Los Banos makes championship game of Atwater tournament

dwitte@losbanosenterprise.comApril 25, 2014 

— Round Three of the Los Banos-Pacheco series went, as the first two did, to Los Banos in the Tigers’ 4-0 victory Wednesday in pool play at the Fran Oneto Atwater-Winton Lions Tournament at Memorial Ballpark in Atwater.

The victory, combined with an 8-0 St. Mary’s (Albany) loss to Minarets (O’Neals) earlier in the day, catapulted Los Banos into the tournament championship Thursday against host Atwater. Results were unavailable at press time.

Los Banos pitcher Brevin Welch went the distance against Pacheco for a six-hit shutout, striking out 10 batters and surviving with runners in scoring position in every inning except the fifth and the seventh.

“That’s big. Coming into it, we knew we only could give up one run to get to the championship,” Los Banos coach Pat Fuentes said. “He knew what was at stake, we didn’t even have to tell him, but I think inside the dugout they knew what was going on, and he just kind of bore down. We kept asking him if he was all right, and he kept saying, ‘You’re not pulling me out.’ 

Pacheco catcher Kenneth Remulla singled and stole second in the first inning, but a strikeout stranded him. Los Banos got enough runs in the top of the second, putting three across on one hit (an infield single by Vincenzo Greco), two walks, two errors and a D.J. Lomeli sacrifice fly.

Pacheco threatened again the next two innings, loading the bases in the second before Welch induced a fly ball and again in the third before Welch got a strikeout on a breaking ball.

“(The plan) was basically just to throw strikes and let my defense work for me,” Welch said. “I have a lot of trust in these guys right here, I’ve played with them for a long time, so I tried not to do too much, just hit my spots, keep the ball down, get ahead in the count, that kind of stuff.”

Pacheco put runners on second and third in the fourth with one out before Welch struck out two to once again get out of a jam. Los Banos put one more on the board, with Greco again the catalyst. He reached on an error and later stole home when Tyler Wilson got himself into a pickle between first and second.

Pacheco threatened one last time in the sixth and walked away empty-handed thanks to third baseman Lomeli, playing third since Christian Garnica went out for an appendectomy. With Pacheco’s Cade Lewis on third, Lomeli made a decision on a ground ball and threw him out at home, then started a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Mark Garcia.

“That was a real important thing, because the first two innings I’d get two outs and then walk a couple of guys, base hit here, next thing you know I have runner on first and second, or bases loaded,” Welch said. “To see that come up, I knew that was going to be a quick inning right there, it kind of uplifted me a little bit, got a little adrenaline going, little more excitement.”

The two plays impressed Fuentes as well.

“D.J., two great plays. Garnica goes out, and I just kind of have to throw D.J. there,” the first-year coach said. “The first play he made? Great instinct. Nice out, gets the guy at home, next ball hit to him he turns two, and that’s what we need if we want to get to where we’re going to be, is we need guys who are going to step up when I call on them, and who knows where it’s going to be?”

Los Banos defeated Minarets 13-7 on Monday, the lost 2-1 to St. Mary’s on Tuesday. LB, St. Mary’s and Minarets all finished 2-1 in pool play, but Los Banos allowed nine runs to St. Mary’s’ 11 and Minarets’ 13, squeaking into the championship game on the tiebreaker.

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