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Four-run sixth gives Woodcreek District 54 9/10 title

Susac doubles in winning run with two out
By: Brett Ransford/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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EL DORADO HILLS — Woodcreek Little League fought for and earned the District 54 9-10-year-old All-Star Tournament title Sunday, as Daniel Susac hit a walk-off double to beat El Dorado Hills 7-6.

Woodcreek trailed 6-3 going into the sixth inning. Brock Thawley, who homered in Woodcreek’s 13-6 victory over El Dorado Hills on Saturday, led off the do-or-die inning with a double. His teammates crowned themselves rally kings with three more hits and three walks.

Susac was hit by a pitch, grounded out and struck out in his previous three plate appearances before he stepped to the plate with two out. Susac then drove a pitch to the center-field wall.

John Martini scored from third base, and the Woodcreek all-stars dog-piled Susac on the third-base line in celebration.

Susac said the only thought going through his head after he made contact was whether the ball would drop safely.

“Or, if it was going to go over the wall or not,” Susac said. “I was just trying to make contact with the ball and hit it where they weren’t. I was like, nervous to the end of my life.”

Nerves of steel carried Woodcreek to the championship game after losing to El Dorado Hills 9-8 in eight innings in the winners’ bracket final Thursday night. In handing El Dorado Hills its first loss Saturday, Woodcreek forced a second championship game.

Woodcreek scored only in the first and sixth innings Sunday. El Dorado Hills came back from a 3-0 deficit in the first inning to take a 4-3 lead in the fifth.

Woodcreek struck out twice to end the fifth, and El Dorado Hills closed in on the crown. El Dorado Hills starting pitcher Nate Hansen kept Woodcreek scoreless through three shutout innings before the sixth. Hansen struck out four hitters looking at strike three.

Reliever Pete Hansen ended the bottom of the fifth with a strikeout to the first batter he faced.

Momentum swung in favor of El Dorado Hills after the first inning. Woodcreek stranded four runners until Thawley again came up big.

Greg Rotteveel singled, Jacob Rotheram and Martini walked, and Carter Krupp scored the tying run on a hard-hit RBI single off the leg of pitcher Anthony Pallari.

Pallari stayed in the game and walked Zachery Watari before Susac delivered his winner.

Manager Mike Watari walked across the infield after his team received its pennant. He had his hands on his head and an awestruck look on his face.

“Unbelievable,” Watari said. “El Dorado Hills is an incredible team. Unfortunately, someone had to lose. These boys never quit. That was just remarkable. Our substitutes did it. For them to come up big in a situation like that is just unbelievable.”

Watari has taken every All-Star team he has managed to the section tournament with one exception — last year’s 12-year-olds.

“My teams have come back from the losers’ bracket before, but this one is really sweet,” he said.

El Dorado Hills manager Chris Hansen told his kids they’d have another day to celebrate in the future.

“I would say I’m a little disappointed, but I have to be proud of the kids for the way they played,” Hansen said. “We went a long way. They played a great game and just ran out of gas and pitching there in the end. This is a smart group of kids, and I’m proud of each and every one of them.”

Woodcreek now returns home to play in the Section 4 Tournament at Mahany Field. The tournament begins Saturday. Woodcreek plays its first game at 5 p.m. Sunday.