Hard-hitting Mill Valley rolled to the Section I Little League 9-10 championship with a 9-1 win over Petaluma Valley on Wednesday evening in Alameda.
A five-run rally in the second inning set the tone for the impressive Mill Valley club that outscored four opponents, 34-4, in championship play. Left-handed starting pitcher Van Larson got the biggest hit of the frame when he doubled off Mario Taormina of Petaluma to knock in a pair of runs with two outs.
Mill Valley threatened to blow the game open in the bottom of the first inning by loading the bases with one out. After three consecutive pitches out of the strike zone Taormina got a supportive team visit from his coach and infield teammates which seemed to have a settling effect. He battled back under pressure to strike out the next two hitters
Petaluma had an uncharacteristically faulty defense in back of Taormina with a couple of dropped fly balls in the outfield, but Mill Valley continued to turn over the lineup with well-struck hits that found open territory.
Taormina, the winning pitcher in the opening game against Vacaville, was replaced by Aiden Lombardi, who surrendered the final three runs.
Petaluma infielder Lucus Schaefer had a strong night at the plate with two ground-rule doubles off Mill Valley pitchers Larson and Jake Buxton. The first double by Schaefer led to the only Petaluma run on a single by Miguel Robertson.
Catcher Vincent Glaviano also delivered two hits for Petaluma Valley. The diminutive ninth-slot hitter reached base seven times in the four games played by his club.
Valley finished with a respectable seven hits for the game, and seemingly pushed across another run in the top of the third inning, but Taormina was ruled to have left third base too early before crossing the plate.
Overall, Petaluma ended all-star competition with a strong 7-2 overall record and a District 35 championship before losing in the Section I title game.
More than any other phase of the game, Petaluma played very well defensively, FORCING opponents to earn opportunities to score. Shortstop Nicholas Taormina made nine plays in the four final games without an error. The work of Glaviano behind the plate was also stellar.
Mill Valley will move on to the Northern California Little League Championships hosted by Oak Ridge Little League of San Jose.