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Little League: NC Rangers win TOC title

Grass Valley Reds pitcher Kade Hiatt (6) fires a pitch toward Nevada City Rangers batter Aiden Panock (99) during the Rangers’ TOC Little League title win over the Reds Thursday at Condon Park.
Photo: Elias Funez

The Little League District 11 postseason is off to a hot start.

With temperatures hovering around triple digits Thursday afternoon at Condon Park in Grass Valley, the top two Intermediate Division (13-and-under) teams in District 11 battled it out in a thrilling Tournament of Champions title game.

With impressive efforts from the mound and timely hitting, it was the Nevada City Rangers earning a hard-fought, 6-4, win over the Grass Valley Reds to claim the TOC banner.



“Both teams played well,” said Rangers manager Josh Pack. “We made a few less mistakes, we had some timely hitting with two outs, and our pitching was fantastic. I’m really proud of the guys, every kid contributed and I’m really proud of their effort.”

The Rangers were led by starting pitcher Dylan Blackmon, who tossed 4.1 innings, allowed two runs and struck out six.



“I was mostly pumping fast balls throughout the game and it was working for me,” said Blackmon. “It feels really good (to win). It was a really good game.”

Nevada City Rangers’ Craig Statler celebrates with his team after winning the TOC title Thursday evening at Condon Park.
Photo: Elias Funez

Blackmon also helped himself at the plate with a pair of singles, an RBI, and a run scored.

The Rangers also got strong efforts at the plate from Aiden Panock and Lucas Frisella. Panock went 3-for-4 in the game with an RBI and a run scored. Frisella came through in the clutch with a two-out RBI double that put the Rangers up 5-1 in the top of the fifth.

The Reds would charge back thanks in large part to Devin Taylor. The speedy leadoff hitter went 4-for-4 from the plate, scored the Reds first run and knocked in the other three.

Clinging to a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh and final inning, Rangers pitcher Craig Statler put to rest any hopes the Reds may have had for a comeback.

“Just throw strikes,” Statler said of what was going through his head in the final inning. “The umpire liked them low and to the left so that’s where I was putting them. They got to the top of their lineup and I was a little worried, but not too much, I have a strong defense behind me.”

Statler tossed the final 2.2 innings and struck out five to earn the save.

Nevada City Rangers’ batter Aiden Panock (99) hits a triple in the top of the 4th inning.
Photo: Elias Funez

“The (Reds) are our rivals and they had our number earlier in the year,” said Pack. “They have incredible pitching, a really deep team, very talented, but we have a good team ourselves. About mid-way through the year we were getting better every game, and I told my kids ‘to not worry about the first game, worry about the last game, get better every game and things will work themselves out.’”

TOC TOURNEYS

Nevada City Rangers pitcher Dylan Blackmon (27) watches as he strikes out a Grass Valley Reds batter.
Photo: Elias Funez

Grass Valley Little League is also hosting the Juniors Division (14-and-under) Tournament of Champions at Condon Park. The tourney starts at 9 a.m. today with a bout between teams from Sierra Foothills and Tri-Cities Little Leagues. That will be followed by a 12:30 p.m. contest between teams from Bear River and Lincoln, a 4 p.m. matchup between teams from Nevada City and Rocklin, and a 7 p.m. nightcap between teams from Grass Valley and Auburn. The tourney is single elimination and semifinal matchups will be held Sunday at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Condon Park. The championship game is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday.

The Minors Division (11-and-under) Tournament of Champions opened Friday afternoon in Auburn with a matchup between teams from Grass Valley and Nevada City. The tourney will run throughout the weekend with the title game set for Monday. In addition to the squads from Grass Valley and Nevada City, the tourney also includes teams from Mid-Placer, Bear River, Sierra Foothills, Auburn, Rocklin, Lincoln and Tri-Cities Little Leagues.

The Majors Division (12-and-under) Tournament of Champions features 16 teams and gets rolling at 9 a.m. today at the Bear River Little League fields. The first contest is between Grass Valley A and Rocklin A. The tourney runs throughout the weekend and into next week with the championship round set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Grass Valley Reds’ Trace Shelton (2) awaits the tag at home of Nevada City Rangers base runner Charlie LaJevnesse (7).
Photo: Elias Funez

The Majors Division (12-and-under) Softball Tournament of Champions starts up Monday at the Foresthill Little League fields. It’s a five-team, single-elimination tournament that runs Monday through Thursday. The Nevada City B team faces off with a squad from Auburn in the 5:30 p.m. Monday opener. The Nevada City A team opens play at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday against a team from Bear River. The championship matchup is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

UPCOMING ALL-STAR TOURNEYS

District 11 All-Star Tournaments get rolling shortly after the Tournament of Champions. The Intermediate and Junior Division All-Star tourney will be held at Condon Park. The Intermediate All-Stars get going Tuesday and the Junior All-Stars open play June 26.

The 10-12 All-Stars will battle it out at the Tri-Cities Little League fields starting July 2. The 9-11 All-Stars will be at the Bear River Little League fields starting July 5. And, the 8-10 All-Stars will play out their tourney at the Auburn Little League fields, starting June 26.

For a complete look at the District 11 postseason brackets visit http://www.district11llb.com.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email wford@theunion.com


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