WEST VALLEY, Utah – After losing in its first two games of the Cal Ripken Pacific Southwest Regional, the Hanford 8-year-old All-Stars needed a little bit of help to keep its hopes of advancing out of pool play alive Thursday.
And once they got that help, Hanford took care of business later in the day to put itself in prime position to advance to the weekend in the 10-team tournament.
After Scottsdale (Arizona) came away with a win over Cerritos (Southern California), it opened the door for Hanford to move within a game of second place with a 20-3 mercy rule win over Hunter/Cyprus (Utah).
Scottsdale’s win clinched a spot in the semifinals while it kept Hanford’s chances of advancing alive. Had Cerritos won, both Scottsdale and Cerritos would have been impossible for Hanford to catch in the standings.
Now, Hanford (1-2) will play Cerritos (2-1) in a game that will most likely decide who advances and who goes home.
Hanford head coach Dave Berna said the players were motivated after hearing of Cerritos’ loss.
“I think that lit a fire under them,” Berna said. “They knew if they won (Thursday) and won (Friday) they have a good shot to move on to Saturday.”
Should Hanford win Friday, it would create a tie for second place with Cerritos at 2-2 with Hanford owning the first tiebreaker of head-to-head.
But if Roosevelt (Southern Utah) at 1-2, were also to win, that team could also pull into a three-way tie for second with the next tie-breaker coming into play: Runs allowed.
Currently, Cerritos owns the tiebreaker with 23 runs allowed. Hanford has allowed 31 runs and Roosevelt has allowed 38 runs.
Should there be a three-way tie, Hanford’s best bet to advance is to beat Cerritos by at least eight runs and allow no more than six runs.
Other tiebreakers follow but Berna hopes it doesn’t get to that point.
Against Hunter/Cyprus, Hanford made quick work of the tournament hosts.
Hanford erupted for eight runs in the bottom of the first inning, which Berna said helped calm the nerves of the players that hadn’t been used to losing twice in a row.
“We finally played our game,” Berna said. “(Hunter/Cyprus) had a tough time pitching, but when they didn’t, it seemed like we hit everything.”
In all, Hanford scattered 12 hits with the game ending after four innings via mercy rule.
With tiebreakers being an issue, Berna told the players to score as much as possible and try to give as few runs as possible.
Berna said the win will give the team confidence going into the must-win Friday game at 2 p.m.
Berna said the team was able to save its top four pitchers with Jeremiah Verela pitching on the mound for an extended part of time.
Offensively for Hanford, Dawson Berna was 2-for-2 with four RBIs. Jack Barcellos was 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs and Verela had two RBIs.
Berna also heard that Cerritos had gone through nearly all its starting pitching in its loss.
“We’re not sure what they have but I’m confident with the pitching we’re going to have,” Berna said. “This win should help them. You can see on their faces after the game that they were happy with how they played.”