The Little League Intermediate World Series came and went through Livermore last week with the West (Hawaii) representative from the U.S. taking the championship by beating defending champion South Korea in the finals.
The team from the Central East Maui Little League of Wailuku, Hawaii used a 5-1 win in the title game, broadcast on ESPN 2 to bring home the title.
While the Hawaii team proved to be the best this year, there was some noise made from a team from this area. The District 57 winners from Tassajara Valley Little League in Danville earned a spot by winning the district tournament and grabbing the “host team" spot in the event.
The local side, managed by Jim Grant, the 1981 Dublin High graduate that had a high level of success on the athletic fields while growing up, won the first two games and came within a game of earning a spot in the U.S. final.
“All the teams coming in earned their spots to be here," said Grant. “We had six weeks to prepare for the tournament and we worked really hard, not just on the physical side, but the mental side as well."
Grant and his coaching staff had guided a Tassajara Valley into the Series the year before, giving the group the advantage of knowing what they needed to do to prepare this year's squad.
As they addressed the mental preparation as the tournament neared, Grant enlisted the help of another former East Bay Athletic League star in Randy Winn. Winn, who prepped at San Ramon Valley, played for five Major League Baseball teams, including the Giants and Yankees and was well versed in what to talk to the kids about.
“Randy was able to talk about how to play in big games," said Grant. “He talked about all the mental preparation and how to embrace the moment and the crowd. He told the kids don't try to avoid it because you can't. Embrace it."
They did just that, coming out with a 5-3 win over West University Little League of Houston, Texas in the first round and followed with an 8-5 triumph over Bedford, Ind. Little League in the second round.
In its third game, Tassajara dropped a 2-0 final to Florida, but still had a chance to advance to the U.S. title game by winning its next game. Hawaii, the eventual champs, put an end to the Danville run with a 10-0 win.
Grant had high praise for Geoffery Kennedy, Brian DuRoff and Kyle Ecker on the offensive side of the game, with Kennedy, Tim Zocchi and Kason Pelz leading the way on defense.
Kennedy, the lead-off hitter, went 5-for- 7 the first two games, with DuRoff delivering the hit of the tournament for Tassajara, a big two-run home run that gave the team the lead for good against Indiana. Ecker had a number of hits throughout the tournament and drove in a pair of runs against Texas.
On defense, Grant commented that Kennedy turned in the tournament of his life at shortstop, with Zocchi playing well at both catcher and pitcher. Pelz completed the middle defense for Tassajara with a big effort at second.
High school sports starting
It's that time of year for prep sports to get going for the teams from Amador Valley and Foothill and we want to make sure we get all the scores and highlights from your games.
Please make sure to have a team representative e-mail your week's results by each Sunday to firstname.lastname@example.org/ If you have any pictures from the week's events, send those as well. We just ask that you provide identification of those in the photos as well as the name of the photographer.