Going, going … gone.
Baseball’s iconic words were once again befitting as Davis American’s leadoff slugger Josh Catacutan sent a deep fly ball over the fence to set the tone in an all-Davis 10-11 matchup against the hometown National All-Star squad on Thursday night.
The home run came just three pitches into the bottom of the first inning of DALL’s 14-1 victory over DNLL at Camarena Park in Woodland. It also made one coach, and father, extremely proud.
“That’s a sight you dream of seeing from the time they’re in T-ball,” said AL mentor Jessie Catacutan, Josh’s dad. “He didn’t hit a home run during the regular season on a 175-foot fence, and this is 205, so go figure.”
This contest was part of the Little League District 64 tournament’s second round. Both of the local squads advanced by winning Wednesday contests — the Americans against Woodland National (17-0) and the Nationals against Dixon (13-3).
Just as the weather is heating up, so, too, is the tournament, as the DNLL squad that won so convincingly a day earlier had the mercy-rule enacted on them after four innings Thursday.
And while Catacutan, who went 3-for-4 in the evening, is owed his dues for knocking it out of the park, many were compelling on the American roster.
DALL second baseman Mikey Finerty paired with Catacutan in the bottom of the second for back-to-back triples. American Nate Barclift smacked line drives in both of his at-bats, the first of which earned him two RBIs.
A duo batting in the sixth and seventh positions of the DALL lineup, Kooper Kijanka and Cade Sanders, mirrored each other’s strong offensive showings by going 2-for-2 and driving in a runner apiece as part of a nine-run third inning that made it 12-0.
And as the American sluggers put the Nationals on the ropes, DALL pitcher Ethan Ramos kept the DNLL batters down. In his three innings on the mound, he gave up no hits, walked two and tallied five strikeouts.
But, following the three punchless innings, National batter Cameron Knutson led off the top of the fourth with a walk and stole around to third base during teammate Jacob Schneider’s at-bat, finally providing the DNLL fans something to cheer about.
When Charlie Karagosian sliced a grounder through the infield, Knutson stormed toward home plate to put the first run on the board for the Nationals. But there was to be no comeback as DALL closer Iain Smith finished the game with a strikeout.
The result send the DNLL into an elimination matchup at Camarena Park on Friday at 5:30 p.m., while the Americans move to within one win of the championship round. DALL also plays Friday with an 8 p.m. start.
“Anyone can lose, and we can beat anybody,” coach Catacutan said of the upcoming matchup. “We just need to stay in our routine, and prepare physically and mentally for the next challenge.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett