HANFORD — In their closest contest in pool play, the Hanford All-Stars continued to impress after grinding out a tough 6-2 win over River Park on Wednesday night.
“Two great teams, we were battling,” Hanford coach Carlos Perez said. “You got to have confidence in these boys and they have it in themselves so it makes me feel pretty confident in the whole team.”
The victory gave the All-Stars a 3-0 record in pool play and won them Pool A. They’ll be the No. 1 seed for Pool A in today’s semifinals game. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. against Bullard/Davis at the Upper East field.
“They battled,” Hanford coach Carlos Perez said about pool play. “Every team here can beat anybody and we battled and like I told the boys, ‘Fourteen players on the roster, I’m using every single one of them if I have to,’ and I have for the past two games so I’m pretty comfortable with that.”
Tied 2-2 headed into the bottom of the fifth inning, the All-Stars — who had stranded a runner at second base in two of their first four innings — finally broke through offensively. Hanford center fielder Wyatt Bookout came up clutch in the inning with a two-out two-run single to make it a four-run game.
“He threw three balls, so I had to capitalize on it,” Bookout said. “I was working him, he finally gave me the perfect pitch and I let it go. Off the sound of the bat it sounded very good … so I felt a little confident right there.”
Before Bookout’s shot, Hanford scored the go-ahead run when pinch runner Landon Silva went from third to home on a wild pitch. Four batters later, Kazden Berna scored from second base after a passed ball and a throwing error by River Park’s catcher.
“I started at second and I was all the way at third when he grabbed the passed ball,” Berna said. “I saw that [Preston King] was running it out and then the ball went [into the outfield], so I just took it and head-first slid.”
Berna started the game and allowed two runs on four hits with three strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings. He passed the ball to Austin Price, who tossed 1 1/3 innings and allowed three hits, no runs and fanned two batters.
Hanford pitcher David Hilyard took the mound in relief in the 5th inning and proceeded to get one of the biggest outs of the game. With the game still tied at two, Hilyard got two quick outs before walking two batters to load the bases.
He stayed calm and got a lineout to right field where Nathaniel Zackery got a good jump on the ball and was able to track it down to save a couple runs.
“When I threw my pitch I knew it wasn’t in the right spot and he just took it to right field and thankfully my teammate Zackery got the catch,” Hilyard said. “I was really just trying to get through it. I was only throwing fastballs because I knew they couldn’t catch up to it.”
Hilyard was effective in 1 2/3 innings allowing no hits with four strikeouts and three walks. Gavin Luna came on to get the final out of the game.
Hanford took an early 2-0 lead on an RBI single by Hilyard. On the same play, Hilyard was able to come home and score after a throwing error by the third baseman.
River Park responded with an RBI double in the second inning and an RBI ground out in the third inning to tie the game. With the loss, River Park was knocked out of the tournament.