Junior Legion teams fall in tourney openers | TheUnion.com

Junior Legion teams fall in tourney openers

AUBURN – Both of Grass Valley American Legion Post 130’s junior legion baseball teams came close to recording upsets in the first round of the District 31 Tournament at James Field Thursday.

Close, but no cigar.

Seventh-seeded Bear River led No. 2 Auburn by a run in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t hold on in a 6-5 loss.

Eighth-seeded Nevada Union had No. 1 Rocklin on the ropes late, but fell victim to a squeeze play in the bottom of the seventh to lose 6-5.

Bear River will meet Nevada Union 1 p.m. Friday.

After falling behind early, Bear River fought back to within one run going into the seventh.

The visitors sandwiched a Ken Dant sacrifice bunt between a pair of walks, then loaded the bases for Eric Tomczak on a Denny Wibbenhorst single to shallow left center.

Tomczak, whose diving grab in left field robbed Auburn’s Niko Bajorek of extra bases in the first inning, tied the game with an infield single.

With the bases loaded and one out, Chris Smith put Bear River on top for the first time on the afternoon with a single to center field.

“We’ve been doing that all year where we give up runs early, then we settle in and come back in the sixth or seventh inning,” Bear River head coach Rob Waldman said.

Auburn led the seventh off with a single, then moved a runner to second on a Bear River throwing error to first after a fielder’s choice to second.

Bear River starting pitcher Chris Ose got the next batter to fly out, but gave up an RBI double to Blake Ballantine.

With two outs and Ballantine on third, Auburn’s Jesse Morales took Ose to a full count, then drove in the game winner with a line drive to right field.

Bear River’s Wibbenhorst, Brittin Barber, Steve Viola and Chris Smith each went 2-for-4.

Barber had a team-high two RBIs. Viola had a double.

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