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The SF Junior All Stars' run came to an end on a warm Monday evening with an 11-2 loss to Benicia LL at Benicia's Fitzgerald Field. SF's offense was unable to capitalize on opportunities, stranding 13 men on base for the game. Meanwhile SF's defense also struggled, allowing the leadoff man for Benicia aboard each inning and committing 5 errors on the day.
Things started well for The City when during pre game we won the coin toss for the first time in 9 games and decided to take the home side, since every other game we had been visitors. Benicia came out strong in the top of the first - after being helped with a walk and an error, two consecutive doubles put SF in a 0-3 hole until the defense responded and made three outs. SF loaded the bases on three walks to start the game in the bottom of the first. But our cold streak at the plate continued, with three consecutive strikeouts by the heart of the order.
In the second, Benicia's first two batters worked walks to threaten again. This time City's defense was up to the task, with Jared Cayabyab fielding a grounder at third and firing to Sam Cormier who blocked the plate to tag out the runner attempting to score. A long sac fly to Jack Grace in center scored one run for Benicia, and finally Jack McDowell caught a popup at second to end the half inning. SF put two aboard on walks in the bottom of the second but was unable to score either runner, 4-0 Benicia after two.
Benicia's third inning leadoff batter reached on an error, and was later able to score on a double. In the bottom of the 3rd, Grace made the first hit of the game for SF and Will Kahn walked to put runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out. McDowell singled to bring home Grace. Francisco Moraga then popped out to second base and McDowell was doubled off at first to end the inning, but at least SF was on the board with the score 5-1.
The leadoff hitter for Benicia walked again and made his way around to 3rd base. An overthrow on a first and third situation allowed one run to score. Another soft popup single allowed another run to score for Benicia making it 7-1. Will Irons walked to lead off the fourth for SF and was pinch-run for by CJ Montalvo, who was thrown out attempting to steal second base. Matt Davis walked and Cayabyab singled to put two on with two out. Grace hit into a fielder's choice to end the inning, again with SF failing to score.
In the 5th Aaron Rosati took the mound for SF and made quick work of Benicia thanks to some solid middle infield play. After a leadoff infield single that Kahn stabbed to prevent it from getting into the outfield, Moraga at second turned a double play to neutralize the threat. Kahn then made the final putout of the inning - SF had held Benicia scoreless for the first time all night. A Jack Harris single opened the bottom of the 5th. Kahn ran for Harris and made his way to third on a Kieran Yater groundout. McDowell came up big again with a single to score Kahn, but a long flyout and a groundout finished the inning for SF who remained down 7-2 in the game.
Benicia solved the riddle of Rosati's movement in the 6th, getting solid bats on balls to score 3 more runs. Will Irons came on in relief and gave up one sacrifice fly before a final fly to Grace in center ended the half-inning with Benicia up 11-2. Davis & Cayabyab both walked in the bottom of the 6th to put two on with one out. After an uncharacteristic Grace strikeout, a Harris single loaded the bases with two outs. Montalvo then took some good cuts but was unable to connect, ending another scoreless inning for the SF offense.
The top of the 7th was the "Will Show" - Irons on the mound and Kahn at short. It was a 6-pitch inning for Irons, with three putouts by Kahn at short. SF was down to its final three outs in the bottom of the 7th. Two of those outs came quickly on a Moraga strikeout and a McDowell groundout. Irons & Sam Cormier walked to put two aboard, until the game ended on an uncharacteristic Rosati strikeout.
The final line for Benicia was 11 runs on 8 hits with 1 error; for SF 2 runs on 6 hits with 5 errors and 13 left on base. We had some opportunities but did not capitalize; we also let too many of their leadoff batters aboard which increases the pressure and likelihood of a score.
So ends the 2014 SFLL Junior All Stars season. These players worked hard to form a team over five weeks' time, and when they executed to their potential, the results were fantastic, with the highlight being the 13-2 District 3 Championship win over Mill Valley. These players have made some good memories for themselves and for nearly all of them, their Little League playing careers are over. We coaches know this group will do great things with their lives and hope we've given them some tools to achieve those successes. We expect to hear good things about their high school accomplishments and hope to see them around SFLL fields sometime in the future!
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