The Yankees had played the Giants six times prior to meeting for the American Canyon Little League Major Division title on Monday afternoon, beating each other once in the season-ending tournament alone.
After finishing second to the Giants during the regular season, the Yankees won the matchup for the second time in three days, 13-9, to claim the league title at a blistering hot Maher-Ramos-Wood Park.
“We have only lost to two other teams this season besides them,” Giants manager Jason Perry had said after Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Yankees. “It is fitting we would play this team in the finals.”
Each team in the division for ages 10-12 was known for its hitting prowess, with both sides usually racking up runs on the scoreboard.
It was pitcher Dylan Brown who stood out Monday, though. Short in stature yet not lacking in arm strength, the hurler put together one of his best games of the year. Brown lasted four innings while allowing five runs on just six hits and two walks while striking out six.
“I was happy about today, because I threw strikes and I didn’t walk to many people,” Brown said. “That might have been one of the best times I have pitched, and I am just glad I didn’t crack under pressure.”
Deep into any Little League postseason push, pitching can become an issue. The Giants had used up most of the pitches from ace Tegan Wendt on Saturday, when the tall right-hander allowed the Yankees’ only run in the sixth and final inning.
“It feels good to get this win today because we have lost a bit to them this season,” Brown said. “So it feels good to get them back.”
The Giants sent Mario Juarez to the mound to start Monday’s game and the right-hander threw a strong first inning, allowing only one baserunner on a walk. Unfortunately for the Giants, walks would become a major factor in the contest.
Brown came out of the gate strong for the Yankees, as well, striking out four batters in the first two innings, and the Yankees’ offense awoke in the second frame.
Joey DiMaggio drew a walk. Julius Wade followed with a hard-hit grounder to the second baseman for a fielder’s choice, but DiMaggio made it to second base before the throw. Patrick Elias drew a walk to load the bases and Travis Chick scored DiMaggio on a five-pitch walk.
Brown picked up another base on balls to plate the second run, and Juarez was replaced with Ethan McDonald. Jaedon Mendoza achieved the lone hit of the inning, popping a single to left field to score Elias. But McDonald forced an infield fly to pick up the second out of the inning, and then struck out a batter to end the frame.
The Yankees did most of their damage in the third inning. Dominic Ford led off with a walk, DiMaggio drew his second walk of the game, and Wade crushed a double to left field to score Ford from second base. Elias added another walk, and Brown picked up his second and third RBIs on a single to centerfield that scored DiMaggio and Wade. Erick Lopez knocked a double into the outfield to push in Elias and Brown, and a single from Junior Trejo finished up the impressive inning by driving in Lopez for a 9-0 lead.
The Giants never gave in, however. The boys in black and orange added their first runs in the bottom of the third.
Juarez led off with a single to centerfield. After a quick groundout by Kaden Roberts moved Juarez to second base, Wendt made strong contact to score the runner and pick up a single. Andre Lopez poked a ball into centerfield to put two runners on.
Ty McDonald then launched a line drive into right field and the outfielder tripped and fell. Wendt scored easily, but there was chaos at the end of the play. McDonald rushed around the bases and was within breathing distance of Lopez on the base paths as both heading toward the plate. A strong throw from the outfield nabbed Lopez at the plate, but McDonald avoided the follow-up tag in the commotion.
Lopez came in to pitch for the Giants and the Yankees were able to put up only one run in the fourth. Wade added his second hit of the day, and a third straight walk from Elias allowed Brown to notch his fourth RBI of the game – a single to centerfield that scored Wade from second base. The 11 walks the Yankees drew were a major key to their success.
Lopez led off the top of the fifth for the Yankees with a walk, Trejo smacked a double to centerfield, and a passed ball allowed Lopez to score from third. Austin Fredeen reached on a fielder’s choice and Wade’s hard struck single scored Fredeen. With the Yankees leading 12-3, the Giants had only six outs left.
The Giants attempted a comeback in the fifth after Brown reached his 85-pitch limit. Wendt doubled, Lopez walked, Ty McDonald singled, and Ethan McDonald hit a ball into foul territory that bounced off a defender into the field of play, plating Wendt and Lopez.
After the Yankees added an insurance run in the top of the sixth, the Giants answered. James Persico blooped a single into right field, Juarez crushed a double into the centerfield gap and Roberts poked a ball through the first baseman’s legs, allowing two runs to score. Wendt was intentionally walked and Ty McDonald notched his third hit on a single to the right side, driving in Wendt and Roberts. But two strikeouts wrapped up the Yankees’ championship.
“This is my third year in a row winning a championship,” Brown said. “It feels so great to win the championship, because we get to keep playing other league. I am hoping this year we will get farther than we ever have before.”
The Yankees will host the Fairfield Atlantic runner-up at 1 p.m. Sunday in the first round of the District 53 Tournament of Champions.
For the championship in the division for 8- to 10-year-olds, it was a 2-0 sweep by the Pirates over the Dodgers. The Pirates cruised to a 17-6 victory on Saturday to clinch the title in a game called after four innings due to the 10-run mercy rule, and afterward one of the young players grabbed their giant Pirates flag and started racing around the outfield. The players then came together to throw their hats into the air and dance.
The Dodgers scored five runs in the first inning but weren’t able to keep up the momentum, even though Pirates starting pitcher and ace Alex Rivera dislocated his shoulder in the third inning.
“We won this game for Alex,” Pirates manager Gabe Snook said. “This was all for him after he had to leave the game.”