Fri, Aug 02 2013 02:28 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
What an amazing adventure! That’s about all that Eastlake Little League 10-under all-star team manager Enrique Mayer can say about his team’s odyssey to a runner-up finish at last weekend’s Division III Southern California state championship series.
Eastlake entered the tournament with a spotless 10-0 record and promptly improved to 11-0 after recording a 5-3 victory in the opening game of the team’s best-of-three series against Sub-Division III North champion Sherman Oaks at Chollas Lake Little League.
But District 40/Section 2 champion Sherman Oaks used its powerful bats to win the next two games by a combined score of 40-11 to claim the state title — the last stop up Little League Baseball’s championship ladder for this age group.
The second-place finish is the highest ever recorded by a 10U all-star team to represent Eastlake Little League.
“We played a very talented team from Sherman Oaks and they definitely deserve the Southern California banner,” Eastlake manager Enrique Mayer said. “Although the scores of last two games were lopsided, it was not because Eastlake played poorly but because Sherman Oaks was an incredibly good-hitting team.”
Sherman Oaks evened the three-game series at a victory apiece after recording a 20-10 win on Sunday. Sherman Oaks then claimed the state championship with an emphatic 20-1 victory on Monday evening.
Mayer had only positive comments about his team’s final 11-2 all-star tournament run.
“I am extremely proud of our team in general and each player individually for making it all the way to the last possible game they could for this age group,” Mayer said. “The team advanced further than any other team in Eastlake Little League history and much further than anybody could have imagined given that it was comprised almost entirely of Minor A players while our opponents consisted primarily of players that played Majors throughout the season.
“After more than six weeks of practicing or playing games almost every single day, the run is finally over, but the achievement and memories created will last a lifetime for the players and their parents alike.”
Sherman Oaks had entered Saturday’s series opener riding a 10-game winning streak. However, District 42/Section 7 champion Eastlake opened up an early three-run cushion and used clutch pitching to sew up the victory by stranding eight Sherman Oaks runners on base.
Sherman Oaks manager Mike Ross said the loss was particularly stinging to his team and formed the basis for the rousing comeback in the following two games.
Heroes in the first game for Eastlake included Marcelo Mayer, who sent the second pitch of the game delivered by Sherman Oaks starter Carson Arons over the center field fence for a lead-off home run.
Elijah Christensen drove in two runs on a single in the third inning while Mayer slammed a solo home run in the fifth inning.
The younger Mayer went 3-for-3 in the game with three runs scored.
Dylan Ross blasted a two-run home run in the third inning for Sherman Oaks, which placed runners on base in every inning.
Timely defensive plays, however, got Eastlake through.
Timely hitting in the next two games powered Sherman Oaks to the title.
Eastlake relied primarily on four pitchers throughout the tournament run whom the manager said “delivered solid pitching performances as measured by their very low earned run averages.”
Benjamin Maldonado led the quartet with a 1.75 ERA, followed by Quinn Roelofs (2.13), Brandon Mora (2.28) and Noah Lane (2.36).
The elder Mayer said four hitters led his team offensively.
Roelofs hit .450 with three doubles, three home runs, 17 runs scored and 16 RBI.
Christensen hit .500 with two doubles, three home runs, nine runs scored and 18 RBI.
Lane hit .512 with five doubles, one home run, 22 runs scored and 16 RBI.
Marcelo Mayer hit .698 with five doubles, one triple, two home runs, 20 runs scored and 15 RBI.
Players who also contributed to the team’s 11 all-star tournament victories included Angel Casanova, Josh Whipple, Alex Gabaldon, Hunter Lewis, Kieran Archer, Aiden Calvert and Cade Birchmier.
“It feels good to be in the state championship. We’ve worked hard each practice and in all the games,” Mora said. “There was no I, just the team.”
“All through each tournament, we continued to work as a team,” Marcelo Mayer said. “Win or lose, I’m still happy we made it this far.”
“Really to make it this far, we’ve done great,” Maldonado said. “We do deserve all we’ve accomplished.”
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