Tri-Valley 5, Hawaii 4 (Eight Innings)
Third round, Babe Ruth 14-year-old Pacific Southwest Regional
The Star: Ryan Anderson hit a three-run double to left field, closing a 4-1 deficit for Tri-Valley.
The Turning Point: Reliever Sam Nathan came in and retired the side in the top of the eighth, giving Tri-Valley the momentum it needed in the bottom half of the inning.
The Quote: "We battled and we were down, and we don't give up," catcher Daniel Jackson said. "We battled throughout the game and that's just how we win."
Who's Next?: Tri-Valley will meet Westchester (Southern California) in the tournament championship game Saturday. Westchester beat Hawaii 16-13 in eight innings on Friday. Tri-Valley has already played Westchester, winning 11-1 on Wednesday.
The Bottom Line: Tri-Valley is one victory away from the tournament title.
The plea rang out from a spectator in the bleachers.
"We need a hero!"
It was the bottom of the eighth inning and the 14-year-old Tri-Valley All-Stars had a runner on second base with two outs and were locked in a tie with Hawaii.
Josh Sprugasci must have heard the desperate request. On the second pitch he saw, he ripped a single up the middle to score Sam Nathan and secure the 5-4 victory Friday, which sends Tri-Valley to the Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament title game.
"It felt great," Sprugasci said. "I hit the ball and it was going to center field, and I knew it was going to be close if he got the ball and as soon as he missed it, I was so happy. I started jumping."
It was a bit of redemption for Sprugasci, who started and allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings.
"They hit the home run," Sprugasci said. "It happens. People hit home runs and I came out and I was OK with that because I gave up runs."
Ryan Anderson made sure those runs wouldn't be a factor when he hit a three-run double down the left-field corner to tie the score at 4 in the bottom of the fifth.
"I was excited after I hit it, and before that at-bat, I kind of knew we needed to get a hit," Anderson said. "And I had confidence. Once I got that double, I was pretty excited to tie the game."
Tri-Valley had a chance to close out the game in the bottom of the seventh, but stranded two runners.
With the score still tied in the top of the eighth, reliever Sam Nathan shut down Hawaii by forcing a ground-out, fly-out and a strikeout.
"I had a lot of adrenaline going," Nathan said. "I knew I needed to shut them down because our offense can score some runs. I just needed to put a zero on the board and get us back in the dugout."
Nathan also proved to be the winning run, reaching base with a walk and stealing second to get into scoring position in the bottom of the eighth.
"I knew I had to get it or else we were probably going to have to play another inning," he said. "I felt I got a good jump."
Tri-Valley may also have a good jump on their opponents in the title game today. They will play a familiar foe in Westchester (Southern California), which they beat 11-1 on Wednesday.
"Our goal is to win this and we did it last year, so, of course, our goal is to get back to the World Series," said Tri-Valley manager Paul Pluschkell. "It's one game at a time. Staying in the top bracket is the best route, the fastest route."