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Sunnyvale Wins With Wild Finish to Advance to Championship

Monday afternoon at Union Little League in San Jose was the setting for one of the most dramatic Little League games one will ever see. The contest featured Sunnyvale taking on Hollister in a win-or-go-home game. Elite pitching, timely hitting, errors, defensive gems and a player ejection made for epic theater. 

As the designated home team, Sunnyvale took the field first, with starting pitcher Connor Donohue throwing lights out. The majority of Hollister’s batters could not keep up with Donohue’s fastball. 

Behind the hard throwing right hander, Sunnyvale held Hollister scoreless in the top of the first. In its first inning of offense, Sunnyvale would get on the board twice. Despite facing a similarly hard throwing righty, leadoff man Tyler Owen sat back nicely on a breaking ball and smashed a line drive single to left-center field. Two batters later Donohue singled through the 5.5 hole and when the ball skipped under the glove of the left fielder, Owen had the speed to come all the way around to score. 

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Isaiah Cho followed Donohue by launching a medium-deep fly ball to right field that the Hollister right fielder was unable to catch and Donohue would score from third to put Sunnyvale up 2-0. 

Hollister answered right back in the top of the second, though, in part due to a couple of errors, the second of which was on a ball that skipped past left fielder Everett Tung. However, the Sunnyvale outfielder would more than make up for his mistake in the later innings. 

After Hollister tied things up 2-2 in the fourth inning, the visitors were set up to take a lead in the fifth. Hollister had runners at second and third with only one out, but that’s when the Sunnyvale defense clutched up big time. A ground ball to Jomo Albrecht at third base led to Sunnyvale cutting down the go-ahead run at home plate with a relatively easy tag out by the catcher Owen for the second out. The third and final out, though, would not nearly be as easy of a tag for the Sunnyvale backstop. 

With two outs and a runner at second, Albrecht had just gotten on the mound due to pitch count rules requiring Donohue to come out of the game. The first batter Albrecht faced would hit a ground ball through the left side into left field. Hollister would send the runner home trying to score the go-ahead run. Tung fielded the ball cleanly and rifled a throw on the money without a bounce right to Owen’s glove, well ahead of the runner. That’s when the Hollister runner illegally barreled into Owen head first with a shoulder hit to the chest. Owen held onto the ball, the inning was over and the runner was immediately ejected by the home plate umpire. 

The game would remain tied at two heading into the bottom of the sixth. Sunnyvale managed to load the bases on the strength of a scorching double by Jonah Owara. Ava Oriegel and Lucas Freeland worked walks and with two outs Jaden Chen came up with the bases still loaded. Chen put the ball in play slowly towards the second baseman and after a bobble, everybody was safe and the Sunnyvale All Stars were walk-off winners, 3-2. 

Unfortunately for Sunnyvale fans, their 12U squad would come up short the next evening, losing 4-2 to Capitola-Soquel, ending the team’s season. 

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1 Comment
  1. Kristen Owen 11 months ago
    Reply

    Thank you for covering this spectacular and exciting game! The Sunnyvale kids worked hard all season and certainly deserve the recognition you have given them.

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