After finishing 3-1 in pool play, the Santa Clara Briarwood 12U All Stars found themselves with a tough opening-round matchup in the double-elimination tournament for District 44. Having finished second in their bracket in Pool B, Briarwood would be matched up against the top seed from Pool A. That No. 1 seed would be none other than Moreland, who went undefeated in the round robin.
Despite the daunting matchup, Briarwood got out to a solid start in Tuesday’s elimination opener against Moreland. Briarwood starting pitcher Josh Porda managed to escape a first inning, bases-loaded jam. After a hit batter and a walk to start the inning, Porda managed to get Moreland’s best hitter to pop up to shallow left field.
After a swinging bunt loaded the bases, Porda induced a soft line out to second base and then a squibber in front of home plate saw Porda pounce and toss the ball to catcher Mason Stewart for the force out at home.
Briarwood carried that momentum from their Houdini act in the bottom of the first to take an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second. After two quick outs, it looked as if the game would remain scoreless going into the bottom of the second, but then No. 7 hitter Jackson Murrillo smoked a single up the middle against Moreland’s hard-throwing starter. Mike Castro then followed up by launching a double into right-center field to knock home Murrillo.
“I think it was supposed to be a curveball, but it didn’t curve much, so I just swung and it was going so I started running” recalled Castro on his double. “It was about belt high; I like those ones.”
“Mike is a very big hitter,” chimed Murrillo. “He gets a lot of hits for us and when he hits them, they all go really far. That one today almost hit the fence.”
The lead delivered by Castro would be a short-lived advantage. Moreland would come back to tie the game in the bottom half of the second. However, it was another Houdini-esque act from Porda and Briarwood to escape the inning allowing just the one run.
With the game tied again at one apiece, Moreland had their best hitter at the plate with runners on the corners and two outs. Moreland decided to try and sneak the back runner up to second base, but Stewart made a strong throw from behind the plate and shortstop Vaughn Sanchez applied the tag to a runner who didn’t even attempt to slide and Briarwood was out of the jam.
Unfortunately for Briarwood fans, things would unravel in the bottom of the third. An error, walk and single would load the bases. This time, Briarwood would be unable to escape the jam. A single up the middle drove home the go-ahead run and the next run was forced home by a hit by pitch. A bloop single knocked home a third run in the inning and just like that, Briarwood found themselves down 4-1.
A hard-hit double through the 5.5 hole by Theo Shipp and walks from Porda, Cruz Daily and Johnny Adame drew Briarwood back within 4-2, but that’s as close as they would get.
Moreland eventually added four more insurance runs to beat the Briarwood 12U All Stars by an 8-3 final.