Story: Ernie Rapiere
Published: Sunday, 27 March 2011

Gilbert, Arizona at Big League Dreams Park – Perhaps the best 10U tournament of the year has just been wrapped up. While this event was scathed amid some controversy regarding umpire calls, with parents being ejected – when all was over, there was no question, by any of the California teams nor the California crowd who had attended this event, the Sandlot All-Stars had proven without doubt that they were worthy champions.

In an event that is loaded with many of the nations most outstanding teams, as expected – there were several upsets.  But, none were more surprising than the two losses by the #1 ranked Oakley Stingrays.  Their first loss came at the bats of So Cal United who exploded with a 10-0 run rule win in pool play. So Cal would later return later to trip the Stingrays again in the quarter finals.  They played the Stingrays very tough once again forcing the Stingrays to go to Jonathan Fuentes, their Ace pitcher, to preserve an 11-7 win.  This move may have been a big factor in the Stingrays semi-finals loss as they did not have the services of their pitching Ace down the stretch as he had already exhausted his available innings.  The Stingrays advanced into the semi-finals to face #6 ranked Sandlot All-Stars. The All-Stars unleashed great pitching backed by excellent defense, coupled with a very scrappy offense that racked up a surprising 9-0 victory over the long standing #1 team in the nation.  This win moved the All-Stars into the finals to face #5 ranked Nomads Elite who was fresh off a tough 5-2 win over the #4 ranked San Diego Show.

In the title game, it was clear from the opening pitch that this game was going down to the wire. The Nomads broke a scoreless deadlock in the 3rd inning jumping up 1-0. The All-Stars bounced back to tie the score in the bottom of the 4th.  In the top of the 5th inning, the Nomads got their lead off on base and capitalized when Michael Carpentier Jr. followed with a hit that advanced the runner to 3rd. Then, James Gomez singled to drive in the “go ahead” run putting the Nomads up 2-1.

Gomez had started the game on the mound for the Nomads. He gave 3 excellent innings until his pitches expired before being relieved by Basilo Pacheco who pitched the 4th and 5th innings holding the All-Stars scoreless until his allowable innings had expired.

Down 2-1 as they came up for their final at bat, the All-Stars found a way to save their day. Their first two batters drew walks, with Alex Palacios coming to bat.  He didn’t let this opportunity pass as he connected on a walk-off double that hit against the fence driving the two runners home – giving his team the championship

With this win, the All-Stars made a big statement and earned the respect of all the outstanding California Teams and the Travel Ball nation as a whole.