South county success |

South county success

John Karas couldn’t have hidden his smile had he tried Friday night. Bear River’s Little League president had just watched one of his south county squads claim another championship this summer.

When Bear River’s 10-11 year old All-Stars topped host Penn Valley 15-3 in five innings, the Area 2 championship marked the sixth title won by a Bear River ball club in the past month.

But even wider than the smile Karas was wearing was the grin on the face of Bear River’s 10-11 All-Stars team manager, Randy Anderson.

“These kids are an incredible bunch,” Anderson said. “We had them last year as 9-10 year olds. We knew they had a lot of good skills, but they’re good kids who have bonded really well, too.

“We knew if we stayed with our gameplan, we wouldn’t have a problem.”

That gameplan was broken down into two parts when Anderson and his staff opened All-Star practices with the group. Their first focus was defense, which Bear River’s boys zeroed in on from the start. The team allowed a total of 12 runs in four games, thanks to sharp fielding and strong pitching from Dayton Anderson, Kyle Soria, Michael Scudero, Martin Vigil and Brett Solomon, who was Friday night’s starter.

And it was no surprise to Bear River’s coaches that the second part of the plan was even more well-received by their players.

“We kind of split it into two halves,” Randy Anderson said. “And when we said ‘Now, we’re hitting, hitting and hitting … they started looking for pitches they could drive.”

Bear River found plenty of those Friday night, as the team totaled 16 hits in the win over Penn Valley. And to show just how deep those bats go, the top hitter in the title game was Travis Whitehead, who came off the bench for a 3-for-3 day with 4 RBIs.

“Our motto has been ‘everybody has got a job to do,'” Randy Anderson said.

Message delivered and received.

Bear River did not rely on the top of its order to carry the club to the championship Friday. In fact, the bottom three spots in the order produced an eye-popping 6-for-11 plate performance with eight runs batted in and seven runs scored.

Matt Lopez and Nick Mansuetti were key cogs in that production. Lopez went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored, while Mansuetti was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Derek Adleman added an RBI single and Vigil drove a run home with a double.

Tyler Toft, Bear River’s catcher, added a 2-for-4 game with an RBI in the No. 2 slot in the batting order.

Solomon, a southpaw, threw the first four innings of work for the win. He totaled seven strikeouts against two walks, four hits and three runs.

His starting counterpart, Jonathon Finau of Penn Valley, looked sharp early on as he escaped a first-inning jam by striking out a batter looking. The next inning, however, Bear River broke out the bats for two runs on three hits.

Finau, Jimmy Fowler and Chris Sardo each saw action on the hill for Penn Valley, as Bear River’s offense erupted for a four-run third inning, a five-run fourth and four-run fifth frame.

Penn Valley pulled out to a 2-0 lead in the first, as George Olson drove home both runs on a two-out double to left field. Dalton Maxwell also singled in the inning, while Finau, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, added a double to left field as the hosts took the early lead.

Bear River will be back in action at 5:30 p.m. today in Penn Valley with the opening round of the District 11 championship series. District 11 Administrator Dick Gold said Tri-City pulled out a 13-11 win in the Area 1 title game Friday night over Rocklin. The two teams will meet again at 5:30 p.m. Sunday in Rocklin. And, if it’s necessary to settle the best-of-three-games series, both squads will return to Penn Valley on Monday.

The Area 2 championship win by Bear River’s 10-11 All-Stars was the latest in a long string of success by the south county league’s teams in the past month, which started with a pair of Tournament of Champions Area 2 titles at the Major and Senior levels. Bear River’s River Cats then went on to win the District 11 Senior TOC championship.

Bear River also claimed the Area 2 Junior All-Stars crown earlier this week and added an Area 2 Majors championship on Thursday night at Pioneer Park in Nevada City.

That Majors All-Stars team will begin the District 11 championship series today at 7 p.m. in Lincoln against Rocklin.

According to Gold, Rocklin claimed the Area 1 crown Friday night over Tri-City. Game two in the series will be 7 p.m. Sunday in Nevada City, with game three – if necessary – set for 7 p.m. Monday in Lincoln.

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

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