FAIRFIELD — It’s not often a team gets to defend a championship and seek revenge at the same time.
Fairfield Pacific Little League won the District 53 11- and 12-year-old All-Star tournament in 2013, though none of this year’s 11-12 squad played on that team.
However, It does feature 11 players who reached the championship game in the 10-11 Division only to lose Sonoma.
With schedule-making worthy of the NFL, Pacific opens the 2014 11-12 All-Star tournament against Sonoma on Thursday in St. Helena at 5:30 p.m.
“We’re all excited to open up against Sonoma,” Pacific manager Chris Gabbart said. “(First), it’s revenge. We want to get a little payback. This is the first time we get to play them full strength. Last year when we played them (after coming out of the loser’s bracket) we were way down in our pitching. This way we get to go out full force.”
And what about defending the 11-12 championship?
“I never thought of it,” Gabbart said. “They’re all 11 and 12, they don’t see past Friday. I don’t think they give it a second thought. I think this group puts pressure on themselves anyway. They’re all self-motivated.”
Gabbart, who coached Pacific’s Giants to a 25-0 season and the District 53 Tournament of Champions title, sees pitching as the key to success in all-star play.
And that’s not a good thing, according to the manager.
“We’re not that deep with pitchers,” he said. ” Hopefully, we’re deep with guys who can throw strikes and make guys put the ball in play.”
A victory on Thursday leads to another game on Friday with yet another on Saturday with a second win.
A setback on Thursday could mean a long climb through the loser’s bracket and games on as many as eight straight days.
“With the new format – three games in three days – I think it’s going to test anyone’s depth,” Gabbart said. “You may see football scores.”
Other 11-12 games involving area teams have Cordelia/Tri-Valley hosting Fairfield Atlantic on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to play Suisun American at Tri-Valley on Friday at 9 a.m.
In 10-11 play on Friday, Atlantic and Pacific meet at East Vallejo at 10 a.m., while Tri-Valley hosts Napa National at 3 p.m.
The 9-10 tournament opens on Friday with Pacific and Suisun American meeting in St. Helena at noon, Tri-Valley playing North Vallejo at East Vallejo at 1 p.m., and Atlantic taking on Napa American in St. Helena at 3 p.m.
Championship games are on July 10 with if necessary games on July 11, the 10-11 and 11-12 divisions at Tri-Valley, the 9-10s at St. Helena.
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr. To report results, call 425-4646, ext. 8.