After a thrilling run through the District 44 tournament, the Sunnyvale 12U All Stars saw their season end in the Section 5 Tournament after just two games. However, Thursday’s Section-5 opener that pitted Sunnyvale against perennially tough Aptos could have easily swung the other way. Just a couple of different bounces would have started Sunnyvale off in the winner’s bracket for the second-straight tournament. Trailing Aptos 2-0 after the second inning, Sunnyvale started out on the comeback trail.
Catcher William Hsu kicked off a two-out rally in the top of third with a solid single up the middle. Luke Canabou followed up by drawing his second walk off the game. Cleanup hitter Alex Venables came up with runners at first and second and his grounder to shortstop was bobbled. Hsu would end up in a run down between third and home on the play, but managed to slide back in safely at third to keep the inning alive. Ethan Tang was next and hit a ground ball to shortstop that was bobbled again and everyone was safe with Hsu scoring to cut the deficit to 2-1.
In the bottom of the third Canabou delivered a shut-down inning on the mound to keep the momentum in the Sunnyvale dugout and the deficit at just one run. Not only was it a shut-down inning, it was a three-up, three-down inning, with Canabou striking out the final two batters.
With the momentum now firmly in their dugout, Sunnyvale’s key players came through like key players have to do in order to win big games. A pair of walks by Lucas Gandara and Levi Owara set the table for leadoff man William Tai. With runners at first and second and just one out, Tai smoked a line-drive triple into the right-center-field gap, putting Sunnyvale in the lead at 3-2. William Hsu immediately followed suit with a double into the same exact gap, to extend the lead to 4-2.
For the second-straight inning, Canabou would deliver a shut-down inning. This time around Aptos ended up with runners at second and third with just one out in the bottom of the fourth, but a pair of strikeouts and a ground ball to shortstop ended the inning with the 4-2 lead still intact.
After a scoreless top of the fifth, Aptos started a comeback of their own. With Sunnyvale Manager Albert Tang electing to take Canabou off the mound due to his pitch count, Aptos took advantage. A couple of errors in the infield and a pair of walks helped Aptos tie the game and then take the lead. With the score 6-4 Aptos, Damon Uyehara came into pitch and did so beautifully. Inheriting the bases loaded and nobody out, Uyehara induced his first batter into a 6-3 double play. A run scored on the play and eventually Aptos would squeeze home one last run, but Uyehara did an excellent job limiting the damage.
Singles by Hsu and Tang in the top of the sixth, along with the third walk of the game by Canabou would help Sunnyvale pull back within two at 8-6, but that would be all she wrote.