Monday afternoon’s tilt against Los Altos didn’t start out very pretty for the 11 and 12-year-old Santa Clara Westside All Stars. Santa Clara’s starting pitcher Jayce Dobie allowed three runs in his two innings; however, he also kept his team in the game by stranding the bases loaded in each of those two innings on the mound.
Offensively speaking, things didn’t start out much better for Westside. Los Altos starting pitcher Liam Kaushikkar looked every bit like the Little League version of New York Yankees star left-handed pitcher CC Sabathia. Westside’s lineup–featuring three lefties among their first four hitters (Jarren Advincula, Jessie Gutierrez and Logan Vieira)–looked overmatched on Kaushikkar’s breaking ball in the first inning. However, each one of Santa Clara’s lefties singled in their very next at bat, kick starting an eventual 7-5 comeback win.
“That’s what we preach, every pitch, every at bat is an adjustment,” commented Westside Head Coach Jeremy Advincula on the lefties at the top of his order. “Tip your cap to [Kaushikkar], he did a great job, had great control and could spot his pitches early, but thankfully we got to him later on in the game.”
The immediate adjustments made by Westside’s lefties paid off in a two-run rally to cut the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the third. In the very next half inning, Westside gave up a fourth run on a single, but the Jarren Advincula, normally a second baseman, playing center field, threw out the back runner at the plate.
“He threw it all the way home to nail the runner, that was a pretty good throw,” chimed coach Advincula. “For him playing second most of the year and then have to throw him out in the outfield, pretty amazing. That [extra run] could have been a momentum switch.”
Along with the younger Advincula, right fielder Eric Honer also came up with nice play in the outfield, despite having played primarily infield during the regular season. With Little League All Stars, pretty much every player is an infielder on their regular teams. It is not always easy for coaches to figure out which players to move to the outfield. However, coach Advincula applauds his team’s selflessness and appreciates their versatility.
“I’ve been blessed with 14 athletes,” noted the coach, “They will play anywhere when asked to play. I didn’t realize how spoiled I was with these guys. Not only their athletic ability, but their work ethic and they’re just great kids.”
Settling things down on the mound the final four innings was Westside left hander Ezekiel Chavez. With help from Advincula’s throw from center, Chavez allowed just the one run over his four innings on the mound.
“I think I did okay,” commented Chavez on his pitching performance. “But it’s a team effort, it was a team win. Defense behind me was pretty good.”
In the bottom of the fourth, Westside would keep the momentum squarely in their dugout with a huge inning of offense. Honer would get things started with a high chopper over the third baseman’s head into left field. Nate Escalada would follow with an infield single to shortstop, just beating the throw by a nose. With runners at the corners, Advincula would make the second out of the inning on a 4-3 put out, but knocked home Honer in the process, cutting the deficit to 4-3. The next batter, Kailan Chao drove a ball deep into the right-center field gap. The Los Altos outfielder nearly came up with a leaping catch, but the ball dropped and the tying run crossed the plate.
Up next would be pinch hitter Jordan Montez, who would work the count before lacing an opposite-field line drive just inside the first base line. The single would knock in two runs, giving Westside a 6-4 advantage.
“I think it was a 2-2 count and it had been like five or six pitches,” recalled Montez on his clutch at bat. “He threw me a fastball right down the middle and I just hit it right down the line.”
Santa Clara would add a key insurance run in the bottom of the fifth to go up 7-4. Los Altos battled back in their final ups, getting one run back in the top of the sixth, but Chavez would shut the door down with a strikeout to end the game.
Westside’s 11-12 team plays again on Wednesday and Saturday.