The El Dorado Post 119 Junior Legion baseball season drew to a close Saturday night at El Dorado High’s John Escobar field as Grass Valley downed Post 119 twice for the championship, 4-3 and 9-5, in the double elimination District 7 Tournament.
At stake was advancement to this week’s Area Tournament in Chico.
The two losses came after El Dorado picked up a 5-3 win Friday night against Post 130, due in big part to Tim Hinrich’s 65-pitch complete game. Hinrichs threw all seven Friday night, fanning three and walking none en route to the victory.
Offensively, El Dorado’s bats had developed momentum but that changed Saturday as the tables turned and Post 119 found itself struggling to catch a break.
Mike Green started on the mound for El Dorado in the first game Saturday, going five innings and fanning three before being relieved by Tim Salemi in the sixth. Grass Valley picked up four runs on a combination of hits and errors and though El Dorado brought it to within one, Post 119 couldn’t overcome the deficit, forcing a second game.
El Dorado drew first blood in the second game. After Matt Smith, Ian Boyle and Matt Gould were walked to load the bases, Zach Bartelme’s infield grounder created an error to allow Smith to cross the plate.
Boyle started on the mound for El Dorado and struck out the leadoff hitter but an infield error, two doubles and a walk found Grass Valley with three runs after the first inning. Boyle was later relieved by Carlos Romero, who was replaced by John Creason.
El Dorado came up with three runs in the third. Boyle walked and after two fly-outs was moved around on Louis Merlo’s single before being brought home on Brian Smith’s RBI single to right. Bryson Campbell jumped on a pitch, drilling it into right center and plating Merlo and Troy Zeier to make it 4-3 El Dorado.
Grass Valley answered with a run in the bottom of the inning, but after Bartelme’s RBI double in the top of the fourth, Boyle got Grass Valley in order to end the inning.
El Dorado had two singles in the fifth, one by Campbell and one by Zack Culp, but couldn’t knock men in — a problem that plagued the team the rest of the game.
After two quick outs, Grass Valley’s Travis Hansen roped a two-out triple in the bottom of the fifth and scored on a passed ball to even the score. Grass Valley extended in the sixth with a bases-clearing triple and RBI single to add four runs to the scoreboard.
In the seventh, the Juniors went down on two strikeouts and a groundout to end their season.
“This has been a great group of kids,” El Dorado Coach Bret Robinson said. “They’ve worked hard for us all year long, and I’d coach these guys again, no doubt about it.
“I was really pleased with our approach at the plate today. We just were beat by a team that was the better ball team today. It would have been nice to see some more of those hits find places to fall, but that’s baseball and that’s the way it goes sometimes. But either way, I have no regrets and I don’t second guess anyone out there or any of our decisions. It would have been nice to get the win, but I’m still really proud of these kids and wouldn’t change a thing about the way they played today.”
Coach Kevin McPeters commented on the season as a whole, giving credit to the El Dorado players’ work ethic and willingness to be coached and desire to improve this year.
“This was a good group of kids we had this year,” McPeters said. “Every single one of them has improved, and they are better ballplayers now than they were when we first got them. Some of them have made huge improvements this year, they learned how to compete and play the game better, and I’m proud to have been able to coach them.”
Brandon Anicich can be contacted at email@example.com.
El Dorado 4, Grass Valley 1
By Mike Bush
Democrat staff writer
Creason’s no-hitter over last four innings of Thursday’s opener coupled with fine defensive plays and timely hitting carried Post 119 to a 4-1 victory over Auburn Post 84.
Creason struck out five of the last 12 batters he faced. In the seventh inning, Culp made a shoe-string catch in left field on the final out.
“I just wasn’t focused (in the first three innings),” said Creason who allowed five hits in the first three innings. “The defense was great.”
El Dorado assistant coach Chris Miller added, “We’ve been talking to the kids about (pitching and defense). We’ve had opportunities to score a lot of runs this year, but we’ve given up a lot, mostly because of errors and our pitcher’s pitch selection. He (Creason) did a great job today in finding the weakness in their hitters, going right at them and the defense backed him up.”
After Auburn scored its only run in the top of the first inning, El Dorado tied the game in the bottom of the frame. Culp, El Dorado’s leadoff hitter, singled and scored when Campbell singled.
Culp led off the bottom of the third inning with a single and scored on Matt Smith’s double to right-center. Post 119 scored its final two runs in the bottom of the sixth when Matt Smith and Boyle had back-to-back singles and scored on Zeier’s single to left field.
El Dorado finished with eight hits in the game.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.