For the fifth season in a row, the Briarwood Little League Major Pirates sailed deep into the Tournament of Champions. This year’s voyage saw them win games against Cupertino and Santa Clara Westside.
Unfortunately for Briarwood fans, that first-place treasure remained elusive for the fifth straight season. The Pirates got off to a great start, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but ended up losing to Sunnyvale by a 5-2 final. Some errors and unlucky bounces behind starting pitcher Sammy Martinez ended up paving the way for Sunnyvale’s victory. Otherwise, Martinez pitched a great game from start to finish. His catcher, Kai Imahara liked what he saw on the mound from his batterymate.
“He was really hitting his spots well,” said Imahara. “They were all falling for his curveball.”
Martinez was hitting said spots particularly well in the first inning when he only needed five pitches to retire the first three batters of the game. The Pirates followed that up by immediately getting on the board in the bottom of the first. Second place hitter Keisuke Fukunishi got things started with a hard chopper over the pitcher’s head for a single. Martinez followed up by smoking a single up the middle. A wild pitch saw Fukunishi thrown out trying to advance to third base for the second out of the inning, but Imahara’s line-drive single to right field would score Martinez from second. With the score 1-0 and Imahara on second, Matthew Ramirez hit a hard grounder that bounced perfectly between first and second and into right field, scoring Imahara.
“I got a fastball and I was a little late on it, but I managed to get it through that gap,” said Imahara on his RBI single to open the scoring. “So I was happy with that at bat.”
Pirates batters, however, were not so happy with the rest of their at bats after the first inning. The Sunnyvale Angels’ starting pitcher shut them down the rest of the game.
“He wasn’t throwing particularly fast,” said Imahara. “He was just hitting his spots.”
The Pirates had the heart of their order, the two, three, four hitters up in the sixth and final inning. Unlike the first inning though, they went three up, three down.
“We just didn’t execute the way we normally do,” said Pirates Head Coach Bryan Adame. “Sunnyvale is a great team, they played good baseball. It was a well-executed game plan by them, I have to give credit to their head coach, they played well.”
“We had some missteps on the field which did cost us a few runs,” continued Adame. “If we had made less errors, the game would have been much closer. That said, their pitcher was doing incredibly well. He was painting that outside corner. Overall it was a fun game to be involved in. Again, I have to tip my hat to Sunnyvale, they played really well.”