Fundamentals support Little League in quest this week for District 52 title
Alpine Little League manager Bob Budelli is grateful to have a talented All-Star team that is not only physically gifted, but also intelligent. And the combination of talent, intelligence and depth has put Alpine just two wins away from winning the District 52 Little League All-Star championship.
As of Monday, Alpine was the only local area team remaining in the tournament after a busy weekend at Red Morton Park in Redwood City. If Alpine beat Pacifica National on Monday in the winner's bracket championship game, they would play for the district title Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and must be beaten twice.
Alpine took a huge leap toward a title with a convincing 5-1 win over previously unbeaten San Carlos last Saturday in a matchup that featured Alpine's deep and consistent pitching against San Carlos' potent offensive attack.
But in most cases, good pitching will prevail over solid hitting as Alpine not only shut down San Carlos at the plate, but also took advantage of every San Carlos miscue in the lopsided win.
"This team is level-headed, intelligent and everyone contributes," said Budelli on Alpine's 3-0 record in the tournament. "We really work hard on fundamentals and everyone has stepped up."
Alpine pitcher Alex Hogue was the hero last Saturday by shutting down a San Carlos lineup that averaged 3.5 home runs per game. Hogue pitched 4 1/3 innings with six strikeouts and literally kept San Carlos off-balance by mixing speeds and keeping his pitches low in the strike zone.
Alpine seized the momentum and never let go in the first inning when catcher Eddie Browne doubled, then scored on a San Carlos throwing error off of a Ryan Seawell grounder. Alpine tallied two more in the third, when Seawell's ground-rule double scored Chris Budelli and then Browne scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch for a 3-0 lead.
Alpine put the game away with two insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth, when Thomas Ostrander scored on a Phillip Cartsonas pinch-hit double to right-center field. Cartsonas later scored on a San Carlos error as Ostrander closed the door in relief in the sixth to give Alpine the critical win.
Palo Alto National was eliminated last Sunday by San Carlos, 6-1. Both of Palo Alto's tournament losses came against San Carlos. Durell Williams pitched well and blasted a solo home run to right-center in the fourth inning for the Nationals, who had won four straight in the loser's bracket before Sunday's contest.
Palo Alto grabbed a pair of rare 1-0 victories last Friday and Saturday behind the pitching of Williams and Jeff Yano. Williams threw the shutout and fanned eight against San Mateo National on Friday, while Yano took care of San Mateo American with seven strikeouts on Saturday.
John Picazo, Jr. scored the only run Friday on a wild pitch in the top of the fifth inning, then halted a potential San Mateo rally with a spectacular inning-ending play from his shortstop position in the bottom of the frame.
On Saturday, Ryan Baukol scored the game's only run via a wild pitch in the first as Yano slammed the door on San Mateo.
"A big part of this team was defense as our main concern was pitching," said Palo Alto National manager John Picazo, Sr. "Overall, we had a great run and did a lot better than expected."
Defending champion Palo Alto American was eliminated last Friday by San Mateo American, 4-1 and finished with a 2-2 mark. The Americans could muster only three hits in the loss as Brad James doubled and Adam Dexter notched a pair of hits.
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