The Tiburon All-Star pitcher did something few Twin Cities opponents accomplished in the District 3 Little League Tournament finals Wednesday night. He kept 1-2 hitters Zach Cohen and Clayton Demski in the ballpark in the first inning.
One problem: A pretty good hitter follows them in the lineup, and it was a home run by Nick Calzaretta that ignited the Twin Cities offense in a 5-1 victory over Tiburon at Joe Wagner Field in Corte Madera that clinched the district championship.
“It was a Little Leaguer's paradise: immaculate field, amazing crowd, perfect weather and a tough opponent,” assessed triumphant manager Bill Ryan. “Our offense produced, and ultimately it was the defense that stopped them.”
That defense started on the mound, with Cohen and Demski combining to shut down a Tiburon team that had scored 54 runs in five games in pool play and 15 more in quarter- and semifinal wins.
Key plays by second baseman Andrew Colletti and shortstop John Ryan also contributed big-time to the difference-making defensive effort.
“Tiburon was a team that scored a lot of runs during pool play and the playoffs,” Manager Ryan noted. “We knew that pitching and defense would be the key.”
The championship sends Twin Cities into the Section 1 Tournament in Petaluma, where it will face Vacaville on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Calzaretta came to the plate with two outs in the first inning and promptly belted one into the big tree behind the fence in right-center field for a 1-0 lead.
"That really gave us the confidence to keep it going," Ryan assured.
Reese Osborn followed with a doubled, and pinch-runner Rusty McDonough scored on Andrew Colleti's single for a two-run advantage.
Twin Citles never looked back, with Andy Ehrenberg, Cohen and Demski scoring subsequent runs.
"We are so proud of this team," Ryan boasted. "Twin Cities Little League baseball has been around for over 50 years, and we are honored to represent the program. I have never seen so many people at a Little League game.
"Tiburon has been our rival for many years, and they have a super organization. We have interleague play with them during our regular season, so we knew they were going to be very tough. Their team is stacked with talent, and their coaches are always very prepared. The baseball gods just happened to be on our side (Wednesday) night."