SAN LEANDRO, CA—Behind the masterful pitching of Steve Manzo, the Alameda 14-year-old all-stars (the Alameda 14s) clinched the Babe Ruth District 4 championship with their second consecutive convincing victory over their Washington Manor (San Leandro) counterparts. With their 8-0 victory on Thursday, June 28 (one day after they won 10-3), the Alameda 14s qualified to move on to the NorCal state tournament in Palo Alto, starting Saturday, July 14.
The District 4 double-elimination tournament for the 14-year-olds involved just Alameda and Washington Manor; there wasn't an Oakland team entered in this age category (the Oakland 14s all-stars played up on the Oakland 15s team).
After waiting an extra hour on a cool, breezy evening for an earlier 11-inning 15s tournament game to finally end, Manzo made it look easy under the lights of San Leandro's municipal ballpark with a complete-game, 76-pitch (75 percent of them strikes) one-hitter. He struck out six batters, walked none, and didn't allow any San Leandro players to get beyond first base. He pitched a no-hitter through four and two-thirds innings before finally allowing a solid single to Washington Manor third baseman Antonio Hernandez. Manzo also helped himself at the plate, driving in the only run he needed with a second-inning two-out single, scoring Dominic Taylor from third base for the first run of the game.
Manzo only needed one run, but his teammates generously gave him seven more, adding four in the third inning, two in the fourth and one in the sixth. They totaled 11 hits, five walks, and seven stolen bases. Taylor played a big role offensively, going three for three with a double (which preceded Manzo's game-winning hit) and two singles, including an RBI single in the four-run third inning that really broke the game open. Taylor also recorded a stolen base and scored two runs.
Other standout offensive performers for Alameda included leadoff hitter Mitchell Nakahara (two hits — including a booming triple in the fourth inning — a walk, three stolen bases, and two runs scored), clean-up hitter Nick Solis (who drove in two runs with a double and a sacrifice fly), Vincent Republicano (who drove in two runs with an RBI single in the third inning), and Alex Vick (who also had an RBI single in the third inning, walked, stole two bases and scored two runs).
The defensive play of the game (besides Manzo's pitching) was notched by Alameda shortstop Daniel Ratto in the top of the fourth inning, when Manzo was still throwing a no-hitter. Washington Manor leadoff hitter Ben Sandoval hit a grounder up the middle that deflected off Manzo's glove onto the grass behind the pitcher's mound. Ratto sped in, grabbed the ball and while on the run, threw out the speedy Sandoval by a step.
After that, Washington Manor mustered just Hernandez's single and a line-drive out to Vick at third base in the fifth inning, but never really threatened again. Manzo closed out the game with a 1-2-3 seventh inning, striking out the final batter looking on a wicked curve ball.
Alameda now has a two-weekend layoff until the state tournament starts in Palo Alto, but manager Chuck Moseley and his staff plan to keep the boys busy until then!
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