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Woodcreek overwhelms Folsom American in junior TOC

Milani dominates on mound, at plate
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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While he and his teammates were busy banging out a dozen hits, Woodcreek Red Sox ace right-hander Tyler Milani made most of that offense unnecessary as he mowed through the Twins of Folsom American Little League in the opening round of the District 54 junior division Tournament of Champions Thursday at Mahany Park. “I would give Tyler’s pitching performance a B grade,” said Red Sox coach Victor Dirkes. “He did not have his A game and he would be the first to tell you that. That is one of the reasons we left him even after the game was well in hand. He needed to find his rhythm, which he did in the last inning he pitched.” Milani struck out seven in just four innings of work, as Woodcreek won a 13-0 decision in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run mercy rule. The power pitcher did double duty, as he drilled a trio of extra-base hits with two doubles and a long home run, and also chased home four runs. Shortstop Reed Yardley set the table for the Red Sox all night long, beginning with his first at bat in the top half of the first frame. The Woodcreek leadoff hitter opened the contest with a single, then immediately stole second and third before scoring ahead of James Huck, who had reached on a walk, on a two-bagger off the bat of Joey Dirkes. “I thought the top of our order hit very well today,” Victor Dirkes said. “Joey’s (Dirkes) two-run double in the first set the tone. Reed Yardley has been on an absolute tear lately and with Tyler’s bat coming alive in the last five or six games we feel good about our offense.” Yardley was aboard again when Milani banged a two-run double in the second stanza as Woodcreek doubled its advantage to 4-0, but it could have been much worse than that, as the Red Sox stranded five runners in the first two innings. Doubles by Kyle Dust and Yardley added another tally in the third, and then Woodcreek put the game away with a five-run fourth. That outburst began with Milani’s long ball, and was capped by a three-run Yardley triple. Yardley had a total of four hits in the in first four frames, and had three pieces of the cycle, lacking just the round-tripper. Hits by Milani and Dust plated runs in the fifth as the Red Sox built their 13-run margin of victory. Folsom American was unable to get anything going against the dominant pitching performance by Milani, as the Twins managed just three singles in the game. Ryan Ruzinich, Gary Silva and Mark Beck had the Folsom American knocks. The loss ends the season for the Twins in the single elimination TOC that features the first place team from the junior division in each league of District 54. Woodcreek’s Red Sox move on to a second round matchup with Cosumnes River, a team from outside the district that is participating in the TOC and drew a first round bye. The Red Sox could see an impact from the loss of starting catcher and No. 2 pitcher Blake Robinson, who is out with a recent wrist injury that will keep him out of the tournament. Robinson’s absence thrust Will Ketchum into the spotlight Thursday to catch the hard-throwing Milani and will move Eric Whatley into the starter’s role for Saturday’s game. “Will Ketchum did a nice job filling in for the injured Blake Robinson,” Victor Dirkes said. “Eric (Whatley) has done a good job for us all year and I expect a solid outing (Saturday). The key will be our defense as the ball will be put in play. If we hit and play catch we will be fine. The Folsom team we played was very young and it showed. We expect a much tougher game on Saturday.” The Woodcreek contest with Cosumnes is Saturday’s opening game at Mahany Park, with the first pitch set for 10 a.m.