If you’re a fan of strikeouts, June 20’s opener of the 11-12-year-old All Stars tournament for District 44 was a can’t miss game. Santa Clara Westside pitchers Austin Sands and Ty Yoshida combined for 13 strikeouts in six innings. On the flip side, Sunnyvale Serra starting pitcher Brandon Yoon also racked up 10 strikeouts in this epic pitcher’s duel. Westside scratched across the only run of the game in the fourth inning. Yoshida then shut the door in the top of the sixth with three straight strikeouts, securing a 1-0 victory for the home squad.
“We knew coming in that we have a bullseye on our chest. Last year’s team was successful, won the district and was in the championship game for the sections” noted Westside Manager Jerry Vignato. “So we knew going into this that we were going to face everybody’s No. 1 pitcher. Their guy came out and threw really well. He threw hard and was getting us to chase. It was a gem pitched on both sides today. For us, Austin held them down early and Ty shut them down late.”
Sands went four innings for Westside before giving way to Yoshida who struck out six of the eight batters he faced in the final two innings. Sunnyvale got their leadoff runner on in both the fifth and the sixth but Yoshida proceeded to strikeout the side both times.
“I was kind of stressed out because I knew it was the end of the game and I had to clutch up because we were only up by one run,” remarked Yoshida. “I tried to keep calm in my head and just keep throwing strikes.”
“I felt great on the mound today,” chimed Sands on his four innings. “I knew after the first couple innings that I would be able to keep attacking the zone. Was trying to keep my pitch count down and was able to do just that.”
Sands’ performance on the mound allowed time for the offense to finally come through in the fourth. Sam Sylvia led off the inning with a bunt single and then moved to second on a pinch hit single by Sal Espinosa. The following batter JT Mlnarik moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt and then catcher Jake Martindrove in Sylvia with a sacrifice fly on a line drive to the center fielder.
“I wasn’t really trying to get a hit,” admitted Martin. “I was just trying to put it in play since we had two of our faster runners on base.”
“Their guy was throwing well, we figured if we put the ball in play and make them make plays we would be successful and that’s when we went to the bunts,” added Vignato. “We got two or three bunts down and then a clutch sacrifice fly.”
After the win over Sunnyvale, Westside fell 5-2 to Briarwood on Saturday, but bounced back with a 17-10 victory on Monday. They will close out their four-game pool play Saturday, June 30.