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.