The Merced Volunteers offense exploded for 57 runs in the final five games of the Danny Hughes Memorial Tournament, winning all five to go 5-1 and win the championship last weekend at Durango High School in Las Vegas.
The Volunteers (22-11) scored five runs in the seventh inning to break a 9-9 tie as they went on to defeat the Tesoro Titans in the final game of the tournament Sunday. Tesoro went into the game with a 5-0 record in the tournament.
Lawrence Anderson hit a two-run triple in the seventh to give Merced an 11-9 lead, and Christian Witt followed with a two-run homer to extend the lead to 13-9. Tanner Pellissier doubled and scored on a passed ball to increase the lead to 14-9.
“We were patient at the plate. A lot of our hitters weren’t going up and swinging at the first pitch,” Merced coach Rollo Adams said. “I saw the confidence in our players grow as the tournament went on.”
The Volunteers opened with an 8-3 loss to San Clemente on Thursday.
Merced answered with two wins Friday, defeating Burk Brunett of Texas 7-5 and then squeaking past the Southern Nevada Bulls 11-10.
Witt caught fire in the tournament. The Buhach Colony High School outfielder went 3 for 4 in the win over Burk Brunett and 4 for 4 with three doubles, a home run and seven RBIs against Southern Nevada.
Witt finished the tournament 14 for 20 in five games with eight runs, 14 RBIs, seven doubles and two home runs.
“At one point, Christian Witt hit six doubles in a row and had 10 consecutive hits,” Adams said. “These were balls hit into left-center and right-center, balls that were hit in the gaps. He drilled them. They were line drives.
“The home run he hit against Southern Nevada came after they brought in their No. 1 guy. He was throwing close to 91-92 mph. He turned his fastball around on a 2-1 pitch and hit it over the big wall in right field that has the retired number of Ryan Ludwick,” Adams said of the Durango graduate, former UNLV star and Oakland A’s second-round draft choice in 1999.
Anderson went 3 for 4 and Pellissier and Kobe Nguyen each had two hits in the win over Burk Burnett. Pellissier and Clayton Hall each had two hits with Pellissier driving in two runs against Southern Nevada.
The Volunteers picked up two more wins Saturday, 11-4 over Greeley, Colo., and 14-9 over host Durango Post 76.
Witt again went 4 for 4 with three doubles and two RBIs against Greeley. Pellissier had two hits, including a double, and two RBIs. Josh May hit a two-run homer, and Nguyen and Brent Brewer each had two hits. Austin Hickman pitched six innings to pick up the win.
In Saturday’s nightcap, Josh Penrod went 4 for 4 and Jacob Alarcon had two hits and two RBIs. The Volunteers were tied 8-8 with Durango in the seventh inning when Merced broke open the game with five runs.
The big blows were a three-run double by Clayton Hall (2 for 3) and a solo homer by Evan Hanneman. Anderson, Pellissier and Wyatt McCleskey all had two hits.
“We made some mistakes defensively,” Adams sad. “We could have scored more runs. We left a ton of runners on base, which allowed teams to stay in the games against us. That’s why some of the scores were as close as they were.”
In the win over the Tesoro Titans, Anderson, Witt, Hanneman and May each had three hits with Anderson and Witt driving in three runs apiece. Brent Brewer had a two-run double and Pellissier picked up two hits.
Anderson finished the tournament 11 for 22 with 11 runs and four RBIs as the Volunteers’ leadoff hitter. Pellissier went 11 for 23 with four doubles and six RBIs, and May finished 7 for 14 with eight runs.
The Volunteers will be at home Tuesday and Wednesday night against the Valley Bears at Merced College. Both games will start at 7 p.m.