On a classically chilly, windy night at beautiful Tepper Field, the absolute best in District 3 met to lock horns. And lest anyone think otherwise, ask any one of the Marin teams right now about every single one of the SFLL 11s, and if they talk about anything other than fight, tenacity, spirit and out and out talent, tell them about a game at Tepper Field between a bunch of friends who fought and battled each other with every single Pitch tonight.
As for the game, let me start by saying that SFA came prepared for a battle. I mean, an out and out, take no prisoners, battle. The boys were confident, relaxed and ready. For weeks, swings were honed, strategies were discussed, a lot of lot of work was done, and while no one outside our circle was really paying all that much attention, an honest to God team was forming.
So, focused, confident, relaxed and ready, SFA got first raps. SFN got what they wanted as Jack Singer grounded out to Second on three Pitches. After that it was all SFA. Starting with Matt "Cheese" Gonzales' second Home Run in as many games, SFA put their foot down on the gas as SFN made some uncharacteristic Defensive miscues and finished the top of One with a 10-0 lead.
Like we said, like we knew, this was by no means a game we would win by mercy. Showing what they are made of, SFN responded with three Runs of their own on solid hits SFA's Defense did not handle. But, the Boys In Red weathered the storm and locked it down.
Both teams had quiet Second Innings. SFA got the bats going again in the Top of 3. The highlight was a bases-clearing Triple that almost left the yard by Big Mike Altman. In the Bottom of 3 SFN showed how tough they were as Adam "AG" Gardi started them off with a solid Single. Adam "Danger" Sabatino then lit into a Taghi Amundson Pitch that was ticketed for greatness before William Kahn tracked it down in front of the Center Field fence. Nice shot, Danger! Kai Moody then also got one up into the stratosphere, but again Will "Genghis" Kahn tracked it down in front of the fence and almost ended it as a hard-charging, smart Gardi broke for Second Base and made it in just before his throw. Jackson "JD" Driver then came up and hit a sharp Single into right. Jared Cayabyab got up on it and fired a strike to his cutoff and caught JD in a pickle. As JD tried to get hung out in a pickle, Gardi made his play and Angel "Cheese" Padilla fired a strike to Owen Mahoney at Home just in time for the tag.
After making the big play on Defense, Jared Cayabyab led off the Top of 4 by drilling a Double into the gap in Right Center. One Batter later Jack Singer lined a Single to score Jared and was out at Third on a stellar Defensive play by SFN when he tried to take advantage of SFN's aggressiveness. Beautiful play on both sides of the ball.
Suddenly within range of being mercied, SFN showed what they are made of and refused to go away. Bradley Barrish began the Bottom of 4 with a ringing gap Double. After Big Taghi Amundson struck out the next Batter, Ian Rose drilled a Single up the middle to plate Barrish. After Big Taghi got another K, he left a 0-1 Pitch up to Kieran Yater that Kieran rifled down the Left Field line for a Double scoring Ian. Adam "AG" Gardi kept the pressure on with a Single to make it First and Third before Big Taghi struck out the next Batter.
SFA led 14-5 at that point, but SFN had proved that they had no intention of going away. They were here for a fight too. And SFA never for a moment doubted that or got comfortable. Knowing there was a 500 lb. beast in the other dugout waiting to smell blood and pounce, SFA respected their opponent, but kept the pressure up.
Just to prove this, SFN put the pressure on in the Bottom of Five, but after Big Taghi loaded the bases on his 85th Pitch, Matt "Cheese" Gonzales came in and battled Jonathan "JT" Tin and won to end SFN's threat without letting another run in.
Knowing, again, that no lead was safe against such tough opponents, SFA came out in the Bottom of 6 looking to add more. Stephan "Iceman" Ciulla led things off with an "oppo" Single. When Big Taghi came up and grounded one into SFN's Double-Play zone, Iceman went in sliding hard, Big Taghi trucked down the line as hard as he could and through teammwork managed to break up what is usually a for sure Double Play. Afer a Jack Singer Walk, Matt "Cheese" Gonzales got his 4th hit of the night to make it 15-5. Aeden Leary-Vallejo continued to thump the ball right into people's gloves (best bad luck Hitter of the tournament, he needs to see SFPD for all the times he was robbed) before "Big O" Owen Mahoney and Angel "Cheese" Padilla pounded a couple of more Singles to make it 17-5.
SFN did NOT go quietly in the 6th, but the hard hits they made found SFA's gloves. And when Kai Moody struck one hard to Right Field, it looked again like a previous at bat that had the potential to be trouble, but Jack McDowell put the squeeze on it to end it and give SFA the flag.
Our hats off to our SFN Brothers. They fought hard and deserve recognition. All of these boys are incredibly special. They are All-Stars not just because of their talent. They are All-Stars because they respect their opponent and they fight and fight with every ounce of strength they have. And it showed after the game as SFN took the defeat in stride and congratulated the Boys In Red and wished them well on the next step of the journey. I want to recognize Kai, Jack, AB, AG, Danger, JT, Ian, Jack Harris, Bradley, Nate "The Great" Krol, Luke Amodeo, Kieran and Jack Grace. I will never forget you boys.
As for the Boys In Red, we have some more memories to create up in Woodland. We promise to represent SFLL with the same honor, integrity and spirit we have shown since our last defeat.....which, by the way, was to SFN.
SFA - All the way!