FAIRFIELD — The game was over in six innings, but there was extra time until a final verdict was announced.
At first glance, the winner of the 10- and 11- All-Stars Game was East Vallejo over Fairfield Pacific, 6-2, at Cordelia/Tri-Valley Little League, Wednesday, but a protest from Fairfield Pacific prolonged the decision that inevitably went East Vallejo’s way.
After the final out of the top of the sixth, gloves and caps from East Vallejo players were spread among the field, but a protest from Fairfield Pacific manager Mike Medeiros put a halt to the celebration.
Medeiros protested that one of East Vallejo’s players did not have an at-bat, which made coaches, players and families wonder what was going on for more than 15 minutes.
CTVLL President and Tournament Director Mike Coan made a call to Little League International in San Bernardino, which went to Williamsport in Pennsylvania.
According to Coan, the rule is: “When you have 13 players, you have to have a minimum of one at-bat. If you have 12 players, you have to have a minimum of six outs in the field and one at-bat.”
East Vallejo’s player came in for six defensive outs, but was standing on deck in the bottom of the fifth, never making an appearance at the plate. The ruling ended up being that East Vallejo’s manager would be suspended for two games, but the victory stood.
“I did not expect them to change the outcome of the game, but there are rules for a reason,” Medeiros said. “Everyone has to play by the rules and our rule is everyone has to hit once. I just wanted to be fair to our players.”
Although Fairfield Pacific was eliminated, it was really only one inning that hurt as it gave up six runs on six hits in the top of the first inning. Only two hits were given up after that, in five scoreless innings. Six of East Vallejo’s first seven batters scored a run, each collecting singles.
Fairfield Pacific’s two runs came in the top of the sixth, beginning with a lead-off double from Alec Merodio, who advanced to third on a passed ball in the next at-bat.
With one out, Roberto Hernandez hit a chopper towards the mound, bouncing off East Vallejo pitcher Dylan Hewitt’s glove, plating Merodio. Logan Hadrava then doubled to right-center, advancing Hewitt to third. Justin Duff then hit into a 4-3 fielders choice, scoring Hadrava.
“I like the way the kids battled and they did not lose sight of the game even after that first inning,” Medeiros said. “They battled to the very end.”
Battled they did.
In the top of the second, although Fairfield Pacific didn’t score, Hernandez and Hadrava each saw eight pitches before getting out, each fouling off the last four. Duff drew a full-count which eventually led to a walk.
East Vallejo starter Jarius Hurd threw 28 pitches in the top of the second, reaching his maximum pitch-count of 85 after 5 2-3 innings. Hurd only allowed three hits while striking out 10 batters – seven of which were looking.
Medeiros was still proud of how his team played throughout the tournament.
“Last year, it was two games-and-out,” the coach said. “We hit the ball well, and with the exception of probably three innings in the entire tournament, I thought we played extremely well.”
On Tuesday, Fairfield Pacific scattered 12 hits in four innings to defeat Napa American 13-2.
Jeshua Pitcher and Roberto Hernandez led the offense with three and two hits, respectively – each with a double.