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LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL

Streaking Rangers capture fifth place in TOC with win

Local TOC gets underway
By: Joshua Gutierrez News Messenger Correspondent
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Rangers? relief pitcher Leo Martinez recorded 10 strikeouts in the final four innings against the Padres last Thursday to lead his club to a 6-2 win in Lincoln Little League Majors? baseball. After giving up a game-tying home run in the third inning, Martinez settled down to strike out nine of the next 11 Friars? he faced. In the final three innings, not a single Padre reached first base. ?Cutters,? said Martinez with a smile as to what his pitches were, ?and throwing it right down the middle.? Rangers? pitching allowed just two hits in six-innings. Starter Lee Michaelson allowed no one on base and struck out two. The Rangers? offense used a combination of fundamental hitting and timely power. All three extra-base hits scored runs. In the third inning, right-fielder Alex Nunez doubled to drive in two runs. The Padres came back to tie the game in the top half of the fourth but that?s as close as the SD boys would get. In the bottom of the inning Rangers? catcher Nick Ulloa hit a two-run round-tripper to give the Texas team all the runs they would need. However, Michael Sargent would add a solo shot in the sixth for the 6-2 final count. Second-sacker Ernie Cuevas also saw the ball well, hitting a single each time he came up to the plate. For the Padres, Charles Middleton supplied production both in the lineup as well as a behind the plate. With a screaming shot that ricocheted off the third-baseman?s glove into left field, Middleton reached safely with a single in his first at bat. On the first pitch of his second at bat with the Padres down 0-2and a runner on base, Middleton hit a line-drive that escaped over the center-field fence to tie the game. Behind the plate, Middleton blocked balls with his chest protector and caught errant throws whether well up, inside, or outside. Trailing 4-2, the catcher also called for a throw home on an infield hit and tagged out the runner advancing from third on a close play at the plate. Second-baseman Jacob Lemus also did his part by diving in the dirt to prevent a hit in the fifth inning. His throw from the prone position forced the runner at second. He came up dirty but had a smile over his entire face. The victory was the fourth consecutive win for Manager Paul Isola?s team. With a record of 6-12, the Rangers will finish ahead of the Yankees in the standings. ?Their bats have come alive,? said Isola after the game. ?This team is much better than their record reflects.? In the upcoming Tournament of Champions, the seeding will pair teams four and five in round That means the Rangers will once again play the Padres. It would be the fourth meeting for the two clubs with the Texans holding a 2-1 advantage. Saturday, June 2 Three games were played on the final day of the regular season. The fourth-seeded Padres made a statement on the final day of the season win an 11-3 win over the league-leading Giants. That propelled the Friars? to an 10-8 overall record to finish the season. The loss was only the third for the Giants. The second, third and fourth place teams were the only ones to beat the league leaders. The Rangers managed to keep their winning streak alive with an 8-3 win over the Pirates. In their five-game streak into the TOC, the club has outscored opponents 48-17. The Bucs? hope to turn their season around with a strong showing in the TOC. As the seventh-place club, they will face the second-seeded team in the first game of the tournament on June 4. A continuation game was played between the Red Sox and Phillies for Saturday?s finale with second place on the line. With the Sox up 6-0 in the top of the second, the Fightin? Phils? quickly made a game of it. Every inning the Phils? managed to inch a little closer to the BoSox. A big fifth-inning cut the deficit to three runs heading into the final inning. But the Red Sox countered, as they did all day, with another run to increase the lead to 11¬¬-8. Relief-pitcher Michael Hamp used two-consecutive strikeouts to close the game and secure a second-place finish on the season. The TOC will start June 4 and conclude June 14 with the championship game. Rangers 6, Padres 2 R H E Rangers 0 0 2 2 1 1 ? 6 10 0 Padres 0 0 2 0 0 0 ? 2 2 0 Rangers AB H R BI Isola cf 3 0 0 0 Nunez rf 4 1 0 2 Martinez ss 4 2 0 0 Michaelson p 4 1 2 0 Ulloa c 2 1 1 2 Rissucci 3b 2 0 0 0 Williams ph 1 0 0 0 Cuevas 2b 3 3 1 0 Griffin lf 2 0 0 0 Dattolico ph 1 0 0 0 Sargent 1b 1 1 2 1 Sandoval ph 1 1 0 0 Totals 28 10 6 5 2B ? Nunez (2rbi) HR ? Ulloa (2rbi), Sargent LOB ? 7 Padres AB H R BI Middleton c 3 2 1 2 Pallas p 2 0 0 0 Flores 3b 3 0 0 0 Rodriquez cf 2 0 0 0 Lemus 2b 2 0 0 0 Garcia 1b 2 0 0 0 Mattos 3b 2 0 0 0 Tofft lf 0 0 1 0 Estrada ph 1 0 0 0 Tneiman rf 2 0 0 0 Totals 19 2 2 2 HR ? Middleton (2rbi) LOB ? 1 Rangers IP H ER SO Lee Michaelson 2.0 1 0 2 Leo Martinez 4.0 1 2 10 Totals 6.0 2 2 12 Padres IP H ER SO Gregory Pallas 4.2 7 5 8 Jacob Lemus 1.0 2 1 1 Bobby Tofft 0.1 1 0 0 Totals 6.0 10 6 9