Storm strands White Sox

NORMANDY PARK - It was a confrontation that was befitting of champions.

In a battle that lasted nearly three hours, ending in the twilight's last gleaming, the Renton Storm stranded the Pac West White Sox in second place by escaping with a 15-11 six inning District 7 Little League Baseball Minors Tournament of Champions victory on Monday, June 18 at the City Hall Fields.

"Our goals were to improve, have fun and get to the Tournament of Champions," a very pleased Pac West manager Jerha Hendrickson told his team after wards before shaking each player's hand.

Pac West fought to the end, but a shortage of starting pitchers finally factored into the result.

"We had to start our third regular pitcher and just did not have enough pitching at the end," Hendrickson explained. "We started out the season with individual players, and they became a team that did things together as a team. Everyone improved and everyone contributed."

Trailing 15-7 in the bottom of the sixth, Pac West staged a last ditch rally.

Jeremiah Judd opened the at bat by reaching second base on an infield miscue and throwing error. One infield pop fly out later Trevor Crowe was hit by a pitch. Alex Lucero then singled to load the bases.

Following a strike out, left handed hitting Noah Lansing was hit by a pitch to force home one runner. Up came Gustavo Faleyo to hammer a two out, three-run double that drew the White Sox within four runs. At that point, Pac West's gallant effort ended with a strike out.

Renton started quickly in the first inning with three runs on three hits and two walks. Unfazed by its opponent's three-spot, Pac West fired back in the home half of the inning. Jaden Hendrickson led off with a base on balls ahead of Jordan Aycox's sharply hit single to right field. Left handed hitting Trenton Brown shot an opposite field single to left field, loading the bases.

Judd's infield single deep in the hole to shortstop posted a PW tally before Marin's walk forced home another run. Trevor Crowe's ground out to pitcher produced a third run, while Lucero's ground out to shortstop sent the White Sox into a 4-3 lead.

Both teams showed stretches of good defense and in the second inning neither was able to score. Among a throng of fine defensive players, Pac West catcher Misa Marin showed his skill in chasing down loose balls as well as throwing out or threatening runners with his strong arm.

"I focus by thinking about Happy Land, somewhere that is peaceful," he related.

In the top of the third, Renton Little League produce two runs for a short-lived 5-4 advantage. in the bottom of the inning, Brown's triple followed by Judd's RBI single with two out deadlocked the game at 5-5.

By the fourth inning, a shortage of front line pitching from Pac West took strong effect. Six walks and two hit batters pushed the Storm into an 8-5 lead. Relief pitcher Lucero, who had not pitched all season, was called to the mound. Lucero responded by throwing change of pace pitches for two consecutive strikeouts to weather the Storm.

Lucero added a one-hit scoreless mound effort in the fifth before finally tiring in the sixth in his valiant effort to keep the White Sox in contention.

"I pitched last year, but not during this season," Lucero said. "When I pitch, I don't just try to get the ball over the plate. I focus on getting it into the catcher's mitt."

Pac West's White Sox staged a two-out, lightning rally in the fifth inning to draw close. Devin Graves walked on five pitches, giving Hendrickson the opportunity to drive home a run on a deep double to left center field. Aycox delivered in the clutch with a run-scoring triple just inside the left field line as the White Sox closed within 8-7.

Renton created a strong sixth inning before holding off Pac West's last rally.

"We worked really hard and everyone improved," said Hendrickson. "We did our best, ever."

This game was played with rules stating that all innings except the last inning would have a five run limit for each team's at bat. The last inning would be completely open until three outs per team were recorded.

Players for the TOC runner up Pac West White Sox are Jaden Hendrickson, Jordan Aycox, Trenton Brown, Jeremiah Judd, Misa Marin, Trevor Crowe, Alex Lucero, Jaden Macias, Noah Lansing, Gustavo Paleyo and Devin Graves.

Assisting manager Jerha Hendrickson are coaches Steve Crowe, Cliff Moa and Jeff Macias.