Having each dominated their first five games of All Star play this summer, both Dos Pueblos Little League and Goleta Valley South Little League had high hopes entering this Winner’s Bracket Showdown in the District 63 Championship on Saturday.
The stakes were high as the winner would advance directly to the Championship game, Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 at Girsh Park. The emotions would run just as high as the stakes, with Goleta Valley eking out a 6-5 victory in a game that ended when DP’s potential tying run was called out at home plate in the sixth inning.
Starting out, the game began exactly as one would expect when the two best teams in the Tri-Counties face off.
Goleta Valley starter Trey Tank and Dos Pueblo starter Dylan Kelley locked horns in a scoreless draw for the first two innings. Dos Pueblos drew first blood in the top of the third when Tank walked two batters and had to be relieved by Colter Nisbet. Nick Baker proceeded to single in a run as did Will Goodwin for Dos Pueblos. Goleta Valley promptly answered back in the bottom of the third with two runs of their own, scratching together three walks, a single, a wild pitch and an error.
Dos Pueblos struck for another run in the top of the fourth off of Nisbet on the backs of Thomas Jimenez and Justin Padilla singles. But once again Goleta Valley fought back and turned singles by Tank and Nisbet and an error by Dos Pueblos shortstop, Davey Demeter, into a one run lead.
Nisbet held Dos Pueblos in check in the top of the fifth inning and plated two more runs on an Evan Kling single that just eluded a diving Dos Pueblos second baseman, Dan Willitt.
Kling, now on to pitch in relief of Nisbet, made short work of the first two batters of the Dos Pueblos sixth inning, striking both out. Then facing Padilla with two strikes, Kling just missed the zone. Both sets of bleachers let out audible “oohs” and ahhs”. Kling’s next offering to Padilla was just off the inside corner of the plate, but it caught just a bit of Padilla’s jersey. Just enough for the umpire to notice and breathe a bit of life into the Dos Pueblos attack awarding Padilla first base. Baker and Kling then battled with Baker ultimately prevailing managing a full-count walk. Goodwin now strode to the plate as the tying run for Dos Pueblos. The big right hander ripped Kling’s 1-2 offering into left field, loading the bases for Ashton Borgeson.
Goleta Valley catcher, Sam Drew, and Kling conferred on the mound and agreed on a plan of attack, but all planning aside, on the first pitch to Borgeson, Drew called for an off-speed pitch and Kling hurled a fastball right past the nimble catcher to the backstop.
The Dos Pueblos runner on third base easily scored on the wild pitch and when Drew’s throw to Kling sailed over the pitcher’s head, Baker scored all the way from second base! Nisbet, now playing shortstop, gathered the loose ball and caught Goodwin in between second and third. Nisbet whirled and threw to Tank, playing third base. Tank wisely ran Goodwin back towards second base and GV second baseman, Dylan Shugart. Tank tossed to Shugart and Goodwin quickly reversed field. Shugart nearly tagged the tiring runner, but elected to toss the ball towards third base where a bevy of Goleta Valley players were awaiting the play.
Somehow amidst all of the onlookers at third base, a miscommunication occurred and Shugart’s throw eluded Tank, Kling, Drew and narrowly, the opening of the Goleta Valley dugout.
Alertly the ball was picked up by Goleta Valley left fielder Isaac Oh who threw to Nisbet covering homeplate and the ball and Goodwin arrived all at the same time in a cloud of dust. With a punch of his right hand, the umpire declared Goodwin out and the game over. Goleta Valley South victorious over their rivals 6-5.
Goleta Valley moves on to the Championship Game Wednesday at 5:00. Dos Pueblos faces the winner of Fillmore vs. Santa Paula Tuesday at 5:00 at Girsh Park in Goleta.