City Rockers twice, 9-1, in Saturday’s pool play and then again 10-0, in Sunday’s elimination round.
In Sunday’s title game against the Bashers, the All-Star Automotive/10-35 Foundation unit wiped out an early 1-0 East Bay lead in the bottom of the first when Justin Deme unloaded a three-run homer over the right centerfield fence for a 3-1 advantage.
But after East Bay scratched across two more runs in the second and one more in the third for a 4-3 lead, All-Star Automotive/10-35 Foundation came up big again.
After Russell Brackett walked and went to second on a passed ball, Deme was intentionally walked, putting runners on first and second with one out. The strategy seemed to have worked when Bashers hurler Monte Hernandez got the next batter to pop to first for the second out.
However, on the next batter, Hernandez came inside to Rusty Newnan, who deposited the rise ball over the fence in center field. The three-run blast gave the Grass Valley squad a 6-4 lead.
All-Star Automotive/10-35 Foundation then added a solo run in the fifth inning on Kody Kencke’s triple and Brackett’s RBI single. They added another run in the sixth when designated runner Nick Costa used some heads up base running for an 8-4 lead.
The runs proved to come in handy because the Bashers used Dillon Smith’s two-run seventh inning homer to close to within 8-6. After getting the tying run to the plate, All-Star Automotive/10-35 Foundation pitcher Mike Milligan induced a line-out to second baseman Daryl Allen for the game’s final out.
Deme, who was 6-for-10 in the tournament with two home runs and two triples, was tagged as the tournament’s MVP. He was joined on the all-tourney squad by Allen, Milligan and Kencke.
Walker’s Outlaws made some noise in the tournament as they reached the semi-final round. The Outlaws opened with a 12-4 loss to Pete ’n Peters but then rebounded on Sunday by turning the tables on the Tahoe City team with a 7-4 win.
The Outlaws were then eliminated by East Bay, 7-4, Sunday morning despite a grand slam from Jeremiah Flores. Top bats for the Outlaws in the tournament were provided by Flores, Mike Lenz, Chas Lowry and Craig Ray.
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Grass Valley native Brad Sweet drove past the competition and into victory lane last week, snapping his longest winless streak of the season.