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National Elevens come close but fall twice in district finals

Santa Rosa jumped on Petaluma National pitching in the early going for the second consecutive game and the Americans pinned a 8-3 defeat on the local team at Lucchesi Park on Monday to claim the District 35 Little League crown in the 9-11 bracket. It took the Americans a few more games to get the job done as they battled back from a loss to Petaluma earlier in the double-elimination tournament.

The American 11’s now move on to compete in Section l play beginning on Saturday at the Rincon Valley Little League complex in Santa Rosa. Petaluma ends its season after finishing 3-2 in the tourney.

Following its big first inning rally, Santa Rosa turned the game over to pitcher Sam Lawson who led them the rest of the way with a steady effort. Lawson, who throws with a distinctive cross body delivery, gave up 10 hits to the Nationals, but consistently avoided trouble by getting fly ball outs. Nine putouts were recorded by the American outfield.

Petaluma starter Henry Ellis was the victim of the first-inning rally on sharply hit balls that found gaps in the National defense. Ellis gave way to reliever Eli Sullivan who pitched into the third inning.

Jackie Palmer was called on in the middle of the third inning, and got through a difficult frame after inheriting two runners. Palmer pitched a solid game, and gave up only two runs the rest of the game.

The Nationals scored all of their runs on balls that left the yard. Palmer continued his lusty hitting with a long solo blast in the first inning to get Petaluma on the board.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Petaluma pinch hitter Leo Salvato got into one and drove it over the fence for two runs. Salvato’s blast came after a long delay in which a National runner was called out for batting out of order.

Santa Rosa backed Lawson with some good defense throughout the game. The Americans made all the plays, and didn’t allow any extra base runners with fielding miscues.

First baseman Nolan Frost and teammate Sam Valenti had three hits each at the top of the American lineup. Sullivan had a pair of hits for the National club.

Sunday stumble

Santa Rosa American took all the energy from the Petaluma Nationals with a six-run explosion in the top of the first inning, and the visitors forced the sudden death game in the 11’s division with a 13-6 win. Twelve batters paraded to the box against a pair of frustrated Petaluma pitchers in the big inning.

The first two batters in the Santa Rosa lineup both cranked out a couple of hits each as the hard-hit balls kept on coming.

The stunned Nationals tried to keep the game close against tough right hander Jack Lazark, but four strikeouts and a double play hindered their efforts.

A run-scoring single by Kade Reavis was the biggest hit for the Nationals until Lazark had to exit on the pitch count rule. Palmer poled a three-run homer over the left field fence against a relief pitcher to close the gap to 11-6, but that was as close as the game got.

Petaluma manager Jon Kelly rotated six pitchers to keep the pitch count down, but his team could not kept up with the offensive assault by Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa got two home runs in the victory. One was by the skilled Lazark in the top of the fifth inning. The other four-master was struck by Nolan Frost over the right field fence.

Ellis of the Nationals continued his strong play in the playoffs by converting a double play at second base after catching a line drive in short right field.

The winning Santa Rosa club out-hit Petaluma, 10-4, in the one-sided contest.