Both Santa Clara Little Leagues in Briarwood and Westside advanced through the District 44 pool play and into the final four, double-elimination tournament. Briarwood found itself in the slightly larger pool of five teams, going 3-1 in pool play to finish second place in pool “B” behind first place Sunnyvale (4-0).
Westside, meanwhile, went 2-1 in its four team pool “A” and also finished in second place behind Campbell (3-0). That set up cross-pool matchups to open the elimination tournament. Second place Westside taking on Sunnyvale and Briarwood facing Campbell.
Both games took place on Monday, June 26. Briarwood’s matchup with Campbell saw the Santa Clara squad fall behind early in the top of the first by a 2-0 score. However, great defense prevented Briarwood from falling into an even deeper hole.
With runners on first and second and nobody out, AJ Chavez made a great leaping catch on a line drive that would have gotten off the wall on the fly had he not been able to catch it. The inning would end on a shallow pop fly into center field that saw Jaxson Murillo come racing in to catch on a full sprint and lunge forward to snag it.
Briarwood carried the momentum from Murillo’s impressive catch into a three-run first inning of its own. Ian Denny led off with an infield single to third base. Murillo then immediately doubled home Denny. After working a nine-pitch AB, Murillo laced a line-drive double into the gap in right-center field.
Julian Cuevas drew a walk to put two on with nobody out. Eventually both runners would move up 60 feet. With one out, Drake Tavares did his job by putting the ball in play and getting a hard grounder under the first baseman’s glove, to score Murillo and tie things back up at 2-2.
With runners at the corners and still only one out, Victor Hernandez also put the ball in play to the right side and his ground ball moved both runners up a base. Cuevas would come home to score and Tavares would move up to second. Just like that, Briarwood had a 3-2 lead.
Unfortunately for Briarwood fans, the team’s lead would be a short-lived advantage. Campbell came right back with a five-run second inning, going up 7-3 and never looking back. The final in this one would be 16-4.
In the second opening game of the elimination tournament, Westside nearly pulled off the upset over Sunnyvale. Westside pitching staff aces Alec Howell, Jack Maldonado and Josh Capps combined to hold an incredibly strong Sunnyvale lineup – a lineup that had scored a total of 53 runs in its four games of pool play – to just a mere two runs on just two hits in seven innings.
Westside’s offense though would manage to squeak just one run across, as it would lose its opening round game 2-1 in extra innings. Westside and Briarwood will now face each other in a loser-goes-home, winner-stays-alive matchup on Wednesday, June 28.