HANFORD — Hanford’s hopes for a 2019 Cal Ripken 12-60’ Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament championship were dashed after an error-filled fifth inning, which led to their 8-3 semifinals loss to Bullard/Davis at the Bob Hill Youth Athletic Complex on Thursday.
Locked in another tight battle, No. 1 seed Hanford entered the top of the fifth inning tied 3-3. But after a quick fly out, things quickly unraveled. A single and triple by the No. 2 seed Knights from Pool B gave them the go-ahead run followed by an error and another triple.
Now trailing 6-2, a successful bunt single compounded by a misplayed ground ball and a dropped pop fly allowed the Knights to plate two more runs. The All-Stars made three errors in the inning.
“Like I always told the boys, hitting gets contagious and so do errors,” Hanford coach Carlos Perez said. “When you’re playing a great team, you can’t give them seven outs in an inning and that’s what we did.”
The All-Stars never recovered and only managed to get one runner in scoring position over the final two innings. They went 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position and made four total errors before being eliminated.
“It was a couple of innings, mostly the [fifth] where we gave up a bunch of errors, but other than that our pitching was good,” Hanford shortstop David Hilyard said. “We needed to hit the ball a little bit more, but other than that we played all right.”
Hanford never led in the game, but responded in the early innings when they trailed. Down 2-0 in the bottom of the second, the All-Stars got a lift from extra player Aiden Redding’s leadoff double and Manny Souza’s single. Left fielder Nathaniel Zackery then roped an RBI single down the third-base line.
“Honestly, I was like, ‘Holy crap I didn’t hit a ground ball,’” Zackery said. “I was just thinking to hit a hard ball, try to get somebody in and it happened.”
Gavin Luna tied the game on an RBI single to left field. Looking to add more with a runner on second and third, Hanford was caught in a rundown attempting to swipe home on a wild pitch to end the inning.
Bullard took a short-lived 3-2 lead in the third when Hilyard tied the game in the bottom of the frame on a solo home run to deep center field. His shot came after he hit a ground-rule double in the first inning.
“Going up to that at-bat I was just looking for a hard base hit after hitting the ground-rule double and I saw the high fastball, took advantage of it and just let it fly,” Hilyard said.
The All-Stars struggled at the plate and lifted almost every pitch. In the fourth inning, they went 1-2-3 all on fly outs.
“I don’t think our boys were as focused as the first three games and I think that played a big part,” Perez said. “It just seemed like they weren’t as confident at the plate as they had been.”
Wyatt Bookout got the start and went two innings allowing one earned run on one hit with four strikeouts and three walks. Kazden Berna pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings with a strikeout and walk.
David Hilyard and Aiden Redding were named to the All-Tournament team for their excellent play. In addition, Bullard's Brayden Chairito, Jay Samamiego and Sam Shmorgen made the team, as did River Park's Curtis Muraki, Luke Pryor and Austin Aten. Hawaii's Jayden Kleinbaker and Antoine Rivera were also selected. Bullard's Jack Cooper was named the MVP and Bullard's Drake Davis was named the most inspirational player.
The All-Stars finish 3-1 in the tournament, including being one of two teams (Hawaii being the other) to go 3-0 in pool play.
Despite the loss, the All-Stars will still advance to the World Series after securing their spot with a win in the Central California State championship game. The World Series will be held in Visalia and begins July 31 with check-in and other activities.