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Coming up one game short
Barstow 9-10s bested by Fontana
SAN BERNARDINO • It was quite a ride for the Barstow 9-10 All-Stars, but it came to an end on Wednesday night.
Barstow reached the championship game of the Section 8 All-Star Tournament. Coming through the loser’s bracket made it a tough climb, but the boys handed a defeat to winner’s bracket champ Fontana Community on Tuesday night, forcing a one-game playoff for the title. Barstow took an early lead, but Fontana staged a five-run third, and went on to a 10-3 victory at Newmark Stadium in San Bernardino.
That third inning has haunted the 9-10s throughout All-Star play. It seems that if the team could get past it unscathed, it was in good shape for a win, but it couldn’t get past that third frame without too much damage on Wednesday.
“That third frame bit us again,” said Barstow manager Steven Richardson. “We got those third-inning jitters and when we gave up those runs, you could just see the kids get deflated.”
The Fontana bats were quiet over the first two innings. Starting pitcher Travis McCall faced only four batters in each frame, allowing a single then striking out the side in the second.
Visiting Barstow scored in the top of the first to stake themselves to an early edge. Marcus Sanchez singled and stole second, and was singled in by Alano Ochoa. In the second, there were two more runs scored, with the rally kicked off by an Alex Romero single. McCall was hit by a pitch, and Caden Brogan moved both runners up with a fly to left. That was followed by RBI singles by Corry Baluyut and Jason Richardson, making it a 3-0 Barstow lead in the third.
Those were the only runs Barstow would get, however. They went quietly in the third and fourth, and threatened in the fifth, but came up empty.
“In the third and fourth we didn’t threaten at all, that kinda hurt,” said Richardson. “And when we hit the ball, they played very good defense. They made a couple of amazing catches; what are you going to do when you don’t get the breaks?”
Barstow displayed a potent offense over the course of the All-Star tournies, which the numbers bear out. Leading the way was Richardson, who swung the bat for a .630 average over the nine games. He smacked 12 singles and five doubles, drove in 11 runs and scored 14, and didn’t strike out once. Sanchez was right behind with a .600 average, 13 singles, five doubles and nine RBI, while Romero batted .550 and hit the team’s only home run. Ochoa and Dawson Pitsor both hit .500.
Barstow also did well on the mound. Ochoa pitched nine innings and finished with a 1.33 ERA, striking out 14 and walking just three. Pitsor sported a 2.40 ERA over five innings pitched, while Sanchez struck out 15 and walked five over 12 innings.
Barstow finished All-Star play with a 7-2 record. The team swept through the District 49 tournament to secure the title.
“I’m happy and proud to be these kids’ manager. They went farther than any 9-10 Barstow team ever has, just one game away from a sectional championship,” said Richardson. “We learned a lot; we got stronger and wiser, learned to have a short memory, to let our mistakes go and start fresh the next game. I have every intention of going this far, and further, next year.”
The manager was also thankful for all the support his team received, not only in the District Tournament, which was held at Lillian Park, but in the Section 8 tourney, held in San Bernardino.
“I thank everyone that came to see us, we had so much support. So many longtime Barstow baseball fans made the trip to San Bernardino to support us,” Richardson said. “Fontana was only 20 minutes away, but we had a bigger rooting section. It was really remarkable.”
And the manager of course gave credit to his players, whom he came to think of as his own kids.
“All 12 players gave an absolute team effort, everybody did their part. Not everyone is going to hit .800, but they can all be proud of what they did,” said Richardson. “It’s been an adventure, a fun six weeks with the kids. This experience makes them not only better players, but taught them some life lessons, too. They learned that you don’t give up just because things don’t go your way, you work harder.
“We’re planning a party for the kids, but we’re already looking ahead to next year. Divisionals is the carrot right now, that’s our next step. But the kids accomplished so much. They brought the town together in a way that surpassed baseball. Every one of them has great potential if they stick with it and stay focused. Their futures are so bright.”