It was an eerily cool and breezy summer night in the far northern reaches of California on Tuesday evening. Interstate 5 has been a well worn path of anxious families and fans to the teams playing in this talent rich youth baseball tournament, although most of the teams young ballplayers are lodging in Redding for the week. Tonight marked the culmination of a long weekend of baseball for the sturdiest teams playing through the winners bracket – Pleasanton and Rocklin.
After five days of sharing the beautiful confines of the Redding Oxford Suites (a fine stop for those traveling through Northern California to the annual Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon) these two titans of Northern California youth baseball were able to square off in the baseball equivalent of a UFC cage-match at Foothill High School outside of Redding.
The Pleasanton team started quickly with Jimmy Kaufman dominating the first inning, shutting down the Rocklin hitters with his poison filled darts of pitches, while whipping a fierce double to score Mitch Benson to take a 1-0 lead after the first inning.
The starting pitching for both teams cruised through the second, but it was the Rocklin pitcher that blinked in the third inning, giving up a sharp hit to center to Justin Lavell, and walked two to load the bases. A confident Nate Lau stepped into the batters box next, and after getting down in the count 1-2, found some open greenery for the baseball in right field. The right fielder made a valiant diving effort for the sinking liner, but after the dust settled, Lau was standing on third base and the boys from Ptown had a 4-0 lead. Insurance came shortly after, as another walk, a failed pick-off attempt, and two errors, led to two more runs and a 6-0 lead after three innings complete.
That would be all the boys from Pleasanton would need, as Jimmy Kaufman pitched a complete game, and the Ptown Blue crew held on for a stirring 6-4 win over the game team from Rocklin.
Their next game will be Thursday, with the winners of Wednesday night’s consolation game needing to beat Pleasanton twice on Thursday to claim the Northern California crown. A tall order for any team against the gritty Pleasanton boys. The stands should be packed for Thursday’s finals, so get there early to secure good seats. There’s free hot dogs and Coach Lander bobble head to the first 5 fans who mention this article at the snack shack.