Westside Little League earned bragging rights for Santa Clara supremacy on Wednesday. The 12U All Stars defeated crosstown rival Briarwood by an 8-2 final in the winner-moves-on, loser-goes-home, elimination game of the District 44 tournament.
Alec Howell got things started right away for Westside with a leadoff walk at the top of the first. Lucas Micun followed up and reached on a bloop right behind shortstop that should have been caught, but poor communication by the Briarwood defense allowed it to fall.
Three hitter Jack Maldonado would fly out to center field and while Howell was not trying to advance to third, the throw to third went high over the third baseman’s head allowing Howell to move up 60 feet.
A couple of pitches later, Micun had advanced to second, setting up cleanup hitter Josh Capps with two runners in scoring position. Capps worked a count to his advantage before drilling a pitch down the left-field line for a two-RBI double.
After a scoreless bottom half of the first, Westside would add to its lead in the second. Julian Ramirez led off the inning with a walk and would later score on a line drive single by Carter Nabhan. Now up 3-0, with runners on second and third, Miles Flora nearly broke the game open with a double to right field by Briarwood outfielder AJ Chavez.
The web gem from Chavez allowed Briarwood to hang in there and nearly tie the game. Briarwood would get on the board in the third. A solid leadoff single by Micah Stewart got things going and then a couple errors allowed Stewart to come around to score.
Briarwood inched closer in the bottom of the fourth. Ian Denny reached on an overthrow to lead things off and wound up on third base after a single by Jaxson Murillo. Denny would score from third when Murillo got caught in a pickle between first and second. Westside would tag out Murillo as Denny crossed home plate to make the score 3-2.
At this point though, Maldonado, one of Westside’s top aces had come in to pitch. Maldonado struck out one of Briarwood’s best hitters in Julian Cuevas, and then punched out Victor Hernandez to end the inning.
“Westside has been our rivals for years; they always have lots of talent,” admitted Cuevas after the game. “Their pitching was pretty darn good today. Jack Maldonado threw hard.”
In the fifth inning, Westside got their insurance runs back, the first of which coming on an RBI single from Micun. A few unfortunate errors in the fifth and sixth innings by Briarwood allowed Westside to increase its lead. A sacrifice fly from Nabhan and an RBI single from Teddy Morgan rounded out the scoring in this one.
“Strikeout” replied Maldonado when asked what his mindset was coming into pitch in a tight situation. “I felt confident,” added the young right hander when asked if all his pitches were working for him.
Unfortunately for Westside fans, their 12U squad would be eliminated the next day, falling to Campbell by a score of 11-1.
Sunnyvale Little League would eventually beat Campbell to win the District 44 Championship and advance to Section 5.