It wasn't easy, but the Petaluma Valley Little League Majors team (11-12-year-olds) remained undefeated and moved into the winners' bracket of the District 35 Tournament Tuesday night, rallying in the seventh inning for a 7-5 victory over the Rincon Valley National League in a battle of unbeatens.

Petaluma Valley will play Santa Rosa American Thursday at 11 a.m. on the Valley home diamond at Murphy Field.

Petaluma Valley, playing the part of visitors at Murphy Tuesday night, rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh inning, and held on behind the clutch pitching of Cameron Downing as Rincon Valley attempted to make a comeback in the bottom of the extra inning.

Cole Shimek and Jack Gallagher started the winning rally with walks. Two outs later, Chance Torri rolled a single through the left side of the infield and Dominic Green bounced a ground rule double over the center field fence to drive in two more runs.

Trailing, 7-4, with only one at bat left, Rincon Valley stayed tough, getting a run on hits by Logan Freeman and Peter Brede before Downing struck out three straight to end the long game.

The ending overshadowed a well-played six-inning regulation game that featured long drives, clutch pitching and solid defense.

Petaluma Valley opened as if it wanted to end things early.

The game was only one batter old when Petaluma's Ethan Rapoport lasered a shot over the center field fence for a home run.

Five of the six following Valley batters reached base with Shimek, Andrew Simpson and Connor Klemenok all driving in runs to put the Petalumans in front, 4-0.

Valley starting pitcher JHe Lampe breezed through the first two innings before Logan Freeman came off the Rincon Valley bench to shoot a home run over the center field fence. An inning later, Nathan Capurro towered a fly well over the left-center field fence and it was a 4-2 game.

Rincon Valley made it three homers in as many innings when Peter Brede slugged a two-run shot to center in the fifth inning to tie the game at 4-4.

That was the way things remained until the Valley finally rallied in the seventh.

Downing pitched three strong innings for the Valley, striking out six, including three to close things out in the seventh inning.

Defensive play of the game was a running back-to-the-infield grab of a soft line drive by Valley second baseman Klemenok in the third inning.

The win was the third straight for the Valley, an earlier 18-0 winner over Mark West and 12-1 victor over Cloverdale.

Petaluma American

The Petaluma American League started the tournament in impressive fashion stopping Sebastopol, 7-4.

Tony Giono and Joey Loveless both cleared the fence with home run bombs to highlight the win. Loveless settled down after a rocky first inning to pitch four strong innings for the Americans. He gave up three runs on three hits, walking just one.

The Americans backed their pitchers with some strong defense, with Nate Busse in left field and Giono in center both making outstanding catches.

Sebastopol swiped a run on a double steal in the top of the first inning, but the Americans came right back in the bottom of the frame, scoring three runs on a lead-off single by Broc Burleson followed by five walks and a succession of wild pitches.

Giono shot a home run over the left-field fence to start the third inning and a Loveless single led to another run to put the Americans up, 5-1,

Sebastopol, however, proved tenacious and added two runs in the fourth and another in the fifth to pull to within a run at 5-4, before the Petalumans tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the fifth, getting one on Loveless' long drive over the left-field fence and another on a clutch hit by Owen Hill.

The Americans then slipped into the losers' bracket with a 12-5 loss to Rincon Valley National, before blasting its way back with a 27-0 win over Mark West.

The Americans continued to climb back up Tuesday with a 10-1 victory over Sebastopol and were to play Fort Bragg Wednesday.

Results of that game were not available at press time.

Petaluma National

Petaluma National started its tournament right, slamming Westside Little League, 18-2, in a game that lasted just four innings due to the 10-run rule.

The Nationals came out swinging, scoring five runs in the bottom of the first inning with doubles coming from Whitaker Ellis and Reno Nalducci and singles by Nick Siembleda, Ritchie Norman, Sam Jacobs and Cole Powers. The Nationals stayed hot in the second inning when Sam Renstrom launched a titanic shot into the parking lot beyond the let field fence that threatened car windshields, but fortunately hit the pavement. After two innings the Nationals led, 8-0.

Petaluma put the game away in the third inning with a 10-run rally highlighted by back-to-back homers by Ellis and Powers.

An exciting back-and-forth game reached the sixth and final inning with Petaluma leading, 11-9. The Nationals ran out of steam in the sixth inning when Santa Rosa scored six runs for a 17-13 victory.

Petaluma National bounced right back to batter El Molino, 13-1, in a 3 1/2-inning game.

The Nationals shot three home runs over the Petaluma American Little League fence, including a grand slam y leadoff hitter Garrett Freitas. Freitas' slam, a long fly over the right center field fence highlighted a nine-run second inning that decided the contest.

Jacob Tuchband and Ellis lined shots over the fence in a four-run third inning that gave the Nationals significant enough margin to end the game via the 10-run rule after El Molino had batted in the fourth inning.

Facing a long climb back through the losers' bracket, their hurlers' pitch count was a top priority for the Nationals' coaching staff and they used three hurlers with equal effectiveness. Starter Renstrom and follow-up hurlers Nick Siembieda and Reno Nalducci recorded every out save two via strikeouts.

Renstrom, who gave up El Molino's only run and one of the two Forestville team's hits in the first inning, struck out four in an inning and a third of effort. Siembieda had three whiffs among the six batters he faced. Nalducci faced four batters, struck out three and caught a pop-up off the bat of the fourth.

The end for the Nationals came in a 9-6 loss to Ukiah Tuesday night.