The Athletics of Cen-Cal Tire World are the 2019 Pony Division champs of Merced Youth Baseball.
The A’s outlasted the Angels last Saturday morning after Tristyn Hickey’s two-run homer in the 7th and final inning, followed by some solid pitching by Josh Greer Bartley to finish the game off.
The final score was an incredible 23-21.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said Ralph Arceo, the A’s coach. “The Angels deserve a lot of credit, and they have our respect. They played their butts off. But we put on a great team effort. No one person won this thing. We all came together as a team.”
Despite the loss, the Angels coach gathered his players together before they left the field and praised them for playing like champions the entire season.
“Nobody thought we would be here today,” Dave Allen said. “We are the team with the youngest players. … You are champions.”
The Pony division is the last stage of Merced Youth Baseball before many of the kids go into high school sports. Players are typically ages 13 and 14.
The big game started out on the evening of Monday, July 29, at the Sports Complex in south Merced. Both teams battled back and forth with heavy hitting, lots of scoring and long innings. They managed to get to the bottom of the sixth inning when the lights went out.
The stadium lights are on timers, and youth baseball games can only go for so long. Since it was the championship game, league officials postponed the action to Friday, Aug. 2, and then later re-scheduled for Saturday morning, Aug. 3.
The continued play of the 6th inning, started with the Angels at bat, with runners at first base and third base, and two outs. The score was 19-18 in favor of the A’s.
The crowd got going right away as Angels slugger Ryan Middleton hit a leadoff double, scoring two runs.
The A’s were able to escape the 6th with being only one run behind.
In the top of the 7th and final inning, the A’s came out swinging. Braddik “Speedy” Williams got a single, but as his nickname suggests, he ended up making it to third base, and then scoring after an unforced error by the Angels in the infield.
However, it was Tristyn Hickey who opened the door to victory when he crushed a fastball way past the outfielders, and scored on a 2-run homer. The A’s ended up scoring four runs before the Angels batters were up for what would be their last appearance at the plate.
The score was 23-20.
The A’s sent out Josh Greer Bartley — also known as “Bear” — to pitch. The Bear, already known in the league for his power hitting, was set up for legendary status if he could hold off the Angels.
Incredible, the Bear struck out two Angels, before he started to give up some hits, and eventually a score. Play became tense, with the score at 23-21 and two outs, but the A’s eventually managed an infield ground ball and a throw to first to capture the championship.