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Nationals are brightest area stars

The Little League District 35 Tournament has come and gone, and with it a chance to see most of our elite Little Leaguers from 8 to 12 years old. These are the future of not only baseball, but most sports in our high schools. The best athletes generally play Little League before becoming more focused on different sports as they head toward their teen years.

And, most 12 and unders (actually 13 by the time many finish their Little League careers) still play Little League. As they get a little older, many of the best young athletes begin to switch to travel teams. This is evident by the lack of interest in Little League’s junior and senior programs. For most pre-teens, Little League is still the organization of choice.

At first glance, this year’s District 35 tournaments — one for 8-10s, 9-11s and Majors (10-12s) was not Petaluma’s most successful. We started out with nine teams, and had only one district winner, the Petaluma National League’s Major League team. However, we did have two other teams reach the finals. The Petaluma Nationals fought their way back through the losers’ bracket to reach the 10-year-old championship game and the Nationals’ 11s had the upper hand in their tournament until they were beaten twice in the finals by Santa Rosa American Little League.

Something should be noted about the Petaluma American Major League team that got knocked into the losers’ bracket in its second game and then battled back, winning four straight before being eliminated. They ended up playing for seven straight games. The losers’ bracket is a dark hole from which few escape.

One team that almost made it out was the Nationals’ 10-year-olds. They got knocked into the pit in their first game and then won five in a row to reach the championship game before they were edged by champion Rincon Valley, 11-10.

Congratulations are certainly due the Nationals’ Major League championship team. This is written prior to their appearance in the Section Tournament so I can slip out of town for a few days. I won’t divulge where I’m heading, but wherever I go, whatever I do will stay there.

Regardless of how the Nationals’ fare in Vacaville, they were certainly dominant in district. From lead-off batter Raime Dayton to the substitutes, the Nationals smacked the stitches off baseballs. I thought going into the tournament that the Valley might be the favorite to win district, but the truth is that the Nationals were the class of the affair.

Remember these names: Raime Dayton, Cole Landry, Carl Schmidt, Ben Diaz, David Wood, Jacob Haugen, George Marzo. It won’t be too long before you will see their names on high school lineup cards.

I did have one personal disappointment during the District 35 Tournament. I didn’t get a very good sample of snack bar food. For a number of reasons, I was forced to keep dinning simple — cheeseburgers and hot dogs.

From what I did consume, the best of the bunch was the cheeseburger I purchased at the National League snack bar at Carter Field. It was juicy, cheesey and all the necessary condiments were available.

It was a good summer for the Petaluma Nationals — a champion, two seconds and the best cheeseburger.

(Contact John Jackson at johnie.jackson@arguscourier.com)