Not even Hollywood would have been able to script the real-life excitement at Santa Clara Briarwood Little League on Saturday. The 11-12 year-old Briarwood All Stars’ mind-boggling, 11-9 comeback victory over Sunnyvale Metro was better than any Hollywood production. It was unscripted baseball at its finest and purest.
Despite blowing a 4-0 lead and witnessing Sunnyvale’s shortstop make some Brandon Crawford-esque amazing catches, Briarwood stormed back from a 9-4 hole. The Santa Clara squad pounded out four home runs over the final two innings. Alan Ramirez and Ozzy Cadena went back-to-back in the fifth while AJ Meneses hit a two-run shot to tie the score in the sixth. Two batters later, Justin Aldor crushed a two-run walk-off homer to end the game, sending the Briarwood crowd into a frenzy.
“Our batters have been there before with Briarwood championship games,” commented Briarwood Head Coach Emmit Palacios. “In the major championship game, these guys were trading home runs. It prepared them for these kinds of situations. We definitely have some firepower. As long as there are still outs on the scoreboard, we still have a fighting chance.”
Perhaps the most surprising source of all the home runs was the hero of the game. Aldor’s walk off homer was just his third on the season. Typically more of a gap-to-gap hitter, Aldor got a hold of one when it counted the most.
“I got a middle-in fastball,” noted Aldor on the walk-off. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a home run, but then I saw it go over.”
Not to be lost amidst all the home runs was the impressive contributions on both sides by Briarwood starting pitcher Sean Rescate. Ensuring that he could pitch again on Monday, Rescate was lifted after just 2 and 1/3 innings, but he left the game allowing no runs with just one runner on base in the third inning. Rescatealso shined at the dish, going 4-4 at the plate. He drove in two runs and was on base as the potential winning-run when Aldor hit the walk-off bomb.
“I felt pretty good, mixing pitches, fastball and curveball,” recalled Rescate on his pitching efforts before talking about his hitting. “I think the first at bat I hit a pop up, so I got really mad at myself. I decided to do better and make it work for the next three at bats.”
“It was an A-plus performance,” commented Palacios on Rescate’s play. “He threw 35 good pitches for us and we pulled him so he’s eligible to pitch on Monday. His bat has been consistent all year long. He’s been solid, probably like a .700 hitter.”
The do-or-die victory advanced Briarwood now to the final-four, double-elimination tournament to decide the All Star champions for District-44. On Monday they opened said tournament against rival Westside. You can read more about that game in the article below.