Angels ride depth to minors championship
After cruising through the regular season and earning the No. 1 seed in the postseason, the Angels were sent to the losers’ bracket after suffering a 9-8 loss to the Mariners on Thursday. But they didn’t stay there for long as they beat the A’s on Friday to earn a rematch against the Mariners in Sunday’s championship game.
“I knew we had the pitching depth if we got this far,” said Angels’ manager Mark Sando. “The whole year the kids have played like a family. They’ve really learned how to play well together.”
That was certainly true on Sunday, when the Angels returned to their dominating fashion displayed in the regular season.
David Sando pitched four innings and struck out eight batters in an 11-4 victory over the Mariners in the first game, then Danny Gould pitched 4 1Ú3 innings and struck out five batters to give the Angels the South Lake Tahoe National Little League Minor A Championship with a 12-5 victory in the second game.
It didn’t surprise Mariners’ manager Mike Gunn that the Angels prevailed in the double-elimination tournament that started last weekend.
“They’re a very good team,” said Gunn, whose team finished 13-7. “We’re disappointed because we had the upper hand by needing to beat them only once. The Angels just outplayed us today, all across the board. But these kids, I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The Angels’ David Sando and Robert Bartavian went a combined 4 for 4 with five RBI in the first game, which ended in the sixth inning because of the seven-run mercy rule. Jacob Francis, who played for a winless team in minors last year, hit a solo home run in the top of the third to tie the game at 2, and the Angels never trailed again.
Tyler Dill led the Mariners by going 1 for 2 with two RBI, but the Angels had seven different players record hits. That number increased to eight players in the second game.
“Everybody contributed to this in their own way,” coach Sando said. “For our first 10 games, we never had a traditional batting order. We had an arbitrary batting order, where everybody hit in all the spots. That really developed all the players as hitters.”
The Angels didn’t wait long to continue their offensive outburst in the second game. They scored the maximum six runs for an inning in the first, aided by Chris Collins’ two-run double that scored Gould and Luis Fernandez. Singles by David Sando and Griff Gregory in the second eventually led to two more runs as the Angels led 8-2.
The Mariners scored three runs of their own in the top of the third, when Dill, Liam Loftis and Austin Sharon all hit RBI singles to make it 8-5. But two more runs by the Angels in the bottom of the fourth increased their lead to 10-5.
Dill again led the Mariners offensively in the second game, going 2 for 2 with an RBI. Nick Gunn (triple), Randy Hutton, Joe Curcio and Hunter Busenlehne also recorded hits.
For the Angels, David Sando went 2 for 3 with an RBI, while leadoff hitter Spenser Buchholz went 2 for 2 with a double. Gould, Collins, Lucien Perez and Dakota Lynch all contributed hits for the Angels (15-4-1), who also relied on aggressive baserunning in both games to score runs.
“The running on the bases is something we’ve really worked on all year,” coach Sando said. “Part of what we do as coaches in Minor A is to get these kids ready for the majors. We felt we’ve done a good job of preparing them.”