Sonoma Little League’s 12-year-old All-Star team battled back from a first round loss to play through the entire “loser’s bracket” to win the District 53 Championship, besting Fairfield Atlantic in two straight games this week.
Championship challengers who come out of the loser’s bracket have to prove their mettle by beating their rival twice, and the Sonomans did the job handily, winning on Monday by a 7-2 score, and capping the tourno with a 4-1 victory on Tuesday.
“We had a different hero every inning, every day,” said manager Donny Sebastiani. “These boys play amazing team baseball and they truly believe in themselves and in one another.”
The playoffs began in disappointing fashion on June 30, when the Fairfield Pacific team wore down Sonoma to win, 4-3. From that point on the boys had to work their way through the consolation bracket without another loss – and they did, making short work of Vallejo National 12-1, followed by victories over Benicia, Cordelia Tri-Valley, Napa American and finally Suisun.
That five-game streak over six days earned them the right to again challenge Fairfield Atlantic, which had breezed through the winner’s bracket and was well-rested, for the district title.
The Monday, July 9 anchor was Bear Melendez, who pitched a complete game victory, striking out nine and walking none, en route to the 7-2 victory.
Offensively, they were led by Nicolas Sebastiani’s three hits, Max Harrison’s two doubles, and Sammy Denkin’s bunt single in the third that got the scoring started for Sonoma.
The next day the two rivals met again, and once again Sonoma’s pitching proved the difference as Nick Sebastiani – the manager’s second cousin – took the mound to go the distance, allowing only three hits.
On offense, Nicolas Scevola manufactured a run in the first by reaching on an error and scoring on a wild pitch. The Sonoma 12s scored again in the third when Julian Brenek knocked in two runs, and later scored on Mikey DeWitt’s triple into the teeth of the howling Cordelia wind.
The 4-1 final score gave the Sonoma lads their third consecutive district championship. “They carved their names into Sonoma baseball history forever,” said manager Sebastiani. “And we are not done yet.”
Next up on the road to Williamsport, where the international Little League World Series is held in August, is the sectional championship tournament, with the first game in Vacaville this Saturday, July 14.
The 12-year-olds were not the only Sonoma winners in the District 53. Their counterpart Sonoma 11-year-old All-Star team bested Benicia 12-0 in four innings to win the title for the second time in a row. The title game featured a masterful performance by pitcher Norman Shinn, who threw a 42-pitch no-hitter.
The team broke open the game in the third inning when they scored seven runs on four consecutive RBI hits. By beating Benicia, Sonoma now moves on to the section tournament to face the winner from District 64 on Saturday.
#44 Andrew Bonfigli
#37 Grant Boydell
#29 Julian Brenek
#4 Sam Denkin
#57 Mikey Dewitt
#42 Luke Giusto
#40 Max Harrison
#38 Oisin Heffernan
#27 Bear Melendez
#39 Nicolas Scevola
#26 Ben Sebastiani
#50 Nicolas Sebastiani
Manager Donny Sebastiani and coaches Dean Bonfigli and Dave Boydell