SAN JOSE, Calif. – Three pitchers combined to hold powerful Hawaii to one run and three hits as the Snow Canyon Little League juniors (ages 14-15) stunned Hawaii 2-1 in the opening round of the West Regional Monday in California.
Eight teams are gathered in San Jose for the Junior League Baseball Regional with hopes of making it to the JLB World Series in mid-August in Taylor, Mich. The Snow Canyon team, representing Utah, is there with teams from Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Northern California, Southern California and New Mexico.
The boys from Santa Clara started things off right, with the tight win over Hawaii, which won the West regional last summer. Cam Terry, Josh Akins and Ethan Anderson each pitched 2 1/3 innings and held Hawaii to a single run in the six-inning contest.
“We pitched awesome,” said Snow Canyon Junior Little League coach Ben Shakespeare. “They played defense and played as good as they can play. It was a defensive battle.”
Hawaii got its lone run in the top of the first when Terry hit leadoff hitter Caleb Lomavita. After a bunt, the Hawaii speedster came around to score on a slow grounder by teammate Reef Rentiquiano.
The score stayed 1-0 until the bottom of the fourth. That’s when Tanner Truman led off with a lined single to left. He went to second on a balk by Hawaii pitcher Dayton Robinson and Robinson gave him third base on another balk. Terry then singled him home with a bloop hit to center field to tie the game at 1-1.
Snow Canyon took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, pinch hitter Sanders Esplin drew a walk. He went to second on a passed ball and advanced to third on a single by Jackson Ence. That’s when SC coach Shakespeare decided to roll the dice, calling for a double steal.
Ence took off for second and as soon as the throw went to second, Esplin raced home with the go-ahead run.
“Coach Lonnie Truman said this might be the perfect spot for a delayed steal,” Shakespeare said. “He started Jackson and the minute they threw down to second, Sanders just took off. He’s just a lightning bolt out there and by the time they were able to get the ball back home, he had scored the run.”
Anderson mowed Hawaii down the rest of the way. The Hawaiians got a runner on in the seventh, but Snow Canyon catcher Braxton Hickman threw the runner out trying to steal second base. Anderson retired the next two batters to end the game.
Snow Canyon will play again Tuesday, with an 11 a.m. (PST) matchup vs. Southern California.
“Anybody that knows – Southern Cal and Hawaii are generally the top two teams,” Shakespeare said. “It’s a tough draw … to turn right around and have to face Southern California. It’s a tough draw, but if the kids play like they did today … we’ll be just fine.”
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