HANFORD — The Hanford All-Stars made a big statement with a 22-9 victory over Bullard/Starbuck in their opening game of the 2019 Cal Ripken 12-60’ Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament at Bob Hill Youth Athletic Complex on Monday night.
“Pool Play is probably the biggest part of the tournament,” Hanford coach Carlos Perez said. “You want to get to Thursday and you got to be top two, so that’s our goal.”
The All-Stars scored in five of six innings and put together 20 hits with six players having multi-hit games. Hanford catcher Manny Souza led the team with five RBIs on 2-for-3 hitting with two walks and two runs scored.
“It gives us room to relax and have a good time, coming up with that big of a win,” Souza said after the game. “I don’t think we should’ve let them get that many runs, but a win’s a win.
Souza drove in a pair of runners in the first and third innings with the bases loaded both times. His first hit gave the team a 3-0 lead and the second made it 6-1. With the bases loaded in the fifth, he drew a walk to plate a run.
“I was just trying to move the runners over get some runs for the team,” Souza said.
The rest of the team seemed to follow suit. Center fielder Wyatt Bookout had two RBIs and four runs, extra player Aiden Redding had two RBIs, pinch hitter Nicholas Trejo knocked in two runs and Preston King hit a two-run double in the sixth inning.
The team was an eye-popping 13-for-27 (.481) with runners in scoring position and had almost as many walks (5) as they did strikeouts (6). Their plate discipline and aggressive approach allowed them to put runners aboard in every inning.
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“We were aggressive at the plate and patient and they gave us a lot of strikes and we just put the ball in play and we took advantage of their mistakes and we made it count,” Perez said.
The All-Stars led 3-1 heading into the top of the third inning when shortstop David Hilyard reached on an error to start the inning. King, who was 2-for-4 with five runs and a walk, doubled to set up Bookout’s RBI single. Souza and Dalton Areias drove in three more runs and Carlos Perez brought another run in on a single to make it 9-1.
They proceeded to add four runs in the fourth, five in the fifth and four more in the sixth. Bullard tried to keep up with four runs in the third and fourth innings, but were shut down the rest of the way.
Hanford pitcher Gavin Luna, who was sporting a fastball, circle changeup and cutter, started the game and allowed one run on four hits in two innings of work. He had three strikeouts and walked one batter.
“I was just trying to throw strikes, hit my spots,” Luna, who was 2-for-4 with a walk and a triple, said. “My fastballs were pretty accurate.”
Other All-Stars who excelled on Monday were Kazden Berna who was 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs, Hilyard went 4-for-5 with an RBI and four runs and Bookout was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and four runs.
The All-Stars are back in action tonight against Arizona (Yuma Blue) at the upper east field at 7:30 p.m.