In spite of umpires eventually ruling in Tracy American’s favor, the local team ended up losing 8-6 to the Alpine All-Stars of Menlo Park in the semifinal elimination match of the Little League Section 3 tournament.
Even with a couple home runs by Tracy, the bottom of the fifth inning was the turning point in a game that stayed close until the end.
Alpine had a 6-5 lead going into the fifth inning, and right away added a couple more runs on a walk and a home run off Tracy pitcher Robbie Ramirez. Alpine then loaded the bases on a single, a batter hit by a pitch and another single.
With no outs, the next batter hit a line drive to shortstop Dylan Von Hartman, who caught the ball, but then dropped it. Von Hartman quickly picked up the ball and made the throw to third base.
Had that play been ruled as a dropped line drive and force-out at third, it would have been one more run scored for Alpine, and runners would have been on first and second.
But even after the throw to third, the crew of four umpires had not made a call. After the umpires called time out and conferred, they ruled that Von Hartman made a clean catch but dropped the ball as he pulled it out of his glove to make a throw.
Even after the batter was ruled out, Alpine advanced its runners. With Alpine runners at third and second, Tracy manager Mike Schlotter told his players to throw the ball to third and second, which would have been outs if the original play had continued — the runners had left base early on a fly-out without tagging up.
Umpires did not call the runners out, however, and Schlotter was ejected as he argued the call.
But after everyone took the field and the home plate umpire called “play ball,” Ramirez prepared to make his next pitch. That’s when Tracy coaches instructed Ramirez to step off the mound, throw the ball to third, and then throw the ball to second. This time, umpires ruled that the runners had left early without tagging up, calling the second and third outs to end the inning, with no run scored.
An umpire explained later that the previous throws to third and second, before Schlotter was ejected, happened before the game had resumed. Once they ruled “time-in,” Tracy was free to make the play on the base runners.
Alpine coaches protested that call, but the ruling stood after another umpire conference.
Tracy then had one more chance in the top of the sixth to take the lead.
Tyler Schlotter led off with a double, Nick Medina followed with a single and Von Hartman drove the ball toward the center-field fence. But Von Hartman was out when the Alpine outfielder made the catch. It scored another run for Tracy as a sacrifice, though, to make the final score 8-6.
Other highlights for Tracy included Brandon Russell’s two-run homer over the left-field fence in the top of the second inning, and Nick Medina’s two-run shot over the center-field fence in the third.
“The kids have a lot of heart. They’re a lot of fun to coach,” Schlotter said. “I’m sad to see it end this way, but I couldn’t be prouder of them. We’re holding our heads high. We represented Tracy well, and we’ll get them again next year.”
Alpine now goes to today’s final match against Danville, which can claim the Section 3 title with a win. If Alpine wins it forces a second game Thursday, the winner of that contest will be crowned champ.
Tracy American 10, Mission San Jose 3
Tracy recovered from a first-round loss with a 10-6 win Monday over Mission San Jose of Fremont.
Tracy took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. It included base hits from Ramirez and Noah Denoyer, and a two-RBI single from Medina. Mission San Jose tied it up 3-3 in the bottom of the second when Michael Pyle hit a three-run homer over the center-field fence.
Tracy responded in the top of the third with two more runs, including another hit from Medina, a double from Russell and a base hit from Thomas Greely to bring in Russell. Mission San Jose rallied again in the bottom of the third to make it 6-5.
Tracy took the game back in the fifth inning when Russell led off with a single and Matt Case hit a two-run homer. Chris Ramon followed with a double and came home on a base hit from Ramirez. Denoyer singled to lead off the sixth inning, Von Hartman followed with a single and Jacob Rebar and Ramon each drove in runs to make it 10-6.
Danville 11, Tracy American 1
On Sunday, the Danville All-Stars beat Tracy American, 11-1, with a four-run rally in the first inning, another run in the second, and a six-run sixth inning.
Tracy got runners on base in the second inning but couldn’t bring them around to score. In the fourth, Von Hartman led off with a walk and came around to score after Medina singled and stole second. Tracy’s only other base hit for the day was a Denoyer single in the first inning.