It was a big day in Atwater for Mountain Area Little League baseball June 16 as the major league Reds of Yosemite Little League defeated Turlock American 7-4 to win the District 73 Tournament of Champions for the first time in Mountain Little League history.
The Tournament of Champions is a tournament featuring eight league champions from Los Banos to Oakhurst against each other to determine the best team in the section.
Manager Bobby Woolsey has coached the Reds for the past six years and has led the Reds to six straight Yosemite Little League Championships.
"I've coached some great baseball players over the years, and I am so proud of the boys this year for their hard work and dedication to win the Tournament of Champions," Woolsey said. "No Mountain Area team in Oakhurst, Coarsegold, Mariposa or Auberry has ever accomplished this."
Woolsey is assisted by coaches Pete Conti and Mike Howell.
The Reds finished their regular Little League season play with an impressive 18-0 record, outscoring their opponents 225-30.
"Our pitching staff and aggressive bats have really brought us to where we are today." Woolsey said.
The Reds pitching staff was led by Austen Burgeno, Christian Conti, Tyler Matyshock, Cody Woolsey and Paul Antonis.
Reds beat Los Banos 15-0
The Reds began tournament play against the Los Banos Angels in Los Banos June 12. The game ended in a 15-0 blowout on a no hitter thrown by Burgeno.
"Austen pitched a fantastic game ... Los Banos couldn't hit him." coach Conti said. "It was by far, his best outing of the year and our hitters came out really aggressive. It was a great game."
In addition to the pitching, the Reds bats were unstoppable. Preston Conti led the hitting attack with a double and triple for five RBIs, Christian Conti had a triple, Tyler Helwig had a triple and two RBIs and Lucas Howell had a ground rule double. The win earned the Reds a semi-final game against the Turlock National Champions, the Rockies, on June 14 back in Turlock.
Reds defeat Rockies 5-2
On the mound June 14 for the Reds in the semi-finale game was 12-year-old Christian Conti.
The Rockies (18-2) came out in the first with two singles and a fielder's choice grounder that scored the first run of the game. They would hold that lead until the crucial third inning when the Reds came to life.
With one out and a runner on first, Christian Conti, who came into the game with four home runs on the season, connected for a drive over the left field fence for a two run home run. The Reds added three additional runs in the inning and never looked back.
In the sixth inning, with Conti still on the mound and the score 5-1 Reds, Conti walked the first Rocky batter to start the inning. On the next play, the Reds infield had a late throw to first on a ground ball hit between shortstop and third base. With two runners on, the next Turlock batter hit a bloop single to left field that advanced the runners.
The Reds suddenly found themselves in trouble with bases loaded, no outs, and the tying run at the plate.
The coach pulled the infield in for the force out at home, but Conti struck out the next Rocky batter on five pitches. With one out, the next Rocky batter hit a hard grounder that knicked shortstop Cody Woolsey's glove and rolled into left field, scoring a run and advancing the runners. Score now 5-2 Reds.
With the Turlock fans getting loud, Conti pitched to another full count, finally getting the next batter to hit a hard grounder to first baseman Tyler Matyshock who made a great play and threw to the catcher, Preston Conti for the force and the second out.
With bases loaded and two outs, Christian Conti had reached 88 pitches and maximum for a Little League pitcher and he was replaced by Tyler Matyshock.
"I had all the confidence in the world that Tyler could come and close out the game," coach Woolsey said.
Matyshock threw two straight fastball strikes right by the Turlock batter. The third strike the batter fouled off, and with his fourth fastball, Matyshock struck out the Rocky batter to end the game and earn the Reds the chance to play in their first ever Tournament of Champions championship game.
YLP Reds win title with 7-4 victory
In the highly anticipated championship, the Reds would face the Turlock American Rangers who defeated Atwater to reach the championship game last Saturday in the 106 degrees weather.
The Rangers came into the game with a perfect 24-0 record and their top five hitters had a combined 15 home runs on the season. The Reds entered the game with their own undefeated record at 20-0.
On the mound for the Reds was 11-year-old lefty, Matyshock.
In the second inning, the reds would score two runs off a bunt base hit by Preston Conti, and Cody Woolsey getting on base after being hit by a pitch. A clutch hit up the middle by Paul Antonis scored Conti and Woolsey.
To start off the third inning with no runners on, Christian Conti lined a solo home run out of the park for the Reds. The big hit turned the momentum in the Reds direction.
That inning was followed by the Ranger pitcher allowing a base hit and walking two batters, then hitting Antonis with bases loaded for another Reds run.
Second Baseman Austin Bebout would make two great defensive plays in the first and fourth innings on high pop ups -- two of his many great defensive plays in the tournament.
The tide started to change for the Rangers in the bottom of the third inning with a base hit. After a strikeout by Matyshock and the base runner stealing second, the Rangers' Tyler Etharidge hit a high fly ball to deep right field. The hit drove Reds right fielder Noah Mcintyre to the warning track where he made the catch for the second out of the inning. Ranger shortstop, Dominic Silva, then connected for a line drive two-run home run making the score Reds 4, Rangers 2.
In the 5th inning, Turlock would make the game even closer with a solo home run to right field by their lead off catcher Tyler Etharidge to bring the game to 4-3.
In the sixth inning, the Reds started off with a singles by Christian Conti and Lucas Howell with a wild pitch moving the two to second and third. Burgeno came with a solid base hit that the center fielder missed and went all the way to the center field fence. It would turn into a costly mistake and an in the park home run for Burgeno, and the Reds with a 7-3 lead going into the final inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Matyshock gave up a single to right, then gave up a single up the middle to
center. With runners on first and second, the next batter lined a base hit to deep center field. Austen
Burgeno, the center fielder rifled a throw all the way home to catcher Preston Conti. The throw would beat the Ranger first basemen to home resulting in a big collision with Reds catcher Conti. The impact injured Conti's hip and head but he held onto the ball for the out. The Turlock player was ejected from the game for intentionally injuring a defensive player. After getting checked out, Conti remained in the game.
With the bases loaded, the next Ranger batter hit a ground ball to shortstop Christian Conti who threw the runner out at first for the second out of the game, letting the Rangers score a run to make it 7-4.
With two outs, and Matyshock out of pitches, manager Woolsey would bring in his first baseman, Cody Woolsey, for the save. Woolsey would face Tyler Etharidge who already had a home run and double earlier in the game. Woolsey got Etharidge to ground to third baseman Howell, who would make a perfect throw to a stretched out Matyshock for the third and final out of the game, sealing the Yosemite Little League Reds as District 73 TOC Champions.
"These boys have huge hearts and great baseball savvy ... I'm proud of them all, thankful to the parents and really happy to be bringing the first ever District Championship back to Yosemite Little League," Woolsey said.
Dodgers get to semi-finals
The Sierra Mountain Little League Dodgers, coached by Eric Peterson, advanced to the second round of the Tournament of Champions play-offs after a 10-3 thumping of the Atwater Cardinals June 12 in Oakhurst.
In the Dodgers win over Atwater, catcher Connor Reardon hit a two-run home run over the centerfield fence in the second inning and had five RBIs.
It was a team effort all around as the Dodgers Samuel Burnheimer started the game from the mound and went three innings giving up just one run before handed the ball off to Ty Peterson with the Dodgers have a solid 8-2 lead in the game. Peterson pitched two shut outs innings before Caleb Eicholtz came to the mound to close the game.
The win earned the Dodgers a trip to Turlock June 14 to face the Turlock National Rangers in the semi-final game.
In what many were hoping might turn into a Tournament of Champions final game between the Dodgers and the Reds, didn't quite come to fruition.
The Rangers broke out their big sticks, hitting four home runs, one a grand slam, off Dodger pitching, on their way to a 12-2 win, thus eliminating the Dodgers from further play.
Assistant coaches for the Dodgers are Pete Reardon and, Bob Heidelbrecht.
Both Sierra Mountain Little League and Yosemite Lakes Little League open all-star play on June 30 in Turlock. Game times were not available by press time.
The Yosemite Little League All-Stars are coached by Bob Woosley, Pete Conti and Bob Howell.
The Sierra Mountain Little League All-Stars are coached by Peterson, Bill Ward and Bob Hidelbrecht.
Players selected to the team are Caleb Eichltz, Samuel Burnheimer, Dakota West, Ty Peterson, Conner Hidelbrecht, Brendan Gillaspy, Darrian Miller, Chris Ward, Sage Crosswhite, Tanner Bonniallas, Jessie DeLacruz and Ian Allison.