It will be the Giants and the Dodgers facing off in the Westside Little League Major Championship starting Thursday, June 7. The winner will earn the right to represent Westside in the Tournament of Champions that begins next week. The Giants advanced to the Championship on Tuesday night by knocking off the A’s, 6-4, in a must-win semifinal. In the double elimination tournament, the Giants already have one loss, and will have to beat the Dodgers twice in a row to take home all the marbles.
Tuesday’s victory for the Giants saw starting pitcher Clemente Beltran deliver on both sides. Beltran held the A’s to just two runs over four innings on the mound and his opposite-field, RBI double off the right-field fence in the third inning gave the Giants a 3-2 lead. The extra-base knock scored Giants’ middle infielder JT Mlnarik who was their offensive catalyst all game long going three for three.
“Clemente was composed and in the face of adversity he rose up,” remarked Giants Manager Joey Gonzalez. “He stuck to the game plan, eliminated the noise and focused on his catcher. I only needed two innings out of him and he gave me four.”
“I was just out there not really thinking too much, trying to throw strikes,” said Clemente on his game plan. “If they hit it, they hit it, just try to focus on the next pitch.”
Clemente’s counterpart on the mound for the A’s also pitched a tremendous game. Unfortunately for Austin Sands, errors behind him didn’t help his cause. Nonetheless, the 12-year-old did an impressive job staying composed and keeping his team in the game.
“A lot of kids could definitely lose their composure in that situation and let it get in their head, but he got back on the mound and threw strikes,” remarked A’s Assistant Coach Curtis Allmon. “He didn’t walk anybody.”
“I felt good on the mound for sure. Just struggled at a couple moments,” acknowledged Sands on his pitching performance. “We had a couple of errors in the field, but, overall, I thought we played a pretty good game and it just didn’t go our way.”
Sands mirrored Clemente both at the plate as well as on the mound. The A’s pitcher picked up his own RBI double in the second inning that tied the score at 2-2. Unfortunately for the A’s, they ran into some bad luck on the bases. Leadoff hitter Ryan Hauck crushed a double to the right-field fence in the second, but the two runners ahead of him each ended up near third base at the same time. In the confusion, the Giants tagged out both for a double play.
“We just couldn’t find our way in this game, we all got hits but it just ended up not going our way,” remarked Hauck on the loss. “Austin pitched great, but, unfortunately, the game got away from us.”
The A’s didn’t go down without a fight in this one. They would claw back from a 6-2 deficit in their final at bats in the sixth. Unfortunately, with the bases loaded and two outs, a hard hit ball towards shortstop ended up hitting the runner on his way to third for the final out.