TRUCKEE, Calif. — Playoff week for the Truckee Little League majors division started last Monday, June 8.
The No. 1 seed and regular season champion Braves ended the season with a 12-1-2 record and matched up against the No. 4 seed Giants. The Giants ended the season 7-7-1.
On Tuesday, June 9, the No. 2 seed Rangers at 8-5-2 played the 8-7 Rockies. The winner of each game would play in the Truckee Little League championship on Friday night at Regional Field.
Championship night is the best night of the year for the little leaguers in Truckee and the game everyone wants to play in under the bright lights.
It was a nail biter on Monday night, as yet another pitching duel emerged between the Braves and Giants. There were a combined six hits between the two teams, two for the Giants and four for the Braves.
With Deacon Mehler on the mound, any team he is on has a chance to win. With two-time All-Star pitcher and hitter Patrick Hogan sitting out due to a broken toe, it was going to take a strong outing from Deacon for the Giants to win. He provided it, but so did the Braves’ pitchers.
Braedy Santens started for the Braves, and he was pitching well. With the score still 0-0 in the third inning, Remi Uribe was hit by a pitch and came around to score on an error and wild pitch.
The score stayed 1-0 until the fifth inning. Saul Botello walked to start the fifth and came around to score on a Deacon single to right. This was the second hit of the game for the Giants, as Connor McMullen doubled in the first inning to lead off the game.
With the score 2-0, Deacon ran out of pitches for the Giants and was relieved by Brandon Leitner in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Timmy Reeve and Joey Panelli walked. Cole McGeorge came up with his best hit of the year at just the right time with a ground rule double to right center that scored Timmy and left Joey on third base.
The Braves looked primed for another comeback with runners on second and third, but Brandon struck out the last two batters to end the game. Unfortunately for the Braves, Spencer Edmondson was not due up in the sixth as he was 2 for 2 on the night. The Giants moved on to the championship game in upset-of-the-year fashion.
The following night, the Rockies took on the Rangers which was sure to be another crowd pleaser, with the Rangers looking to knock the Rockies out of the playoffs after they took 2 of 3 during the regular season matchup.
Shane Poe started on the mound for the Rockies, and the Rangers countered with Dalton Pruyn, both veteran 12-year-olds. It looked like it was going to be a tight game all the way as both pitchers shut down the other’s hitters through the first two innings.
That would all change in the bottom of the third, when five of the first six batters for the Rangers got hits, led by a two-run double from Sam Smith. The Rangers would put four runs on the board by the end of the inning to take a commanding lead.
However, the Rockies weren’t throwing in the towel. Sparked by a lead-off double off the bat of Shane Poe and followed with hits by Sawyer Thompson and Lucas Kraatz, the Rockies pulled to within one, but that was as close as the Rockies would get.
The Rangers went on a hitting spree in the next inning and capitalized on a few Rockies’ miscues to blow the game open, scoring six runs in the bottom of the fourth and taking a 10-3 lead.
The Rangers’ hitting barrage was led by Owen Slusher, going 2 for 3, Jake Bullion 2 for 2, Logan Pruski 3 for 3, and Sam Smith, who went 2 for 3 and had four RBIs.
The Rockies would add a late run but the Rangers were on their way to the Championship Game with the 10-4 victory.
Little League closing night would match up the Giants and the Rangers in the Major Division Championship Game on Friday, June 13.
The two teams went 1-1-1 against each other during the regular season, and the crowd hoped for another hard-fought game.
Although the Giants were shorthanded without the services of perennial All Star Patrick Hogan, and having already used ace pitcher Deacon Mehler in their playoff game earlier in the week, the Rangers were taking nothing for granted and started their ace, Sam Smith.
The Giants pressured the Rangers right out of the gates by sending seven batters to the plate in the top of the first and loading the bases. But pressure was all it was as a ground ball to first ended the threat.
The Rangers opened up the scoring in the bottom of the first with three straight hits and scoring three runs by the end of the first inning. In the second, Sam Smith found his groove on the mound and stuck out 7 of the next 10 batters, ending with nine K’s, two hits and two walks.
In the bottom of the second, the Rangers would expand on their lead by scoring six runs highlighted by Bode Siebelink’s bases clearing hit. The Rangers continued to pound the ball up and down their lineup as key hits were produced by Kiegan Morrison, Cole Thompson, Evan Loring and Gus Loring, scoring five more runs in the bottom of the third.
The game would end by mercy rule in the fourth, securing the championship for the Rangers with the 14-0 victory over the Giants. It was also a fitting end to Rangers manager Andy Bullion’s Truckee Little League managing career, as his 12-year-old and youngest son, Jake, aged out of Little League.
Andy managed Little League teams for nine seasons and set a great example for Truckee children and parents. Congratulations came to Andy from all around, but more importantly, many thanks came from players and parents for the many years of great leadership and coaching.
Congratulations to all of the Rangers on a great season and the 2014 Truckee Little League Championship.