Area champion Leghorns open American Legion State Tournament Saturday

After winning Area Tournament, Petalumans ready for the next step.|

Petaluma’s Leghorns take the next step in what they hope is a journey to Shelby, North Carolina and the American Legion World Series Saturday.

The Leghorns will play the Oceanside Vipers at 9 a.m. at Buchanan High School in Clovis in the first game of the California State Championship Tournament. Other teams in the tournament are the Atwater/Merced Yammers, Long Beach Bruins, Napa Valley Baseball Club and the Patrick Henry High School Trojans.

Games continue Sunday with the championship game Monday at noon.

Petaluma goes into the tournament riding an 11-game winning streak and the championship of the Area Tournament played last week in Fairfield. The Leghorns claimed the Area title with a 19-9 win over Napa in the championship game.

Petaluma opens the tournament with all its pitchers – Bryce Cox, Richie Kingsborough, Mario Taormina, Evan Johnson and Drew Haskins – eligible to pitch in the opening game. During the Area Tournament Casa Grande’s Jake McCoy was lights out as a relief pitcher. “We just have to map out how we are going to use them,” Petaluma Coach Spencer Finkbohner said.

Behind the plate the Leghorns have the best of both Petaluma worlds with Mason Cox from Casa Grande and Logan Fiene from Petaluma High. Peter Nebb from San Marin High School in Novato is in reserve.

Two of the hottest Leghorn hitters during the playoff run have been second baseman Garret Lewis from Petaluma High and Zane Bennet from Casa Grande. Lewis doubled in the only run in Petaluma’s crucial 1-0 win over Fairfield in the Area Tournament while Bennet belted a triple.

Maria Carrillo’s Gabe Henschel has been a model of defensive consistency, anchoring the infield at shortstop.

Petaluma’s Mario Zarco, Casa Grande’s Lucas Schaffer, McCoy and Santa Rosa Junior College’s Nick Taormina have brought solid bats to the outfield and wherever needed.

Bryce Cannon from Maria Carrillo, Jake Walton from Montgomery and Chase Dienhart from Montgomery have also been contributors during the Leghorn run to State.

“We are excited to see what the future holds for our team,” said Finkbohner. “We hope to do well at state and go on to represent California at Regionals.”

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