By ERIC WITTMERSHAUS
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
After a stirring comeback in the Northern California title game, Sonoma Valley’s 15-year-old Babe Ruth all-star baseball team will begin play this weekend in the Pacific Southwest regional tournament in El Segundo.
Sonoma Valley punched its ticket to this weekend’s eight-team tournament with a rally in the top of the seventh against NorCal favorite Tri-Valley on July 19 in Ukiah. The two teams faced off three times in the double-elimination tournament, with Sonoma prevailing 8-4 in the first matchup.
On Thursday, the two teams met for the second time, with Tri-Valley needing two wins to advance. The team from Dublin took the first game, 13-3, setting up a late-night winner-take-all finale.
Sonoma Valley coach Jeremy Tayson, whose team went to Ukiah as an alternate, said a timely power outage in the championship game may have helped spark his team.
“We’re losing 4-1 in the sixth inning of the second game,” Tayson said. “Everybody’s pretty forlorn, and the lights go out.”
The power at Anton Stadium remained out for roughly 25 minutes he said, during which his loose team told ghost stories and made plans to see the new Batman movie at midnight, win or lose.
Once the lights came on, Sonoma Valley got out of the sixth, then took the lead with a five-run rally in the top of the seventh.
Sonoma’s Seth August tied things with a bases-loaded, two-run double on an 0-2 pitch, and another double by C.J. Vitale drove in two runs for a 6-4 lead.
That final run proved pivotal as Tri-Valley scored once in the bottom of the seventh before Devon Graff closed out the 6-5 win.
Tayson said this weekend’s trip to El Segundo wouldn’t be possible without the incredible support his team received from Sonoma-area residents and businesses. The team raised several thousand dollars in only a few days to cover its travel expenses for this weekend’s tournament.
“What an incredible thing for us to rally around,” Tayson said.
The NorCal title is Sonoma’s second. The team also won in 2003.