Volunteers hope to regain swagger in Yountville

Open state Legion tourney Saturday

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comJuly 27, 2013 

The Merced Volunteers are hoping what happened in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas.

The Volunteers played their best baseball of the summer in Las Vegas two weeks ago, going 5-1 in a tournament. Merced hopes to take the momentum from that tournament into the American Legion State Tournament on Saturday in Yountville.

The Volunteers will open the tournament against the Petaluma Leghorns at 3 p.m. Merced enters the tournament with a 12-21 record, but most of the losses have come against collegiate teams.

"I think the group of kids we're left with, if they believe in themselves, it's possible we can go to Yountville and put on a good show," Merced coach Rollo Adams said. "We haven't played as well the last four games since coming back from Vegas. Hopefully we can get our mojo back."

The Volunteers will make the trip to Yountville with only 12 players after they found out six of their players are ineligible to play in the postseason because of a new rule that only allows first-year collegiate players to play American Legion baseball if they played on the same legion team the previous year.

Adams was informed of the rule after returning from the Las Vegas tournament.

"It was a shock," he said. "Over the years I've been pretty consistent making sure of the rules in place. This was a new rule they put in. It's going to limit the moves I can make."

The Volunteers won't have the depth in pitching they've had all summer, which makes it important for the starters in Yountville to go deep in games.

The Volunteers likely will start Le Grand's Carlo Del Real, Dos Palos' Efrain Del Rio or Merced's Mitchell Miller on the mound against the Leghorns.

Petaluma, which won the Area 1 championship last weekend to qualify for the state tournament, defeated the Volunteers 7-3 on July 5 in a Fairfield tournament.

"I think playing them before will help us to a degree, but it will help them, too," Adams said. "They have some kids who can swing the bat well, but I don't think our kids will be intimidated.

"I did make our kids aware that Petaluma isn't going to quit if they get down. They came back against us and they came back to beat Yolo, which was the best team in Northern California based on their record, twice to win their area championship."

Vista Murrietta will open the double-elimination tournament against Long Beach at 9 a.m. San Mateo will face the host team Napa at noon.

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