The Majors matchup features two Gilroy teams
Facing elimination, a big blast from Aiden Goicovich provided the punch the Gilroy Little League Majors baseball National All-Stars needed to keep their postseason afloat against a familiar foe, the GLL American All-Stars, in the opposite dugout.
Goicovich’s grand slam in the top of the fourth inning opened up a 6-2 lead for the Nationals in an eventual 8-4 victory Tuesday night, forcing a winner-take-all scenario for the District 59 championship tonight back at Reid-Hillview fields in San Jose.
“I wanted to help out as much as I could,” Goicovich said of his four-run home run, which was one of three round-trippers in the game.
Tiago Costa and Anthonee Bartholic, who was 3-for-3, had the home runs for the Americans.
Bartholic’s, a solo shot, came in the bottom of the third with his team trailing 2-0. Costa contributed his two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth after the Nationals increased their lead to 8-2 in the top half of the frame.
“I thought it was just a pop-fly, but it kept going,” Costa said.
The Americans had a total of six hits for the day, while the Nationals produced seven. The execution on defense ended up the defining factor for both teams, though, as the Americans had four errors and Nationals skimmed by with one.
“It’s again, hats off to the other team. They came out and competed and beat us today,” American manager Rick Cook said. “We just need to play better defense. We had too many errors today. Errors turn into runs and, without those, it may have been a totally different ball game. It may have been a totally different outcome.”
The Nationals came out ready to play at the start, capitalizing on three errors to score two runs in the top of the first inning.
The Americans tied it in the third before Goicovich’s grand slam spaced out the two teams once again.
“It felt really good, I felt happy for him and that we had the lead,” starting pitcher Dylan McPhillips said of his teammate’s four-bagger.
McPhillips held down the mound for the Nationals with nine strikeouts.
Goicovich had five RBI and both Larry Chacon and Preston Longaker had one RBI each.
The two teams go at it again tonight to decide the championship.
“I like our chances,” Nationals manager Jason Krulee said. They’re a good team. They’ve got some good pitchers on the mound tomorrow, but all of our guys can hit, so we’re ready to bring it.”
As for the Americans, Cook remained optimistic.
“If they come out better defensively they will take care of themselves,” he said. “But if they come out and play like they did today it’s gonna be a tough game for them tomorrow.”
Whichever team prevails, it will be the first GLL Majors team since 1991 to win the district, GLL director Jeff Sosa said.
First pitch is slated for 5:30 p.m.
— The Juniors baseball All-Stars have rallied all the way back from an opening-game loss to sit one game shy of a district title. The Juniors defeated Evergreen on Tuesday to force a deciding contest, which is slated for tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Milpitas Sports Complex.
— Also in a championship final tonight is the boys 11-year-olds managed by Jon Castro. The locals play Evergreen, which must win twice to steal the crown away from Gilroy.
Sports Editor Josh Weaver contributed to this report