There was no question that the Morgan Hill Pinto All-Stars were ready to go Friday night against the Blossom Valley A squad. Chants of “We are fired up, yeah, yeah,” began to spill from the home team's dugout at least 10 minutes before first pitch at Britton Field.
Actions from the locals backed up the words as the Pinto All-Stars went toe-to-toe with their division rivals in a contest that needed extra innings to resolve. Unwavering pitching and defense from both squads left matters at an inconclusive 0-0 tie at the end of regulation, elevating the drama.
However, the visitors pushed across the deciding run in the top of the seventh for a 1-0 victory, which forced the two teams back to Britton for a winner-take-all showdown Saturday for the zone championship.
Morgan Hill came in just as “fired up” in the rubber match (MH beat BV 3-1 earlier in the tournament) but a similar plot line to Friday's squeaker ensued as Morgan Hill's offense struggled to manufacture any runs, and Blossom Valley earned a 2-0 nod.
“I just let the players know that they did a phenomenal job in the way that they played and handled themselves,” MH manager Dave Keegan said. “Blossom Valley is a good organization with great coaches and a good group of kids. All three games were close. We will try and get them next year.”
A trio of pitchers - Shane Callison, Andrew Altmeier and Gabe Martinez - kept the BV bats cool through the six regulation innings Friday evening. Defense also kept BV off the board, as plays in the infield and outfield assisted in stranding runners in scoring position – including catches in left field by Matthew Miller in the third inning and a catch in right field by Aiden Moreno in the fourth. Morgan Hill, though, left runners in scoring position in the second, sixth and seventh innings. Dante Bellistri led off the bottom of the sixth inning with an infield hit (Martinez had the team’s only other hit) and advanced to third – where he sat as the game-winning run – on a pair of wild pitches with one out. Two straight strikeouts dissolved the chance.
After BV took the lead in the top of the seventh, Will Gnibus – hit by a pitch – reached base with one out. He traveled all the way to third on wild pitches, but got no further.
On Saturday, too, the key hit eluded Morgan Hill.
“We put a couple of runners on third but couldn't get them in,” Keegan added.
• The Morgan Hill Mustang B team is still alive after the weekend, finishing the first two games of the Region B Pony League All-Star tournament in San Jose with a 1-1 record.
Morgan Hill, which last week captured the league’s first Mustang zone title, opened the tournament Saturday with a convincing 17-3 victory over San Jose Pacific at Calero School in San Jose.
In the win, Colton Moorehead blasted a two-run home run, Pablo Causor recorded three hits and Justin Rashin, Cooper Callison and Alex Valdez each finished the game with two hits.
On the mound, Causor, Will Waxman and Justin Garrido combined to allow three runs in six innings.
The momentum, though, didn’t carry over to the team’s second game on Sunday. The Mustang B team fell behind early and failed to score in a 11-0 loss to Blossom Valley A.
The loss sent the team into an elimination game Monday against San Jose PAL - a team they beat earlier this year. Visit morganhilltimes.com for an update.
With a victory and a Morgan Hill A win Tuesday night, the two teams will face each other at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
In two games so far, the Morgan Hill Mustang A team is 1-1, losing to Blossom Valley 9-2 to open the tournament and beating San Jose Pacific 25-2.
Morgan Hill A faces Los Altos/Mountain View in an elimination game at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in San Jose.