FASTPITCH SOFTBALL: Bulldogs win American League Championship
The Bulldogs hadn’t lost since mid-May, and they weren’t about to start with the league title on the line.
With stellar defense, strong pitching and plenty of offense, the Bulldogs reclaimed their spot at the top of Nevada County Fastpitch Softball by winning the American League Championship Game, 7-2, over 2016 champs All Star Automotive.
“It’s real nice to bring it back,” said Bulldogs pitcher Bobby Alvara. “Get bragging rights.”
The Bulldogs, who also won the league championship in 2015, jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning after leadoff hitter Kody Kencke reached on a single and later scored on a Justin Deme double. Jeff Nye, who followed Kencke with a single, would later score on a Jarett Roenicke RBI groundout to put the Bulldogs up 2-0.
The Bulldogs added three more runs in the third inning when Deme brought Kencke home again, this time with a sacrifice fly ball. Bulldogs catcher Josh Van Matre then smoked a two-out double to left field scoring Nye and Roenicke and putting his team up 5-0.
The lead expanded to 6-0 in the fourth with a Russell Brackett RBI double. Van Matre then crushed a solo homerun in the bottom of the fifth to stake the Bulldogs to a 7-0 lead. Van Matre was a power source in the middle of the Bulldogs lineup, going 2-for-3 with a double, home run and three RBIs in the game.
“I couldn’t capitalize in the first inning. Milli (All Star Auto pitcher Mike Milligan) threw a great change up and struck me out, but you know I got lucky on the next two,” said Van Matre. “Milli’s a great pitcher and he owned me all season, so it’s always fun to get a couple hits on Milli. He’s a tough one.”
The seven runs of support were more than enough for Alvara, who tossed all seven innings, struck out seven, allowed six hits and two runs.
“They’re tough,” Alvara said of the All Star Auto lineup. “I just try to hit spots and let my defense work behind me. They were there for me today.”
Van Matre, Alvara’s batterymate, had high praise for his pitcher after the winning effort.
“Bobby’s a stud,” Van Matre said. “I love catching him. He’s a bulldog out there and no matter what, he’s going to battle. He threw great tonight. He was effective and hit his spots when he needed to.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs were impressive, playing an error-free game to back their pitcher.
“We played great defense,” Van Matre said. “It was huge. We came out and backed up Bobby. As a team, we’re tough to beat, and it’s fun when we actually play defense, use our gloves and not kick the ball around.”
All Star Auto finally got on the board in the seventh and final inning, getting a solo home run from Justin Nicholson and an RBI single from Wes Cross that scored Ryan Carlson. Nicholson led All Star Auto with two hits, a double of the top of the left field fence and the solo shot in the seventh.
Milligan pitched a complete game for All Star Auto, striking out six and allowing seven runs off eight hits.
The Bulldogs finish the season 13-2 overall with 13 straight wins and the American League title.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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