The Sunnyvale Junior All Stars have gone so deep into the Little League postseason schedule that their current opponents refer to them as not Sunnyvale but rather Northern California. After winning the Northern California tournament, the South Bay squad has continued their winning ways in the West Regionals in Bend, Oregon.
Sunnyvale opened the West Regionals tournament by walloping Utah 16-6. They followed that up with a thrilling walk-off victory over Southern California by a final of 9-8. Game three saw them win another blowout, 21-9 over Nevada. That set up a game against Hawaii on Tuesday, Aug. 9 for the right to advance to the West championship.
As of this writing, that game has yet to be completed because of multiple rain delays and different field locations. The game began at 10 a.m. and they didn’t finish playing for the day until 4:45 p.m. The game is currently in the seventh and final inning, with Hawaii leading 10-2.
If Sunnyvale can’t complete a miracle comeback, they will fall into the loser’s bracket. There, they will more than likely end up in a rematch with Southern California, a team whom Sunnyvale Head Coach Tom Daron referred to as the best in the tournament.
“My gut tells me that the best team I’ve seen here by far is Southern California. They have been crushing it in the loser’s bracket,” said Daron.
“They are really consistent throughout the lineup,” remarked Sunnyvale’s No. 3 hitter Will Hamburger on Southern California. “And they will maintain a steady pace throughout the whole game.”
As for the Hawaii game, the Sunnyvale Junior All Stars chalk it up to their own defensive mistakes that have cost them from being in a stronger position to win the game.
“Uncharacteristic mistakes on our part,” noted coach Daron on the 10-2 deficit against Hawaii. “We made fielding errors we usually never make.”
Sunnyvale starting pitcher Howard Cheng conceded just one earned run in his nearly six innings of work, but Hawaii added five unearned runs due to said errors.
“I thought it was a horrible representation of us,” added Hamburger. “We have to do better from now on if we want to go to Michigan.”
In order to advance to the World Series and represent the West Region in Taylor, Mich., Sunnyvale will have to dig deep. Not only will they likely have to beat Southern California Wednesday, but then they will have to beat Hawaii twice in a double header on Thursday.
If they are going to be able to quickly clean up their defense and score enough runs to win three in a row over these next two days, Hamburger is going to need to continue his hot hand at the plate. The catcher, pitcher and corner infielder drew high praise from his manager.
“I think he’s been the best player in the tournament,” praised Coach Daron on Hamburger. “He went five-for-five the other day, but the word is out now though, so everybody is pitching around him.”