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Lakeside, Woodcreek Juniors close out pool play with wins

Finals brackets will be drawn up
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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With their positions in next week’s six-team double-elimination finals already secure, Wednesday night’s pool-play finales for the Junior division all-stars from Lakeside and Woodcreek were merely tune-ups for the big show. Early success in pool play at the Little League District 54 Junior division tournament put these teams in a great spot as they approached Wednesday’s games, yet both were able to deliver strong results. A slow start for the second consecutive contest characterized Woodcreek’s matchup with Folsom National, but a fourth inning explosion put the doubts to rest in a 16-2 victory. “Again another slow start with only two hits in the first three innings,” said Woodcreek manager Mike Valdez, “but in the fourth our bats came to life with 10 runs on five hits.” An Austin McCarty triple and a Joey Valdez RBI single were followed by a single by Tyler Milani and a squeeze bunt from James Huck. A couple of Folsom errors loaded the bases for Derek Guerra who cleared the bases with a triple to deep right and the next batter Bobby Pajer doubled in Guerra for the 10th run in the inning. As Valdez saved pitching for the next phase of the tourney, four different hurlers (Blake Robinson, Stephen Nogosek, Guerra and Valdez) combined to allow just three hits and strike out nine batters. “We finished pool play strong and now are ready to go on to bracket play,” said Woodcreek manager Mike Valdez. “It is good to know that you can count on anyone of these 12 players to help the ball club out. We are now looking forward to see who we draw to play either Monday or Wednesday, but we will be ready.” Milani and Austin McCarty each banged out a pair of hits for Woodcreek. On the adjacent field, a much different story was playing out, as Lakeside fell behind 8-1 through four innings before racing back to capture a 15-10 win that gave it the top spot in Pool A. As both teams will be moving on to the double-elimination part of the event, the game was once again about putting themselves in the best position for next week. Folsom shortstop John Brausch and pitcher Robert Hickman combined early on to provide the defense that kept Lakeside in neutral while their squad jumped to the seven-run advantage. When Lakeside finally did find a cure for the slumbering lumber, the result was an eight-run fifth that put the team up by a run. Marc Ellis, Joe Ellis and Daniel Sutherland swung the hot sticks in that stanza. After Folsom American tallied twice in the sixth to regain the lead, Lakeside finally discovered daylight in the top of the seventh, scoring six more runs to put the game away. Will George, Gabriel Marin, Brenden Arey, Joe Ellis, Marc Ellis and Eric Egen all shared the pitching duties for Lakeside. Ponderosa and El Dorado Hills have already advanced from Pool B, and will join Lakeside and Folsom American (Pool A) and Woodcreek (Pool C) in the six-team double-elimination finals. The final participant will be the winner of a Friday game between Maidu and El Dorado Hills North that will determine the second place team in Pool C. The six qualifiers will gather in Folsom Sunday night to draw their place in the double-elimination finals, and play begins Monday.