Back-to-back solid pitching performances helped the Petaluma Police claim the title in the annual District 35 Little League Tournament of Champions in games played in Santa Rosa on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Petaluma Valley Major League entry closed out the single-elimination tournament with a 6-1 win over the Fort Bragg Giants behind a complete-game pitching performance of Joe Lampe in front of a large gathering at the Santa Rosa American field on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Police got a strong two-hit effort by Chance Torri to eliminate the Santa Rosa American entry, 7-2, at the Westside Little League facility.
Pitching was at a premium for both clubs in the championship game in the fourth consecutive day of competition. Lampe's effort was just the ticket for the Police as he limited Fort Bragg to a single opposite-field double in five innings. Finally, the Giants scored their only run on a pair of hits in the last frame, but Lampe closed it out with three consecutive strikeouts.
The Police right hander was economical with his pitches around the strike zone, and finished with 11 strikeouts in six innings of work. Every pitch appeared to be working until back-to-back hits by Ricky Diaz and Andrew Johnson plated a run for the Giants.
Petaluma scored four runs in the first two innings, and all of them came after two outs. Torri got the Police going in the top of the first with an RBI single.
The Police got a couple of runners aboard in the second frame in front of Lampe, who whacked a three-run homer over the center field fence to improve the margin to 4-0.
With coaches mixing their respective lineups in the fourth day of play, both teams wound up with a left handed middle infielder, but it didn't prevent some outstanding defensive plays.
Fort Bragg turned in a sparkling double play on a hard-hit ball up the middle with their portside second baseman making the pivot. It turned out to be the second twin killing for the Giants who got a terrific throw from center field by Diaz to nail a Police runner at the plate in the fifth inning.
Garrett Esponda turned in a fine effort for Petaluma on a ground ball up the middle, making a complete pivot and throwing out a runner at first as a left-handed shortstop.
Lampe also fielded his position well, throwing out four Giant runners at first base on ground balls back to the mound.
Petaluma scored single runs in the fifth and sixth frames on a sacrifice fly and a solo homer by Esponda. Estaban Bermudez doubled sharply in the fifth inning to set up the run.
The Police out-hit the Giants, 8-3, with Esponda and Lucus Proulx pounding out a pair of hits each.
Awards were handed out to both teams after the game. District 35 Commissioner Don Goodman was in attendance. It was the final game for the Police as a team before All-Star competition the following week.