The District 44 All Star tournaments are underway and the early signs are positive for Santa Clara Westside fans. It appears quite likely that all three Westside teams are bound to have a successful summer of baseball based on the impressive win by the 11U team on Tuesday.
The 11U team showed strong depth in all three areas in a 12-5 victory over Sunnyvale Metro. Offense, defense and pitching all shined at different points. When one takes into account that 12U teams and 10U teams get first pick of players during the summer tournament season, the fact Westside’s 11U squad has this much talent is an indicator that all three teams are likely to go on deep runs in their prospective tournaments.
Offensively speaking, basically the entire 11U team shined in the first inning on Tuesday. After falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first, Westside scored nine runs in the bottom half of the first inning. Leadoff man Jackson Park and No. 3 hitter Miles Flora led the way, each reaching base twice. Park walked in his first at bat and later doubled, while Flora notched a pair of singles. Owen Grace also worked a key walk and Raphael Hsu came up with an RBI single that gave Westside a 3-2 lead over Sunnyvale Metro; a lead they would never give up.
“The hitting was great. It was just amazing; everyone was in the dugout yelling ‘let’s go, let’s go,’” exclaimed a pumped up Hsu after the win. “It was just fantastic; a great game.”
It was also a great game from the other two facets of the sport. Pitching wise, Flora and Park each pitched a little over two innings, combining to cover the first five innings of work on the mound.
“I have a fastball, changeup and curve,” chimed Flora, who started on the bump and went two-and-one-third innings. “I didn’t throw the curve today, nor the changeup, just really relied on the fastball and pounded the zone, and used the inside and outside corners to my advantage.”
Westside definitely had an advantage in pitching, even their third pitcher of the game, Max Rubio, pitched a perfect one, two, three inning to end the game in the sixth. Helping out the three pitchers was some excellent defense behind them. Nolan Amaro in particular at second base and Julian Ramirez at shortstop shined with strong fielding on some hard hit balls.
“It’s really important to play good defense,” noted Park, who also had a nice play at shortstop while Flora was pitching. “What really helps us is that we practice a lot so that we’re not nervous during the game.”
“These kids play great defense and they work hard,” remarked 11U Manager Ryan Grace. “I’m not surprised [by how good they looked]. I always tell them everybody makes mistakes, it’s who gets over it and onto the next play and they take that to heart.”
The 11U squad now advances to start a four-team double-elimination tournament on Thursday.