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Photo by Rodney Kitchen
Barstow's Cory Baluyut slides into third base in the District 49 Tournament at Lillian Park. Baluyut pitched a scoreless sixth inning in Tuesday's Section 8 win.

A title on the line

Barstow plays for Section 8 championship

SAN BERNARDINO • A scrappy group of Barstow 9 and 10 year-olds is still playing ball.

After going undefeated in the District 49 All-Star Tournament, the team from Barstow began the Section 8 tourney with their first loss. That put them in the loser’s bracket and gave them the tough assignment of having to play for the next four nights - and win - in order to take the Sectional title.

Mission nearly accomplished.

Barstow won on Sunday, and then on Monday beat Ken Hubbs Little League, to become the loser’s bracket champs. That left just them and Fontana Community, the winner’s bracket champ, still standing. Barstow, coming from the loser’s bracket, would have to beat Fontana twice to win the title.

On Tuesday night, Barstow put one of those games in the win column, hanging on to defeat Fontana, 4-3, at Newmark Stadium in San Bernardino.

“After the loss, we told the kids we can still get to the championship game. Anything is possible as long as we hit and field and keep our heads in the game,” said manager Steven Richardson. “The kids have a great attitude. Before (Tuesday night’s) game they were relaxed and laughing, the stress level is gone. They’re having a good time, and you play better when you’re happy.”

Fontana staked itself to the first lead, scoring two runs in the top of the third inning. That lead didn’t last long, however, as Barstow got both runs back in its half. Marcus Sanchez and Alano Ochoa stroked singles, Dawson Pitsor singled Sanchez in, and Ochoa scored on a passed ball.

Barstow pulled ahead with a pair of runs in the fourth. Jason Richardson got it rolling with a double, Sanchez hit his second single of the match, and Ochoa brought them both home with a long single.

That left Fontana trailing by two. They scored once in their final at-bat, but couldn’t get the tying run in.

Ochoa got the start and pitched the first 4.2 innings, giving up two runs while scattering seven hits, walking one and striking out seven. Pitsor finished up the fifth frame with a strikeout, and Cory Baluyut tossed the sixth, fanning two.

“We got 11 hits, but we also played some small ball; on two occasions we laid down bunts when we needed them,” said manager Richardson. “The small things can make a big difference.”

Now it all comes down to one game, with Barstow facing Fontana on Wednesday night with the Section 8 title on the line. Winner take all.

“When the All-Stars started, with the talent level we have, I knew we could make Sectionals. Everything after that is gravy, so it’s awesome just to be here,” said Richardson. “We just have to play our game now; avoid errors and hit like we know how.

“We’re making some great memories for the kids’ summer of ‘13. This is something they’ll never forget. They are the boys of summer.”

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