The Giants and Dodgers don’t play again until Aug. 13, but Southern California claimed early bragging rights over Northern California in West Region Little League baseball action on Sunday night at Houghton Stadium.
The team from Park View LL of Chula Vista defeated Tri City LL of Rocklin 16-8 on the opening day of the annual tournament, which is one step removed from the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Michael Rodriguez hit three home runs and drove in seven runs and Jose Mendoza homered twice to lead SoCal, which plays Nevada on Monday at 4:30 p.m. as the tourney continues.
Despite SoCal’s overall dominance, it was NorCal that started with a bang.
Nathan Erickson lined a solo home run down the left-field line to put the team from Rocklin ahead 1-0. Two batters later, Adam Van Der Kamp lined a single to right to drive in a runner from second base and NorCal led 2-0.
SoCal struck for one run in the top of the second inning, taking advantage of a one-out walk and a two-out single to center by Atticus Gates that was followed on the same play by a two-base outfield error.
The team from Park View LL of Chula Vista seized the lead for good in the third inning following a lead-off single by Jordan Bleisch. Michael Rodriguez, on a 1-2 pitch from NorCal starter Aiden Weissenberg-Frost, launched a home run to left to make it 3-2 and added a bat flip to excite the partisan SoCal crowd even further. As if that weren’t enough, Mendoza followed with a home run to right field off NorCal reliever Gavin Correira to give SoCal a 4-2 lead.
Michael Rodriguez and Mendoza repeated their back-to-back heroics later in the game, as well.
NorCal closed to within one run in the bottom of the third inning when Weissenberg-Frost hit a mammoth home run over a row of easy-ups beyond the left-field fence. And, yes, he added a bat flip as well.
But SoCal came back, in the fourth, on a run-scoring triple by Ivan Rodriguez Jr. and another long home run to left by Michael Rodriguez, driving in two runs to make it 7-3. Not content, Mendoza again followed Rodriguez with a solo home run to boost SoCal’s lead to five runs.
SoCal added later another run on a wild pitch to increase its lead to 9-3.
SoCal survived an anxious moment in the bottom of the fourth inning after reliever Rodriguez walked in two NorCal runners to make it 9-5. NorCal had the tying run at the plate with the bases loaded when Rodriguez struck out the slugging Weissenberg-Frost on three pitches to end the inning.
SoCal blew the game open in the top of the seventh by scoring seven runs, paced by Michael Rodriguez’s third homer – a grand slam to center that boosted his team’s lead to 11. Even NorCal reliever Ben Tipper, who surrendered the blast, had to give Rodriguez a fist bump after that blast.
In earlier games, Hawaii defeated Arizona 7-3, Alaska edged Oregon 2-1 and Idaho downed Washington 16-6 in five innings.