Tracy Babe Ruth’s 9-and-Under All Stars has returned from Bakersfield with the Central California Cal Ripken title, sealed with four wins in a row, including a 13-3 win over Visalia Blue in the championship game Saturday, July 13.
The state-level title qualifies the team for the Cal Ripken Baseball Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament, the top level for their age group, from July 22 to 27 in Riverton, Utah.
It’s the second year in a row a Tracy Babe Ruth 9U team has won the Central California title and moved on to the regional tournament.
Coach Robert Giannini said the trip to Utah is a significant step for a team that has been together for just six weeks.
"From our first tournament … to the state tournament, we made leaps and bounds," Giannini said.
The team, made up of the best 9-and-under players from Tracy Babe Ruth’s regular season, formed in early June. Right away, Giannini, fellow coach Jeff Mock and manager Mark Franco signed up to compete against established travel ball teams.
The Babe Ruth 9U All Stars played two tournaments in early June, including the Junior Optimist Baseball League 30th annual Fathers Day All Star Invitational in Concord on June 15 and 16, which the boys won.
The team swept its Cal Ripken tournaments, the next step up for Babe Ruth all-stars, including a District 1 qualifier June 21 to 23 in Ripon and the Central California tournament July 8 to 13 in Bakersfield.
"They’re fully prepared for the regional tournament in Utah now," Giannini said.
Franco said each game before and during the Cal Ripken tournaments gave every player a chance to prove his value to the team.
"When you get your play, you’ve got to make it, and thankfully they’ve done it most of the time," Franco said.
Pitcher and shortstop Tyson Dawson, who has competed in state tournaments twice before with Babe Ruth’s 8U all-star teams, said he and his teammates believed in each other’s abilities by the time the team reached Bakersfield.
"We were confident and we were ready to play," he said, adding that the All Stars will take that same attitude to Utah. "We’ll just play our hardest, 100 percent, and hope we get a win."
Dawson — the team’s leading pitcher with 10 strikeouts in 10 innings during the Central Califonia Cal Ripken tournament — was one of six Tracy players who earned all-tournament honors.
Pitcher and shortstop Drew Giannini had 10 base hits in 12 at-bats, including three doubles and a triple, and was named the tournament most valuable player.
Jacob Dutra batted .800 for the tournament, Jareth Franco batted .455, Kevin Chavolla led the Tracy team with five RBIs and Logan Mock batted in four runs. They also received all-tournament recognition.
Fellow team members are James Britton, Anthony Gomez, Nathan Russo, Mikey Salas, Jonathan Souza and Eric Willis.
The team is scheduled for four days of pool play in Riverton, Utah, starting on Monday, July 22, against Northern Utah.
The tournament includes four teams from California, three from Utah, two from Arizona and one from Nevada. They will compete for a chance to play in the eight-team single-elimination bracket, which begins Friday, July 26, followed by semifinals and the championship game on Saturday, July 27.
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or email@example.com.