They had so much fun, they did it again. They had so much fun the second time, they are going to do it again.
The Petaluma National and Mill Valley Little League 11-year-old All-Star teams hooked up in a thirlling Section 1 Tournament game last week, won by Mill Valley with a walk-off grand slam home run, 8-6. Wednesday night they met again in an equally exciting contest won by Petaluma with a walk-off grand slam, 7-3. The Petaluma win gives each side one loss in the double-elimination tournament and set up a showdown game to decide the section championship tonight at 5:30 at the Strawberry Recreation Field in Tiburon.
Connor Gors delivered the slam that enabled Petaluma, for the third straight game, to stave off elimination.
In another extremely well-played game, the teams entered the sixth and final inning deadlocked at three. Pitcher Jack Gallagher, with help from his solid infield, put Mill Valley down with only one base runner in the top of the inning. In the bottom of the inning, Cort Gago shot a single to left and Nicco Bertolucci drooped a single over the head of Mill Valley first baseman Alex Pasco. A strikeout later, Jacob Sullivan slugged a single to center that was hit too hard to allow the run to score. With the bags bulging with Nationals, Gors lifted a big fly over the center field fence to bring four huge smiles across home plate.
The first half of the game was a tense pitching battle between The Nationals' Cole Santander and Mill Valley's Dylan Laydon. Both pitchers were backed by flawless defense. Santander struck out three batters over the first three innings and four in the game, but when he needed glove work it was provided, primarily by second baseman Gago and shortstop Gallagher. Galagher squashed a potential Mill Valley rally in the third inning when he snared a grounder, stepped on second and fired to first baseman Garret Gehring for a double play. Laydon struck out just two over four innings, but had the Nationals hitting the ball on the ground to his sure-handed infielders.
Mill Valley made a break through for three runs in the top of the fourth, using two barely fair ground-rule doubles down the right field line to fuel the rally.
It wasn't until the fifth that Petaluma finally blinked its side of the scoreboard, and it was bat-hot players coming off the bench that sparked the game-tying three run rally. Sam Highland opened hhe inning with a soaring triple down the right field line, just Petaluma's second hit of the game. The Nationals caught a break when the Mill Valley first baseman dropped a throw, allowing Sullivan to reach safely as Highland scored. Gors shot an RBI hit to right field and Santander, after a long battle that included four two-strike fouls, delivered the tying run with a sacrifice fly.
That brought everything down to the last inning and Gors going long for the win and a game this evening.