After dropping their opening game of the 11-12 All Stars tournament, Santa Clara Briarwood bounced back with authority against Mountain View on Saturday. Briarwood was literally led by their leadoff hitter, Jaden Baddo, who started off his day going three-for-three at the plate. Baddo’s three-run homer in the second inning was the biggest blow of the game, as it increased Santa Clara’s lead to 7-2 in what was an eventual 13-3, five-inning victory. Baddo is the youngest of three boys in his family, the older two of whom, Jairus and Devin, played under coach Currie for Wilcox this past school year.
“I was just looking for a nice base hit, nothing much,” noted the youngest Baddo on his home run before crediting his older brothers. “They teach me how to get more power in my swing and stay down through the ball.”
“Baddo is as good as it gets as a leadoff hitter,” noted Head Coach Emmit Palacios with a huge grin. “He’s a smart hitter and he has power behind him. People sometimes underestimate him because he’s not a big guy, but he has pop.”
Not only was Baddo terrific at the dish, but he also used the delayed steal to twice swipe an extra 60 feet on the basepaths.
“I can’t take full credit for that, to be honest with you,” remarked Palacios on the delayed steals. “Back in 2015 TOCs in the minors, [Wilcox coach] Paul Rosa introduced that. He actually taught that, and since then, I’ve been teaching it and the other coaches from Briarwood have been teaching that. I think we do it more than anyone else.”
Along with Baddo’s big day, other notable Briarwood performers included Ozzy Cadena who battled through a long 10-pitch at bat in the first inning before blasting a two-run homer of his own. In an absolutely awesome gesture of sportsmanship, Mountain View pitcher John Lester even gave Cadena a high-five shortly after rounding third base. Cadena also started on the mound for Briarwood and battled through 2 and 2/3 innings. After giving up a leadoff home run to begin the game, Cadena settled down and held Mountain View to just two runs before handing the ball off to Frankie Tagaoi to finish the game.
“When he keeps his head still, he hits it either hard [and]/or it’s going to go out of the ballpark,” added Palacios on Cadena’s power before switching topics to his pitchers. “One thing about Frankie is he throws strikes. He has a live arm, but he comes in and throws strikes–that’s Frankie all year long.”
While the game was never in doubt after Baddo’s home run, Saturday’s contest did end with a rather exciting double play. In the bottom of the fifth, Mountain View was threatening to cut the lead down to nine. With a runner at third and only one out, a ground ball was hit to third baseman Elias Velo. After smothering a tricky hop, Velo made the throw to first baseman Nic McCollough. At this point, the runner at third took off to try and score, but McCollough made a strong throw home, where catcher Devin Floriani applied the tag in time to end the game.
Even though Mountain View still needed a miracle to comeback and win had said double play not been made, it was nonetheless a valuable end to the game for Briarwood. With pitch count rules in Little League, it can actually be significantly advantageous for teams to win via the 10-run mercy rule. Little League games usually go six innings, but can be cut short to four or five innings when the score is out of hand. The final outs saved Tagaoi from throwing another 15-20 pitches.
Briarwood is now guaranteed at least two more games in the tournament next week.