Less than a week after limping off the mound in Westside’s previous victory on Monday, starting pitcher Jayce Dobie returned to the mound once again to stymie Briarwood batters. Dobie induced two double-play grounders en route to helping Westside advance to the District 44 All Star championship with a 13-3 victory.
“[Dobie] went to some guy up in Orinda and I get a text from his dad saying, ‘hey, he’s ready to go’ and I’m like, ‘no he’s not, he’s not ready to go,’ and he’s all, ‘no, I just threw with him, just hit with him’” noted Head Coach Jeremy Advincula. “This guy did some sort of release of the muscle, some Mr. Miyagi stuff and he was healthy and ready to go.”
Dobie’s quick healing helped set the tone, while second and third inning home runs by Kailan Chao and Nate Escalada basically put the game away. Chao’s second inning grand slam increased the lead from 2-0, to 6-0.
“It was a 1-2 count, I was seeing a lot of sliders,” recalled Chao on his grand slam. “I adjusted after a foul ball and scooted up in the box. Got up in the box and did my job.”
Chao’s “job” has indeed been to drive in runs and he’s done it all year long, for both the Giants during the season and now for the 11-12 All Stars. Westside’s catcher, Escalada, deposited one over the wall in left-center to push a 7-0 lead to 10-0.
“It was a two-strike count and I was trying to just find the right pitch to hit hard,” admitted Escalada. “When I hit it, it felt so good I started jogging to first base, but then I remembered all my hits that went off the fence so I started sprinting. When it finally went over and I saw the umpires waving their fingers, I just held my head. So crazy that it happened.”
“I would say one through 14 has the ability to leave the park,” remarked coach Advincula on his ninth-place hitter hitting a homer. “It’s not normal for a team to have that. Usually you only have to worry about five of six hitters in the lineup in Little League. Anyone we pull off the bench can go deep. We’re pretty spoiled in that regard.”
Unfortunately for Briarwood’s 12-year-olds, it was their final Little League game. Despite the lopsided score, there were some final highlights for fans to cheer about. In the final inning, AJ Meneses blasted a two-run home run to pull the team within 10 runs. At that point, Briarwood only needed one more run to keep the game going into the fifth inning. Furthermore, shortstop Alan Ramirez made a leaping catch on a throw from catcher and cousin Noel Ramirez before applying the tag on a runner trying to steal second base.
“I jumped really high and fell right in between the runners legs sliding into second,” described Ramirez. “I tagged him on the body and kind of hurt my glove hand, but I feel fine now.”
It was an amazing play on both ends. Noel scooped the pitch out of the dirt, while Alan made the leaping catch and tag. Hard-working efforts like these is just one of the many reasons Briarwood Head Coach Emmit Palacios was extremely appreciative of his players.
“Overall, best seven years of my life. We can even go back to when these guys were farm and t-ball. My son [Andrew Palcios] being a part of it and Briarwood opening up their arms to us. Today was the final game, but we went out fighting. The message afterward to our kids was more of a thank you for what they did for us as coaches and for the parents. They played awesome. That Moreland game and that Metro game were two of the most exciting games I’ve ever been a part of in baseball.”
Palacios noted that he will be rooting on Westside to continue in the All Star tournament. Westside and Briarwood may be a cross-town rivalry, but it’s a friendly rivalry at that.