By Jeff Larson
Posted: 06/13/2014 03:46:43 PM PDT
Biggs >> Bradley Sobrero and Cooper Thacker are two of the longest-tenured Little League players under manager Brad Sobrero.
“They started out at 8-years-old,” Brad Sobrero said.
Four years later, Bradley Sobrero and Cooper Thacker guided the Paradise Little League major division Padres to a 9-7 win over Chico Central in the Tournament of Champions final Thursday night at Biggs/Richvale Little League.
“It’s awesome for these kids, especially the 12-year-olds,” Brad Sobrero, Paradise’s manager, said. “Bradley (and) Cooper have been here five times and we finally got this banner.”
Bradley Sobrero, the cousin of Paradise High product and North Dakota State center fielder Alex Sobrero, played a central role in the victory over the Dodgers (3-1). He scored the first run of the game with a solo home run to right-center field to put the Padres (4-0) in front, 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Sobrero then closed out the victory when he relieved starter Colby Cline in the fifth. His two-inning stint on the mound, however, was filled with drama, after Chico Central scored five runs off Sobrero and even brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the top half of the sixth inning.
“I said, ‘Do you want me to pull you?'” Brad Sobrero said. “He said, ‘No, I got this.'”
He did indeed, starting in the fifth when he struck out leadoff hitter Juan Nava with two runners on base and Paradise clinging to a 9-6 lead. Sobrero did it again in another pressure-filled situation in the sixth. Chico kicked off the inning with a one-out double from Caden Hill. The ensuing hitter, Henry Brown plated Hill with a single up the middle, trimming the deficit to 9-7.
Chase Wilson later singled off Sobrero to set up Alex Auspaugh as the go-ahead run with two outs.
But Brad Sobrero stayed with his son with the utmost confidence that he could get the final out.
Bradley finally did when he got Auspaugh to swing through his pitch and end the game via a strikeout.
“Whenever he says he’s got it I know he’ll do it,” Brad Sobrero said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen him struggle, but he said he had it, so I let him stay.”
Sobrero’s main partner during this run, Cooper Thacker provided key support to the right-hander with a solo blast in the third, followed by several putouts at shortstop.
Chico Central’s first scoring opportunity came in the third when Nava and Cody Morris led off with a single and walk, respectively. Thacker forced out Nava at third on a sharp grounder off the bat of Hill for the first out.
The next hitter, Brown also hit one to Thacker, which he nearly turned into an inning-ending double play. The throw, however, sailed wide of first base, allowing Morris to score the first of two runs in the inning and cut the deficit to 3-1. Paradise answered with a game-high five runs in the fourth, highlighted by a two-run double to right by David Baron, scoring the fourth and fifth runs of the frame.
Chico answered with its biggest output in the fifth, before Sobrero turned out the lights in the sixth and sent his team and manager to the winner’s circle for the first time.
Paradise’s Tanner Smith and Cody Palade earned the team’s Respect the Game awards following the ceremony. Landon Hill and Nava were co-Respect the Game winners for Chico.