OROVILLE – Back-to-back Tournament of Champions.
By Jeff Larson
Posted: 06/12/15, 12:41 AM PDT
Paradise, TOC champs last year under then-manager Brad Sobrero who was in attendance Thursday, dominated the bracket this year at the plate, scoring double-digit runs in all four games led by Tuesday’s 21-run outburst against Durham.
“This is the best team I’ve coached,” Paradise manager Craig Wagner said.
The heart of the order did the brunt of the damage against Eastside (3-1), as Tanner Smith, Ashton Wagner and Silas Carter each had three hits and a combined six runs batted in. Carter, the team’s clean-up hitter, had the biggest shot of the night — a three-run blast to left off Eastside reliever Ethan Grassia, pushing the lead to 14-1 with one out in the third.
Two batters later, Hayden Hammett smashed one opposite field that landed in the top part of the trees just outside the 200-foot fence at Lake Oroville for a 15-1 Paradise lead through 2 1/2.
“One through seven can hit it out of the ballpark,” Craig Wagner said. “That’s unusual.”
Paradise (4-0) wasn’t done in the fourth as Smith put the finishing touches on his night with a two-run home run to left, chasing home Jessie Carmack and himself for a 17-2 lead. Eastside would get out of the inning allowing two more runs off hits from Wagner and Carter, to try and extend the game with an eight-run rally in the bottom of the fourth.
The Royals got leadoff hitter Noah Donkley on with a walk, but couldn’t advance him against power righty Ashton Wagner.
Wagner, one of Paradise’s two aces, struck out the side after the Donkley walk, to finish with eight strikeouts and three hits allowed in four innings on the mound.
Grassia was the only Eastside hitter to get two hits off Wagner, going 2 for 2 with a home run in the third.
It was Paradise’s night for the second straight year in a TOC final, and as coach Wagner said, the Ridge has a chance to three-peat in 2016.
“On this team two of (our) ace pitchers are coming back,” he said. “We got a good chance of doing it again next year.”
Eastside’s Ben Carrier was named the Respect the Game winner for Chico, while Dylan Peppas earned the honor for Paradise.