Alaniz pitches, hits Ori­oles to NGLL ma­jors ‘if’ fi­nal

Manteca Bulletin - - Sports - By JONAMAR JACINTO

Fer­nando Alaniz was nearly un­touch­able from the pitcher’s mound on Thurs­day, and he didn’t miss a bat in his hands.

The North­gate Lit­tle League Ori­oles stand­out burned the Dodgers for 11 strike­outs in a two-hit gem and broke a score­less tie in the top of the sixth with a three-run homer that high­lighted a 4-0 vic­tory, forc­ing a win­ner-take-all ma­jor­di­vi­sion fi­nal to be played tonight at Gillen Field.

It will be sev­enth meet­ing of the sea­son be­tween the two clubs, with the vic­tor earn­ing a spot in the Dis­trict 67 Tour­na­ment of Cham­pi­ons hosted by Lathrop Lit­tle League start­ing June 16.

The Ori­oles en­tered the post­sea­son with a 16- 0 record but lost to the Dodgers 7-6 last Satur­day in the win­ners-bracket semi­fi­nal.

There will be one more chance to set­tle the score thanks to Alaniz, who needed just 68 pitches to complete the game. Two in­field er­rors al­lowed the Dodgers to get run­ners on base in the third and fifth in­nings, but they didn’t get their hits un­til the sixth when Seth Baker and Noah Calmes each sin­gled.

Third base­man Le­land Crabb helped pre­serve the shutout by snag­ging a sharp line drive off the bat of Zach Grabowski for the fi­nal out.

The Ori­oles missed an op­por­tu­nity to break the tie in the sec­ond when Alaniz led off with a dou­ble but was left stranded on third. Grabowski es­caped the jam with an in­field pop-up, strike­out and grounder.

Alaniz also sin­gled in the fourth, but the Ori­oles didn’t get an­other run­ner in scor­ing po­si­tion un­til the

sixth.

Ju­nior Rosas dou­bled to spark the de­ci­sive rally, and Ge­orge Men­doza reached while mov­ing the lead run­ner with a well- placed bunt. That set up Alaniz’s im­pres­sive no- doubt shot to left field.

The Ori­oles tacked on an­other run when Crabb’s hit to cen­ter field was dropped, al­low­ing Grant Sonke — he reached on an er­ror and was fol­lowed by An­drew Guz­man’s sin­gle — to score from sec­ond base.

Grabowski started on the bump for the Dodgers and did his part in the one- hour, 10- minute pitcher’s duel, strik­ing out nine while scat­ter­ing seven hits in 5 1/ 3 in­nings. Calmes fanned the last two bat­ters in the sixth, and no bat­ters were walked in the con­test.

JONAMAR JACINTO/ The Bul­letin

North­gate Ori­oles slug­ger Fer­nando Alaniz makes solid con­tact for a three-run homer in the top of the sixth that broke a score­less tie in the sixth in­ning against the Dodgers.

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bul­letin

North­gate Dodgers cen­ter fielder Seth Baker tracks down the pop fly in the ma­jor-di­vi­sion ti­tle-round con­test against the Ori­oles on Thurs­day.

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