FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield Pacific Little League 11- and 12-year-old All-Stars have a catchy team motto – “Who works harder than us? Nobody!” – and proved it on Thursday night.
For the third straight game, unbeaten Pacific won in extra innings, this time with a walk-off single from Cameron Martin that gave it an 11-10 win in seven innings over Napa American in the District 53 title game at Cordelia/Tri-Valley, giving the league its second straight district championship banner.
Mark Miranda led off the inning with a single that went through the legs of the left fielder and rolled to the fence, allowing Miranda to race all the way to third.
Martin then stepped into the box, and took a swing on his second pitch, sending the ball up the middle, plating Miranda with the game-winning run.
“I was so happy,” Martin said about the walk-off hit. “I was just waiting for a pitch to hit so we could win the game.”
Martin ended the game going 3 for 4 with a walk and two RBIs. CJ Laui also went 3 for 4 and had three RBIs.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Pacific manager Chris Gabbart said. “I’m so immensely proud of these boys and what they have achieved and how they have come together. I admire those guys.”
Not everything about the game was all smiles, however. In fact, Pacific had to battle from behind most of the contest.
Entering the bottom of the second inning with Pacific down 3-1, Robert Gabbart led off with a single, later advancing to second on a passed ball. Three batters and two outs later, Mark Carnasecca hit a double to right-center, scoring Gabbart. Martin then hit a single to left, plating Carnasecca and tying the game at 3-3.
Pacific then gave up four runs in the top of the third, only to answer back with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning. Sammy Meadows and Gabbart both scored on a single to left-center from Victor Martinez.
After Napa’s 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth, Pacific scored three runs of its own to take an 8-7 advantage in the bottom of the frame.
Napa American immediately rebounded to grab a 9-8 lead in the top of the fifth off a two-run home run from Troy Ghisletta that sailed over the left field fence.
Fairfield Pacific answered back with two runs of its own in the bottom of the fifth as Mateo Ponce and Martin both crossed the plate on separate wild pitches from Napa American, giving it a 10-9 advantage.
In the top of the sixth, Napa’s, Derrick Oved hit a solo-home run on a 3-2 pitch over the 200-foot sign in center field, tying the game at 10.
The very next batter, Casey Peck, then hit a single between third and the shortstop, making it look as if the momentum was on Napa’s side.
Pacific’s DJ Scott had other thoughts as he caught a fly ball in left off the bat of Oliva and threw a laser to first base, catching the leaning runner for the double play. Miranda then struck out the last batter to end the threat.
Despite the early runs given up by Pacific, Miranda kept his cool and battled through adversity, leaving it up to the offense to get the runs back.
“The way (Miranda) battled on the hill, it shows so much more character of what a guy has inside of him when he does not have his best stuff,” Chris Gabbart said.
Pacific opens the Section 1 tournament on Saturday at Larkspur at 11 a.m. against the winner of a game between District 35′s Petaluma Valley and District 4′s Walnut Creek or Alameda.
This title is Pacific team’s fourth in the 11-12 Division, having won in 1978, 2006 and 2013.
Gabbart told his team that they came in as a team, but walked away a band of brothers. And the familiar chant to Pacific’s fan base was how the players left the field with nobody having worked harder.