DURHAM — Paradise Little Leaguer Ryan Branson got a good lesson in pressure-filled situations against Chico Eastside Blue in the District 47 major, 11-12-year-old championship game Tuesday night in Durham.
Paradise advances to Section 2 tournament in Susanville
By Jeff Larson – Sports Editor
Posted: 07/10/2012 11:01:38 PM PDT
With two outs, a runner on second base and Paradise leading Eastside by one run in the last half of the sixth inning, the 11-year-old right-hander was forced to get the final out in order to secure a District 47 championship.
Branson came through, striking out Brennan Kidd swinging, to preserve an 11-10 victory for Paradise Gold over Chico Eastside Blue at Durham Community Park’s Bruce Campbell Field.
The win — Paradise’s sixth straight since dropping the first game of the district tournament to Gridley over a week ago — puts PLL into the Section 2 tournament, where it’ll open up against District 1 champion East Redding Little League at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Susanville.
“Ryan’s been hit on, but tonight he truly believed himself, and I believe in the kid I know he can throw strikes and throw well,” Paradise Gold manager Todd Thacker said. “I kept telling him you gotta believe in yourself and believe you can throw strikes. He did and he really stepped up tonight.”It wasn’t easy, as Chico Eastside Blue (4-2) scored five runs off Branson, including four in the bottom of the sixth to come within one run and 120 feet of tying the game at 11. The 10th run that Chico scored, courtesy of a two-strike, two-out RBI single to right from Tanner Cramblet that plated Kyle Bettencourt, completed a 10-1 run in the final three innings of the game.
Chico was essentially dead in the water after it trailed 10-0 going into the bottom of the third inning. But Eastside Blue manager Dave Bettencourt believed his team could rally back.
Bettencourt displayed the confidence he had in his team with a passionate and forceful speech seconds before Colton Hamman stepped into the box to begin the third inning. Chico scored four that inning, two in the fourth and four in the sixth to nearly get even with Paradise.
“I believe in them and I think they believe in me,” Bettencourt said. “We got off to a slow start, and I think we just needed one more inning and we could have got it done. Very proud of these boys and congratulations to Paradise and good luck in sections.”
Early on, Paradise used its staple, which has been a consistent approach at the plate all tournament, to jump on Chico with a four-run rally in both the first and second innings. In fact, Paradise’s first hitters of the game, Logan Castellucci, Layne Thacker and Ryan Bolf each blasted solo home runs in a row off Chico starter Tyler Brogden. Paradise cooled in the fourth with one run scored in the final three innings combined against Brogden, Kidd and Bettencourt.
“It’s kind of been a problem these slower pitchers coming in,” Thacker said.“These guys seem to struggle with that a little bit.”
The one run Paradise scored in the latter half of the game occurred when Bolf blasted a double to right-center to plate Castellucci and put the team in front, 11-6. It’s a run that proved to be the difference because Chico couldn’t chase home Kameron Banegas from second base.
Branson deserves the credit for buckling down and recording what is probably the biggest out of his life to send Paradise off to Susanville.
“I had a lot of pressure on me, I was really nervous, (but) I’m really glad,” Branson said. “We had a good game.”