When it comes to picking favorites to make a run at the 11u Elite Triple Crown World Series, you might want to stick to teams with the sticks.
The Chino Hills Thunder (CA) rang up 34 runs in three pool play games (tied for second-most), closing Thursday's action with a 10-3 victory over Twelve Gold (TX) that saw them score eight runs in the final three innings. The Thunder ultimately claimed the No. 3 seed in the upcoming double-elim tournament, which begins Friday for them with a first-round bye.
Isaac Fanoga had two hits and three RBI against Twelve Gold; Roman Lopez threw three innings of drama-free relief and added two RBI, while leadoff hitter Chase Davidson reached base three times, scoring once and driving in a run.
"The boys competed better; we had better at-bats from perspective, with the boys taking more pitches. forcing the kids to take a strike," said Thunder coach Rene Lopez. "Our ultimate goal is to win it; we don't look ahead, and we always go game-to-game and will not overlook our opponent. But at the end of the day, we came out here with the goal to actually win it.
"Isaac has just been on fire for us the past two, three games. He's been taking quality at-bats, and single-handedly won Game 1 for us, with a big double and triple."
Three errors in the bottom of the first by the Thunder opened the door for Twelve Gold to score twice, but the Gold managed just two hits the rest of the way. Fanoga's crucial hit came in the three-run fourth for the Thunder, and they pushed four more across in the sixth on six consecutive two-out hits. Jerry Mendoza (who reached base three times and scored three runs) got on board with a double, followed by singles from Justin Lopez, Roman Lopez, Fanoga, Brady Stull and Frank Brazil.
"I just needed to put the ball on the right side to score those runs. This was more fun, in our first game we were hitting for about 40 minutes before the other team got on the field," Fanoga said. "Roman pitched three really good innings, hardly any hits, and for us, we just needed to not make any more errors."
"Our coaches told us to pick it up; we all started hitting and making better plays," Roman Lopez added. "I was just trying to throw strikes, not walk people, and make them put the ball in play so my defense could help me out."
Blaine Bullard reached base twice and scored a run for Twelve Gold; Chris Sampson doubled and had an RBI, and Carson Sydnor added a single and a run.