LITTLE LEAGUE: Majors All-Stars through to regional final

CJ Del Real beats the throw home. Photo by: Kelly Cox

Locals advance past Alaska in semifinals, sit one win shy of
Little League World Series berth
The Gilroy Little League softball Majors All-Stars are doing their best to chase down history in trying to become the first Gilroy Majors team to get into the Little League World Series since 2007.

Knotted 5-5 in the bottom of the fifth, Maria Sandoval delivered a hit to center field, scoring Jel Reyes and Michaela Decker for two of three ever-so-important runs in the inning as the Gilroy Little League softball Majors All-Stars survived a back-and-forth semifinals tilt 8-5 against Alaska at the Western Regional Tournament on Thursday in San Bernardino.

Sandoval went 2-for-3 with four RBI, Pati Soria had a pair of hits and CJ Del Real, Reyes, Decker and Nikki Villanueva each distributed base hits in the game.

The victory, which puts the locals into tonight’s championship game one win away from a berth into the World Series, is the All-Stars fifth of the tournament, and third in three days, including a come-from-behind 7-3 win over Washington on Wednesday to clinch the No. 1 seed out of Pool A. Alaska earned the No. 2-seed in Pool B.

The whirlwind affair included four lead changes and three ties – and a combined six errors, which made the action top-notch entertainment.

Manager George Sandoval has seen a lot in his 20-plus years of coaching, and though Thursday’s game wasn’t the cleanest, he knows a win is a win and that’s all that matters at this point.

“There’s no tomorrow without today, so we will take it,” Sandoval said. “Our defense is what usually keeps us in games. We had a few errors tonight, but it is what it is. The girls kept their heads up and came back.”

Gilroy popped ahead 2-0 after one inning, using two errors and an RBI-single from Del Real to claim the lead.

Alaska matched, and did Gilroy one better in the third, manufacturing three.

As they did against Washington, they overcame the deficit as soon as possible, retaking the lead in the bottom half of the frame. Gilroy tallied two unearned runs via Sandoval’s first two-RBI hit of the afternoon, plating Soria and Del Real.

After shutting down Alaska in the top of the fifth, Gilroy countered with the three-run inning.

Alexis Conlon pitched the final four innings to notch the win, moving to 3-0 for the tournament.

The All-Stars have now rattled off 13 straight victories during their postseason run. The magic number is 14 and tonight Gilroy can reach it.

“That’s a good number too,” George Sandoval said. “I don’t like odd numbers. It’s kind of a superstitious thing. I love even numbers though.”

The championship game is slated for a 6 p.m. start from Houghton Stadium.

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