Sweetwater Valley Little League battles hard, but can’t best Pearland in extra inning rematch
By Elizabeth Alper
August 28, 2015 (South Williamsport, PA)--They were playing Texas again, and this time, Sweetwater Valley made sure they fought.
The boys got started early in yesterday’s game as Nate Nankil lined into right field in the top of the first to put runners at the corners. The party didn’t truly begin, however, until Walker Lannom hit a three run shot for his 14th homer in 21 games, giving Sweetwater a 3-0 lead.
After pitcher Antonio Andrade hit Garcia, Jarrett Tadlock singled, putting Sweetwater in a jam in the bottom of the first inning with no outs. Just like that, Sweetwater’s lead evaporated; Zack Mack hit a grand slam that if you didn’t know any better, you could’ve sworn it was hit by a major leaguer. Texas climbed ahead 4-3 and Andrade was replaced on the mound by Nankil.
Pearland threatened again, but Nankil saved the day with a great catch and throw to second and then to first for a double play. Pearland had runners at second and third with two outs, but Raffi Gross fouled out to end the inning.
Nankil had a much better inning in the bottom of the second as he struck out the side and allowed only one man on base via a walk. Levi Mendez turned the good defensive inning into offensive production in the top of the third, homering to tie the game for his 16th homer in his last 21 games.
Sweetwater kept fighting for the lead. Jake Baptista hit a two run shot to give California the lead again. The boys led 6-4 in the top of the third.
A quiet inning and a half passed until Zack Mack drove in a run on an RBI single to make the score 6-5 in the bottom of the fourth with two outs. Pearland kept threatening, but a line drive out ended the inning.
Texas wasn’t letting California win their rematch that easily. In the bottom of the fifth, Marco Gutierrez hit a solo homer to tie the game at six.
Nankill was replaced by Baptista after Sweetwater foiled a triple attempt by Texas. Pearland loaded the bases again with two outs, but Baptista got the strikeout to end the inning.
We went to bonus baseball. In the top of the eighth, Nankil reached first on a single. Baptista lined a double back up the middle, driving Nankil home to give Sweetwater a 7-6 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, with Sweetwater well on the way to winning, Ben Gottfried looked for a solo homer and he got one, tying the game at seven.
Texas ended up winning the game 9-7 in dramatic fashion with a two-run shot to win the game. Sweetwater is coming home after a great run. Texas will move on to face Pennsylvania in the U.S. Championship game on Saturday.