Dirty Play Doesn't Pay Off As Visalia Fails and River Park Advances in State Little League Tournament Print
News - Sports
Written by B|V|N Newsroom   
Thursday, 19 July 2012 01:33

 SELMA - It was everything a Little League game isn't suppose to be but in the end dirty play doesn't pay off for Visalia National and they head home from the Section 7 Little League Tournament with their tails between their legs. Fresno's River Park Little League twelve year-old team advances to the state championship for the third year in a row.

It's always interesting whenever a River Park and Visalia team meet up in the sectional tournaments. The Visalia parents are usually loud and obnoxious. The River Park parents are usually loud and colorful. At the four games BVN covered this season the Visalia parents didn't disappoint and it seems they have passed their lack of "Good Sportsmanship" off to their children on the field.

It started with the second game of the tournament on Sunday where River Park lost it's first game of the All Star season. In the first inning the Visalia National pitcher, Matt Vasquez, was accidentally hit by the ball from River Park pitcher Kyle Simas. It was obviously an accident because it not only loaded the bases but the next batter went yard with a grand slam.

The Visalia National coach complained to umpires that Vasquez was hit three times the day before by the 12 year old team from Lemoore. Later that night Vasquez was in Exeter, California to watch his younger brother play in the 11 year-old tournament. When we asked Vasquez how he was feeling after being hit four times in two days he said, "My coach gave me the green light to hit any of the River Park players I wanted."

Vasquez did the right thing and did not take his coach up on the advice and Visalia National legitimatly won the first game sending River Park to the losers bracket. This causing the Fresno team to have to win games on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to advance to the state tournament.

River Park beat Visalia National on Tuesday 8 to 6, only to have to come back Wednesday night and do it all over again. In the first inning River Park was up by four. When Visalia National came up in the second, either their pitcher RJ Ortega lost his mind, or his coach gave him the green light to try to hurt River Park second baseman Chase Prieto.

Ortega didn't slide or try to avoid a collision with the fielder, as the Little League rules say he should. He lowered his shoulder and ran full speed to knock the River Park 2nd baseman out of his way. For violating the rule, Ortega was called 'out'. Indeed, once the umpires discussed the play, Ortega was ejected from the game.

Visalia National parents lost sight of their sportsmanship, spewing foul language at the umpires and threatening this member of the media (for having photographed the collision). The very next inning Visalia National Kobe Davis, who had homered in the previous inning also tried to slam his way into a River Park player, this time it was catcher DJ Schramm. No slide .... just a leading shoulder and a collision that could have hurt either player. Davis was also ejected from the game.

This sort of behavior should never happen in a Little League game. The coaches, board members, parents and players of Visalia National should be embarrassed by the behavior they displayed during these games.

There was a shinning moment in the game when Visalia National pitcher Zac Legaretta accidentally hit Treston Bumatey. Legaretta followed Bumatey to first base and shook the runner's hand to show there were no hard feelings behind his throw. A great example of good sportsmanship that every Visalia National player should follow.

As for the game itself, Visalia National didn't have a chance on Wednesday, as the River Park 12 year-olds won in blowout fashion, 13-3 in five innings. The boys from Fresno scored six runs in the fifth on a combination of plays.  First, a solo home run by Hayden Sanders, then an RBI single by Chase Prieto, and finally a home run by Nick Caviglia.

In total, the River Park 12's hit three home runs in the win. DJ Schramm homered in the first inning. Caviglia racked up four RBIs on two hits.

Visalia National jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Matt Vasquez singled to ignite Visalia National's offense, before Kobe Davis homered.

River Park climbed up for a lead in the first inning, scoring four runs on an error and a three-run home run by DJ Schramm. They added two more runs in the bottom of the second. A wild pitch scored Sanders to get River Park on the board in the inning.

The twelve year-old team from River Park advances to the Division (State) Tournament in San Jose this weekend. They play the winner of the Section 2 tournament at 12pm on Saturday. If they make it through that tournament River Park will be sending it's second team to the Western Regional in San Bernardino in six years.

The Eleven Year-Old Tournament in Exeter

At the eleven year-old tournament in Exeter Tuesday night the same teams met up for the second time. However the River Park 11's were in the drivers seat as the undefeated team taking the lead early in the game. They refused to relinquish that lead recording a 9-3 victory.

With six runs in the first three innings, River Park 11's left no doubt about the eventual outcome. An RBI double by Wayne Rutledge during the first inning and an RBI single by Rutledge, a sacrifice fly by Trevor Fondtain, and an RBI single by Brady Crow in the second inning helped River Park put some runs on the board early.

Rutledge racked up three RBIs on four hits.

Visalia National's lineup had no answer for RJ Bernal. Bernal held Visalia National hitless over three innings, allowed no earned runs, walked two and struck out five.

River Park 11's increased its lead with two runs in the third. The inning looked promising, as Brock Jones singled, plating Garrett Fuller to kick things off.

Fresno's boys of summer built upon its lead with three runs in the fifth. Rutledge singled, plating Bernal and Jack Winn to start the inning. That was followed up by Fondtain's single, scoring James Ikemiya.

One run in the bottom of the fifth helped Visalia National close its deficit to 9-3. An RBI double by Percy Roberts sparked Visalia National's rally.

The River Park 11 year-olds now head to Watsonville for a game with their former section-mates from Section 6, Turlock American, on Saturday at 1pm.

Stay tuned to Big Valley News for more information on River Parks progress in their quest for a state championship or the dream of playing in Williams Port, Pennsylvania at the Little League World Series.