Experience and a little luck help win a title | June 28, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - June 28, 2019

Experience and a little luck help win a title

Sundance flips the switch in league tournament

by Glenn Reeves

After four consecutive trips to the Palo Alto Babe Ruth League tournament championship game, Sundance players knew what it took to finish strong.

Sundance had to score the winning run in its final at-bat in the seventh inning in the team's last matchup with regular-season champion Dutch Goose.

Not this time.

Sundance came out swinging Tuesday and didn't stop until the game was decided, scoring two runs in each of the first four innings and going on to a 9-3 victory over the Goose, which finished 12-2-1 during the regular season, in this year's championship game at Baylands.

Sundance brought a 7-8 regular-season record to the post-season.

"We were a very inconsistent team during the regular season," Sundance coach Ron Fried said. "At times we looked like the best team in the league, at other times the worst. We also played in a number of close games (five one-run games), so I guess we were used to being in close, pressure games."

After Sundance's 3-2 win on Saturday, Dutch Goose was forced into the loser's side of the bracket and beat Old Pro 7-4 on Monday to stay alive and advance to Tuesday's championship round with Sundance. Dutch Goose needed to beat Sundance twice to win the league tournament. The second game never happened.

"In some ways we were a lot like the Warriors as defending champions with an attitude of 'hey, let's just get through the regular season, do enough to get into the playoffs, and then flip the switch to go to the next level,'" Fried said. "That's often hard to do but this team has gone to four PABR 15U League City Championship games in a row, so they know how to win and how to finish."

Sundance got three two-out singles in the first inning with one run scoring on Matteo Romeo's base hit and a second scoring on a wild pitch.

Dante Black hit a two-run double in the second inning, scoring Jake Riley and Jake Foster.

Joseph Rose hit an RBI single and Jonathan Mar a sacrifice fly in the third inning. Brody Simison's two-out, two-run single in the fourth made it 8-0.

And Dutch Goose had yet to come up with its first hit.

"We had a bit of luck in that the teams we played in the playoffs were missing some key players," Fried said." Often times in the City Championship tournament it's not the best team that wins, it's the team that has the majority of their players show up. All of our 15s were there for the whole playoff run while both Old Pro and Dutch Goose were missing players."

Romeo pitched a stellar game for Sundance with a no-hitter for five innings. He was next to perfect through the first four innings with no walks and six strikeouts. But two of his strikeout victims reached base on third strikes that got past the catcher.

Romeo issued his first walk in the fifth, but got out of that inning unscathed. He struck out the first batter he faced in the sixth, but again the third strike went back to the backstop with the batter reaching first base. The next batter walked and then Josh Donaker broke up Romeo's no-hitter with a single through the shortstop-third base hole and on into left field.

That loaded the bases with none out, but Romeo nearly got out of it, getting a popout and a strikeout before Diego Clarke singled to right to score one run and Andre Hyrkin walked to score a second run.

A strikeout ended the inning and concluded Romeo's outing on the mound. In six innings he allowed two hits and three walks and struck out 10.

"The kid did some great pitching,'' Fried said. "We played our best baseball, both defensively and offensively at the end of the year. We saved all of our clutch hits for the championship. Our 15s (Foster, Black, Ben Gladstone, Romeo) all came up big during the playoffs and especially during the championship game."

It was the third straight year Romeo got the win in a Palo Alto Babe Ruth championship game. He was the pitcher of record last year in Sundance's title game win over Dutch Goose and was the winner in the Prep championship game the year before.

"Early in the year we were looking at him as our closer,'' Fried said. "But it turned out we needed him more as a starter.''

Foster, Black, Gladstone, Romeo and Simison had two hits apiece as part of Sundance's 12-hit attack.

Simison hit a leadoff triple in the seventh and scored the team's ninth run. He also pitched the bottom of the seventh in relief of Romeo, allowed singles by Simon Illouz and Nolan Cook, and gave up an unearned run.

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