Giants rally to win South Tahoe Little League title

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Giants second baseman Hudson James snared a line drive for the final out and a championship party ensued.

And the celebration had a little extra enjoyment after no Little League celebrations were had last season.

The Giants, who entered the double-elimination tournament as the No. 3 seed, roared back from an early deficit on Monday to defeat the top seed Yankees 8-4 on warm, sunny evening in front of fans, friends and family that packed the stands and surrounded the field.

“Absolutely there is some pent up excitement,” said Giants Head Coach Bruce Hernandez. “Today was amazing. It was against a tough team, a team we’ve battled against all season with really close scores and the boys really wanted it this time. They were fired up and respectful … just amazing kids.”

The Yankees came out swinging and put two runs on the board in the top of the first.

Donavan Gomez smashed a double to the left field wall that brought home Bryson Friederici to open the scoring. Gomez eventually crossed home plate for the second run.

Yankees righty Angelo Abandandalo, who pitched the first four innings, was masterful through two and was the victim of “contagious” hitting in the third.

James singled to lead off the inning that sparked a 4-run outburst.

“I tell the kids that all the time,” Hernandez said. “As soon as they get one hit, their bats become contagious and it’s game time.”

Adrian Grajeda singled and Jake Hennessee walked. A throwing error resulted in the Giants first run.

Tyler White lined a double to right center to plate Grajeda with the tying run, but quick fielding by the Yankees resulted in Hennessee being thrown out at home plate.

Colton Brown followed by slicing a double down the right field line to score White the go-ahead run.

Cobin Brown then smacked a hard infield single that brought home the fourth run of the inning.

From there, Giants righty Colton Brown did not allow the Yankees to score again while he was on the mound through the fourth.

With two on and two in the bottom of the fourth, Brown got a strikeout to escape the jam.

The Giants, leading 4-2 after four, expanded the lead in the fifth.

Grajeda ripped a double down the left field line that might still be rolling if it didn’t hit some fans beyond the wall. A walk and a hit batter set up Colton Brown who came through with a two-run single up the middle.

Giants catcher Jonah Benavidez capped the scoring with a two-run single to right field to make it 8-2.

The Yankees never gave up and mounted threats in each of the fifth and sixth innings.

Layne Celnar walked to lead off the fifth. After another walk and an error, the Yankees had their third run.

They may have mounted more of a comeback but the Giants turned a double play to mostly escape the rally.

In the sixth, an error, a walk and a couple of wild pitches and the score was 8-4 with one on and nobody out.

Hernandez brought in Danny Aguila from third base to pitch and he slammed the door. Aguila struck out two batters and the third out was a liner to James.

As the Giants had just started celebrating on the field, Assistant Coach Jody Benavidez, a member of South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue, arrived in a truck and joined the party with the horn and sirens lit for a moment. Benavidez was on duty and watching from the stands but was called away for a medical emergency in about the fourth inning.

After the celebration, which included spraying and drinking sparkling cider, the Giants shook hands with the Yankees and received championship rings.

“It was an all-around great game,” Hernandez said. “This year has been amazing to get these kids back out on the field and playing and by far one of the best groups of kids I’ve ever had.”

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