The Triple A Athletics continued the Los Banos Little League playoff theme of “anybody can beat anybody” with Wednesday’s 5-4 victory over the top-seeded Nationals.
So far, only one division has seen the top seed make it through the winners bracket unscathed – the Tigers of Single A defeated the fifth-seeded A’s on May 30 and the third-seeded Pirates on June 3. The Tigers face the winner of Thursday’s 6-8-year-old elimination game between the Pirates and the No. 2 Giants in the championship on Saturday.
But in the other three playoff divisions, wins have been hard to come by. In the 9-11-year-old Triple A game on Wednesday, the Nationals held a 4-3 lead after scoring two in the top of the fourth inning. Will Montemurro had walked and moved around the bases on three passed balls, and Orlando Lara scored from second base on an infield groundout.
But the A’s tied the game when Prentz McCloud doubled and scored on a Christopher Fabian single.
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“You know what, it’s not really nerve-racking for me, but it’s nerve-racking for the kids,” A’s manager Rodd Welch said. “It’s fun to see the excitement in them when they play like that. The biggest thing is as long as we can catch the ball and throw the ball, we can play with any team in this level right here.”
The Athletics’ defense held the Nationals scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings, getting out of jams both times with runners on second and third. A groundout ended the threat in the fifth, and a strikeout ended it in the sixth.
Kayson Welch scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth, scoring from first on a Mileke Williams double to center field.
“It was kind of personal, because me and Paul (Montemurra, Nationals manager) are really good friends,” Rodd Welch said. “And it’s always good to knock off the number one seed, because it builds confidence in the kids that they can beat any team. If they can beat the number one seed team, any team is beatable.”
The A’s faced another elimination game on Thursday against the Tigers, with the winner heading to face the No. 5 Dodgers in the championship. Results were unavailable at press time.
“They’re not really stressed, they’re just excited they get to play another game,” Welch said. “My thing was before the game started, if we win this game, we play another one. We win that one, we play another one.”
In the 10-12-year-old Majors division, the third-seeded Nationals emerged on top of the winners bracket, with the No. 1 Indians and No. 4 A’s fighting in the elimination bracket on Thursday for the chance to face them in the championship.
In Double A, the No. 1 Yankees and No. 2 Cardinals will face each other in the championship on Saturday. The Cardinals defeated the Yankees 2-1 on June 3, sending them to the elimination bracket. But the Yankees fought back, defeating the No. 6 Giants 9-8.