Yolo Post 77 entered last year’s Area 1 Tournament championship round needing to win one of two games against Petaluma to claim the title.
Two games, 7 1/2 hours and 54 runs later, Petaluma was the Area 1 Tournament champion.
On Wednesday, the locals will have a chance for revenge, as they once again take on a powerful Petaluma team. The squads will square off in the first round of the double-elimination portion of the championship bracket at 1 p.m. at Laurel Creek fields in Fairfield.
“The toughest team in the tournament is Petaluma,” Yolo manager Dave Ryan said.
Post 77 enters the game with momentum, having won four of its last five, with its last contest a 6-2 win against Orland on Thursday. Yolo’s Monday contest was canceled by its would-be opponent. Throwing for the locals will be southpaw Andrew Fuentes, who comes in on a hot streak of his own.
“In his last three starts, (Fuentes) has won two games,” Ryan said. “He probably would have won the (third game), but we had to pull him out because he had a cramp.”
A big part of Fuentes’ success has been his catcher, Davis High junior Daniel Henrickson, whom Ryan has slotted in behind the plate for his ability to handle Fuentes’ pitching.
“Fuentes is hard to catch,” Ryan said. “He’s a lefty that throws a two-seam fastball that runs a lot and a change-up that’s very difficult and breaks really late. … I put Daniel on (Fuentes) the last three games and he’s done a great job.”
The locals have another strong pitcher, right-hander Carlos Enriquez, to go along with Fuentes. Enriquez threw seven dazzling innings in his last start, striking out 12 and surrendering no walks or runs.
“Carlos Enriquez is probably our strongest pitcher going into the playoffs,” Ryan said. “He does kind of what he wants.”
Out in the field and at the plate, Yolo has been propelled to victories in part by designated-hitter Thomas Galart and center fielder Trey Golston. Golston also has filled in at pitching, recently throwing five innings of one-run ball against Humboldt.
Galart has been swinging a big bat, notching multiple hits and an RBI in almost every game he’s played in American Legion. Golston has been a stalwart in every aspect of the game, hitting at a torrid pace, acting like a vacuum in center field, and running the bases well.
“(Golston has solidified that outfield,” Ryan said. “He basically has stolen probably eight hits away from teams with his speed and ability. … He’s probably a Division I outfielder.”
The top four teams from the Area 1 Tournament have a shot at advancing to the state tournament, which puts extra pressure to win on the first couple of games. According to Ryan, there’s one thing that Post 77 will need to do in order to win those games.
“We’ve got to hit. If we hit, we’ll win,” he said. “None of these teams are easy outs … they can all hit. … We’re going to have to score because they’re going to score.”
If the Post 77 hitters manage to do just that — which they’ve had no problem with in their past few games — the locals will most likely have no problem moving on.