In a back-and-forth low scoring game, City was narrowly defeated to end our summer season.
City traveled to Terra Linda's to take on the "home" team in the 1 v 4 seed semifinal matchup. We had previously faced Terra Linda in our opening pool play game, a narrow 4-2 win, and we did not take anything for granted going in.
Terra Linda came out looking like a different team in the top of the first against Sumner. Two walks and two singles, together with some aggressive baserunning put us in a 2-0 hole to start. Terra Linda had a pitcher we had not faced on the hill, who started off effectively wild, allowing three walks, a single by Caiden, and three strikeouts, but only one run for SF while leaving the bases loaded, to make the game 2-1.
Defensive assists by Miles H and Jaheim helped Sumner to a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 2nd. In our half of the 2nd, Aidan M led off with a walk. Two strikeouts and a stolen base later, Aidan had made it to second. Caiden singled to left field, and as the left fielder bobbled the ball Aidan M made the turn for home. The left fielder's throw brought the catcher up the baseline and into Aidan's running line to home plate, forcing Aidan to try and make an awkward move on his feet around the catcher. Unfortunately in the umpire's judgement this was not obstruction, and the catcher was able to make the catch and the tag for the third out, ending the 2nd with the score still 2-1 Terra Linda.
Another 1-2-3 inning for Terra Linda followed, with putouts by Caiden and Miles H. Santino then led off our half of the 2nd with a big blast to left field for a game-tying solo home run.
The top of the 4th inning was scoreless for Terra Linda, highlight by their leadoff batter being caught stealing at third after getting on with a walk. In the bottom of the 4th, City loaded the bases with one out and Santino at the plate. Terra Linda changed pitchers to another player we had not yet seen, who had an effective and quality curveball and fastball. Santino and Michael both battled for six-pitch at bats but were struck out to end the inning scoreless for both teams, 2-2 after four.
In the 5th, SF quickly got two outs but then a walk to the pitcher allowed him to get on first and quickly steal second. Then a hit that our defense could not handle allowed him to score and Terra Linda to take the lead, 3-2. City was able to get two runners on in our half of the 5th but the pitcher's deception continued to flummox us, and we headed to the 6th inning still down by one.
After a single and a pop out, Sumner had reached his pitch limit, and Travis came on in relief. Travis allowed a walk but quickly found his form and struck out the next batter. With two runners on, the following batter hit a line shot to left-center that Michael ran, dove, caught, and rolled for the third out and we headed into the bottom of the 6th with some momentum. With one out, Caiden singled to get on board. With two outs, Michael followed with a single that he turned wide to look at going for two, however the throw to second base beat him so Michael got in a rundown, allowing Caiden to score all the way from first to tie the game 3-3 heading into the final inning.
The leadoff batter for Terra Linda reached on a single and immediately stole second, then a ground out allowed him to get to third with one out. Their batter came through with a single to score and take the lead 4-3, though the next two batters were retired on groundouts, leaving SF with 3 outs to score one run and keep this game going.
With one out, Travis worked a walk and Miles was inserted as a pinch runner. Aidan M then flew out to right field for our second out. Alex came up with two out and battled through a six-pitch at bat, allowing Miles to take second and put the typing run 180 feet away. However, the pitcher's curve fooled us again and Alex went down swinging for our final out and the end of our season.
We tip our caps to Terra Linda, who went on to win the District championship the following day, and wish them luck representing our District in the Sectionals.
A hard fought semifinal game does not detract from our strong run through pool play games, it should reinforce confidence in our abilities and also give us inspiration for new things to work on, so that in the next game like this, we can find the edge that can take us over the top. Unfortunately, this team won't be together next time to try those things out, but every individual on this team will have more opportunities like this in the future, and I look forward to seeing and hearing how they respond.
Play at the plate - was it catcher obstruction? Unfortunately not
Tag(s): Juniors 14U All-Stars