The junior Little League All-Star team of Santa Clara Homestead saw its season come to an end last week after falling to Ferrasci Park on July 16 and Gilroy on July 18 in the California Section 5 All-Star Tournament at McKelvey Park in Mountain View.
Although Homestead was able to put together late-game, offensive rallies against their competitors, their efforts were simply not enough, losing to Ferrasci Park 11-8 and Gilroy 8-5.
Homestead took an early lead in the top of the first in Thursday’s game when an Elias Verduzco ground ball plated lead-off hitter Jordan Banholzer, who reached by way of a walk to start the game.
However, in the bottom of the inning, starting pitcher Icko Iben ran into trouble trying to fend off the Ferrasci offense. The top four batters would go on to score on three hits, a hit by pitch and an error, which made the score 4-1 after the inning.
After reaching base with a single to center, Banholzer, once again, crossed the plate in the third when a single by Ryan Oeschger resulted in a throwing error. Iben scored that inning on a Verduzco single. Ferrasci’s lead was cut to 4-3.
Ferrasci scored six unanswered runs over the next two innings. Ryan Hada replaced Iben on the bump in the third and would later be swapped out for Verduzco in the fourth. Homestead trailed by seven after the fourth.
After each team plated a run in the fifth, Homestead brought in two more in the sixth, cutting the deficit to five.
In the final inning, Homestead refused to go down quietly. Angelo Candel led the inning off with a double to the left-center gap. He, along with Hada who was hit by a pitch to reach base, went on to score on an Oeschger single. With the bases loaded, two outs and the tying run on first, Connor Valory hit a fly ball to the right fielder for the final out of the game. Homestead was put into the elimination bracket after the 11-8 loss
Both Homestead and the Gilroy All-Stars hoped to avoid elimination in their matchup on Saturday.
Iben took the mound for Homestead and ran into trouble early when the Gilroy offense took advantage of three walks. After retiring one batter, Iben was replaced by Hada. Although he was able to get the last two outs, the damage was already done and Homestead trailed by five after the first half inning. Similarly, Homestead’s offense was able to take advantage of Gilroy’s defensive flaws. In the bottom of the inning, the first three batters, Banholzer, Iben and Oeschger, reached base on a hit by pitch, walk and error, respectively. The first two scored on the error and the third scored on an infield single by Tony Rodriguez. The lead was cut to 5-3.
Both of the teams’ offenses remained quiet through the later innings of the game. Only two more runs would score against Homestead with the help of the stellar pitching performances by Hada and Iben, who went back on the bump in the fifth.
Homestead had plenty of scoring opportunities throughout the game. The pitchers from Gilroy issued a surprising 16 walks. However, Homestead was unable to capitalize on the mistakes, stranding a total of 16 runners on base. In four of the seven innings the final out was made with the bases loaded, which included the seventh and final inning.
Homestead’s season came to an end after the 8-5 loss.