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The State of the Union is Good - A Summary of the 2017 San Carlos Tournament

09/16/2017, 3:15pm PDT
By Ted Mathias, tmathias@axway.com

The 8U Missions Proudly Pose for their Championship Picture

The State of the Union is Good
A Summary of the San Carlos Summer Tournament

On January 5th, 1949, Harry Truman delivered his State of the Union speech to Congress.

“I am happy to report to this 81st Congress that the State of the Union is good.  Our nation is better able than ever before to meet the needs of the American people and to give them their fair chance in the pursuit of happiness.”

26 years later on January 15th, 1975, Gerald Ford had a slightly different speech to deliver to Congress and the nation.
“I must say to you that the State of the Union is not good…Millions of Americans are out of work.  Recession and inflation are eroding the money of millions more.  Prices are too high and sales are too slow.”

42 years later in San Carlos, we are happy to report that the State of the Union is once again good!

Of course, we are referring only to the San Carlos Baseball State of the Union.
And on that front, we are happy to report that the State of the Union is good.

First there was the Little League season, a wildly entertaining season that saw the home run race come down to the final week, and a team winning 7 straight games to capture the Majors Championship.

Then we had San Carlos hosting the Majors Super Bowl in June, and the heartwarming story of the San Carlos Nationals becoming the first San Carlos team since 2003 to win a post season District 52 tournament.

And finally, the San Carlos Little League season ended the same way it does every year, with the annual San Carlos Summer Tournament in the middle of July.

The San Carlos Summer Tournament Directors this year were Toby O’Brien, Ross Mackie, and Rick Galvez. 

Before the Hit-A-Thon came into play two years ago, the San Carlos Summer Tournament has always been the biggest source of revenue for San Carlos Little League.

There were 5 divisions in this tournament…7U/8U, 8U, 9U, 10U, and 11U.

San Carlos fielded a record number of teams in the tournament, with 11 teams across these 5 divisions.
And although the overall number of kids declined in Little League in 2017 after increasing for several seasons previous, the fact that there is such a huge participation in summer baseball is a good indicator of the baseball health for The City of Good Living.

Here is a list of all the San Carlos teams that participated in the tournament with the Manager of the team in parentheses.
 

7U/8U – Lumberjacks (Tim Giacomini)
8U – Missions (John Minton)
9U –Missions (Billy Roark), Lumberjacks (Joe Gotelli)
10U – Bears (Fred Im), Lumberjacks (Steve Magner), Missions (Joe Lorenzini), Impact (Jeremy Schmalzle)
11U – Lumberjacks (Tom Apela), Missions Blue (Josh Rowell), Missions Orange (Toby O’Brien)

 

Below is a summary of every Division and San Carlos team…

 

7U/8U – Manager Tim Giacomini has led the Lumberjacks to a blazing start in what has already been a successful summer season.

They went 2-1 in pool play in the San Carlos tournament and won their quarterfinal game, setting up a battle with the South City Storm Chasers in the semi-finals.

In what might have been the wildest baseball game of the entire tournament, the Lumberjacks fell just short, losing 11-10 in the final inning.

South City would go on to win the tournament.

For the Lumberjacks, both their losses in this tournament were by one run and they were just a play or two away from winning the championship.

 “The Lumberjacks fought really hard despite coming up short against a really good South City Storm team.  Our kids grew from the experience and I tip my hat to the Storm and San Carlos Little League for hosting a great venue for all to enjoy”, said Giacomini.

A week later the Lumberjacks would play in the Millbrae tournament.
They went 3-0 in pool play, and then won their semi-final game to set up a rematch against the South City Storm Chasers.
The Lumberjacks would turn the tables on the Storm Chasers, winning a one run game 8-7 to win the Millbrae Championship.

The Lumberjacks are now 17-4 on the season, a championship under their belt, and they are playing their best baseball of the season as we head into August.
 

8U – It was a packed house at Highlands North for the 1:00 p.m. 8U Championship Game between the Peninsula Rays Red and the hometown San Carlos Missions.
Not even the Highlands playground construction could keep the masses away.

This was the matchup the people wanted.

Missions Manager John Minton knew the task ahead would not be easy.
It has been a great inaugural season for this 8U Missions crew.
Playing a limited 3 tournament schedule, they have already won a championship in their second tournament in Foster City.
Now their third and final tournament of the season would be their hometown tournament.

But there was one loss that stung.
One loss they would hope to get a chance to avenge.

“Our first tourney of the year was the Redwood City tournament hosted by the Rays.  We breezed through the three pool play games, earning a #2 seed and a first round bye in the playoffs.  We easily handled our semi-final game.  Then we ran into a buzzsaw with the Peninsula Rays Red team”, said Minton.

“We had scored at least 10 runs a game in the first four games we played, but the Rays defense was stifling.  Our infield D was pretty good, but our outfield was not prepared to be peppered the way they were by the Rays’ relentless offense.  We suffered a mercy rule loss, 17-5.”

The coaching staff worked hard with the kids on their outfield defense and it showed in their next tournament which was in Foster City.
The Missions won that tournament, but the Rays Red team opted to skip Foster City, so the Missions would have to wait until their hometown tourney and hope the stars lined up for a rematch.

The Missions went 2-1 in pool play to finish 3rd in the 8 team division.
But the Peninsula Rays Red team looked like a juggernaut, going 3-0 in pool play and outscoring their first four opponents (including their first playoff game) by a score of 44-3.

When both teams easily won their semi-final games, the stars were aligned and the rematch was set.

There was a buzz in the crowd that was reminiscent of the Majors Super Bowl Championship Game where San Carlos beat Hillsborough. 

There is something inspirational about a team defending their home turf in a Championship Game.
The San Carlos Nationals defended their home turf and won the championship in the Majors Super Bowl.
Could the 8U Missions do the same?

You could just feel how important this game was to the Missions.
There was something about the way they moved, the way they handled their warmups, the sense of purpose in their step, that led the hometown fans to believe that something special might happen. 

They had watched the Rays Red team mercy rule them and celebrate to win their hometown Redwood City tournament.

But now they were on San Carlos soil.

“We got off to a great start with 3 runs in the top of the 1st, but the Rays answered with 4 in the bottom of the frame.  We kept adding runs and also holding the Rays through outstanding defensive plays, including diving highlight reel catches by Leighton Graves and Devin Debono in the outfield, and several impressive snares by second baseman Zack Beals” said Minton.

“We were paced offensively by the clutch hitting of William Walbridge, who had been a monster at the plate all season.  He hit his 10th homer of the season (all over fences or cones) in the championship.  (that has to be an 8U record).  We opened up a 12-4 lead in the top of the 6th.  The Rays went 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the 6th, and we took the title!”

Minton is too modest to say it, but his son Aaron Minton delivered the clutch blow of that 6th inning, a backbreaking two-out, 3 run home run over the fence in left center.

“It was a great game for the fans - it felt like we had a million people out there past the fence in left-center - and the players and coaches.  Everyone was fired up to have played so well against a team that beat us in all facets the last time we played them.  Every player contributed in the championship game, either with a hit or defensive play.  It was a real team effort, and we needed it to beat such a tough team in the championship game.  Overall, it was rewarding to see the development of the kids -- mentally and skill-wise -- from the Redwood City Tournament up through the title game of our tournament.”

It has been a magical inaugural season for Manager John Minton and the 8U Missions.
They wanted this game.
They wanted this rematch.
And when they got it they played like champions.
They defended their home turf and brought a championship to San Carlos.
It was the feel-good story of this hometown tournament.

Missions 8u small

 

9U – Missions Manager Billy Roark said his team has had some great moments this year, but they are still getting used to live pitching and are improving with every tournament.

8U is coach pitch and 9U is the first year kids pitch, which is a big adjustment for every team.

The Missions had a second place finish in Redwood City this year and Roark has them on the right track.

Meanwhile the Lumberjacks under Manager Joe Gotelli had a spirited run all the way to the semi-finals before losing to the eventual champion Seadogs.

“We had a big comeback in the (quarterfinal) playoff game Saturday against the Rays Blue – putting up 7 runs in the bottom of the 4th and 4 runs in the 5th.  The boys stayed in it long enough to get to our closer Drew Taft, and were able to get the bats going throughout the order to keep the rally going” said Gotelli.

 “Our offense was paced by Drew Taft, Isaac Copen, Zach Ehrenpreis, and Ethan Pedroso.  Meanwhile, Taft, Ehrenpreis, Henry Massey and Nate Gotelli did the heavy lifting on the mound.”

It was a great showing for the Lumberjacks and they hope to keep the momentum going the rest of the summer.

 

10U – The 10U division fielded the most San Carlos teams out of any division with four.

For anyone reading this article that is interested in fielding a team, just talk to San Carlos Bears Manager Fred Im.
Fred was the Manager of the AAA Rattlers this year and his kids had so much fun he decided to form a summer team with his Rattlers Assistant Coach Matt Goodwin.

The Bears took some lumps, but also had some great moments in this their first tournament in San Carlos.

But more important when I spoke to Fred when our teams played each other, he said that the kids on his team just love playing baseball and they will continue to play other tournaments.

Lumberjacks Manager Steve Magner was missing one of his best players in this tournament in Aiden Yang, but that didn’t stop them from battling in every game.

They lost a heartbreaker in the quarterfinals when they could not hold a 6th inning 3 run lead and fell to Millbrae in walk-off fashion.

But they also nearly beat the Impact who would go on to win the tournament. 
The Lumberjacks were down 4-2 in the Top of the 5th inning and had the bases loaded with no outs. 
The Impact survived that game but a valiant effort from the Lumberjacks in defeat turned a lot of heads.

“I was impressed with the feistiness and the heart of the Lumberjacks”, said Impact Assistant Coach Ted Mathias.
“They just kept battling all game.  They were down 4-0 in the 1st inning and held us off the board the next 3 innings while slowly chipping away.  They got tremendous catcher play and after the first inning their defense locked down.  We were fortunate to get out of there with a win.”

The championship game was an all San Carlos affair with the Missions vs. Impact.
It was a rematch of last season’s championship game.

In that game the Impact were up 3-1 through 4 innings.
Ian Josephson was lights out for 4 innings, with the only run he allowed scoring on an error.
But when Josephson left the game after reaching his pitch count through 4 innings, the soft underbelly of the Impact was exposed…the lack of pitching.
The Missions would go on to score 9 runs in the bottom of the 5th and win the 2016 9U championship 10-3.

The Missions have consistently been one of the best San Carlos summer teams in any division.
In 2015 they went 23-1 and won three of the four tournaments they participated in.

Last year the Missions won several more tournaments including the hometown San Carlos tourney.
They are always a tough out, especially in the playoffs.

Meanwhile the Impact were looking to once again win the San Carlos tournament.
They had won the tournament in 2015 over the Belmont Blasters, and after a late inning collapse to the Missions in the 2016 Finals, they were back again for the 3rd consecutive year in the Championship Game.

Ian Josephson once again toed the rubber for the Impact and this time delivered 5 great innings.
The Impact were able to close the door this time with a much deeper pitching staff behind Josephson, as Luke Ulrich came in and got the final 3 outs for a 9-3 win.

 “Playing in your hometown tournament always means a little more”, said Impact Manager Jeremy Schmalzle.

“It is a chance for the boys to compete against friends and family who do not normally get to see them play.  As a team, we have had a ton of success in this tourney, winning 2 out of 3 years.  But each win has been a very different experience.
As 8U, we were a new team and hadn’t played well going into this tourney.
As a coach, I just wanted the team to play well in front of the hometown fans, so winning was a total bonus.
This year the boys had been playing very well coming into this week, so our expectations as a team were very different.  I think the boys were determined to show that they were good enough to win it again and it showed in the way they prepared and played all week.
As the coach, I’m most proud that it was a total team effort.  Each kid contributed this week, whether it was a good outing on the mound, a timely hit or a great defensive play.”

For the Impact, they won their second tournament of the summer and improved to 15-1.

For San Carlos, it was two local teams in the Missions and Impact, representing their hometown and making them proud by making the Championship Game.
Hopefully there will be another all-San Carlos Championship game in the 11U division next year.

 

11U – The Lumberjacks led by Manager Tom Apela had a successful run all the way to the semi-finals before getting eliminated.

They had great pitching, giving up only one run in the tournament opener and then pitching a shutout in the quarterfinal game. 

The Missions Blue team under Manager Josh Rowell had a 2-1 pool play record and also had solid pitching, but fell in a tightly contested quarterfinal match to the Half Moon Bay Pirates.

The Mission Orange team led by Manager Toby O’Brien had another successful tournament.
They were 3-0 in pool play and the pitching was outstanding, only giving up three runs in those three games.

And then unbelievably, their pitching staff got even better in the playoffs.
In their quarterfinal and semi-final games, they gave up a combined total of zero runs, outscoring their opposition 20-0.

It was back to the Championship game for the defending champs.
The Missions Orange team won the San Carlos tourney 10U division with a spirited run in 2016 and now were in position to repeat at 11U.

But in spite of a great effort against the Pacifica Seadogs, they fell just short this time losing 5-2 in the championship game.

O’Brien sent me an e-mail that really captures the essence of this tournament.

“I will close with the best part of the tournament for me.  TJ (Toby’s son) and I were driving home one of the nights.  He said ‘Dad this is my favorite week of the year.  I play ball all week, I stay up late, I get to hang with my friends, and I get to be with you.”

This is what the San Carlos tournament is all about.

 

The San Carlos tournament has long been one of the premier destinations on the summer tournament schedule.
This success of this tournament is only possible due to the countless hours of volunteer work that have been put in by the Tournament Directors Toby O’Brien, Ross Mackie, and Rick Galvez.

It is a massive undertaking to run a tournament.
There are so many moving parts and so many details to take care of.
These guys have done a tremendous job dedicating their time to make this tournament a success.

It was a great showing for the local San Carlos teams!

San Carlos won championships in 2 of the 5 divisions (8U and 10U).

And they had strong showings in the other 3 divisions.
In the 11U division, San Carlos made the Championship Game and had two teams in the semi-finals.
In the 9U Division, San Carlos had one team in the semi-finals.
In the 7U/8U Division, San Carlos made the semi-finals and lost to the eventual champion by 1 run in that game.

So to echo the words of Harry Truman back in 1949, we are proud to say that the State of the (San Carlos Baseball) Union is good.

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