RP hosts Cal Ripken tournament

#7 Jacob Herrera put his bat deep into the ball getting on base and adding helping his team win 12-0 at the end of 4 innings against Nevada last Thursday evening in the Cal Ripken 10-Year-Old PSW Regional Tournament hosted by Rohnert Park.

The City of Rohnert Park had the honor of hosting a Cal Ripken tournament last week, but it was some rough outings for the Rohnert Park All-Star team. 

“Never give up. Always keep fighting and to work together as a team. Because that’s what it takes,” Jason Chickering, the Rohnert Park All-Stars manager, said about what he wants his players to take away from the tournament despite some early losses. 

The 2022 Babe Ruth Pacific Southwest 10-year-old Regional Tournament took place from July 18 to July 23 at Rogers Field at Benicia Park in Rohnert Park. 

“The people of Rohnert Park have done a great job hosting and are just class acts. There was a team from Long Beach playing earlier, and just like all the teams from out of the area, they really appreciate how it has been organized. Plus, the weather is much better. In the Central Valley, it reaches 105 often. It is much more tolerable here,” said Todd Anderson, Northern California Cal Ripken Baseball state commissioner. 

It was a week full of baseball, as ten teams were split into two pools of five and played each team in their respective pool over the course of five days. 

After playing four out of the five days, the seeding for Saturday’s single-elimination State Tournament was determined by the team’s win-loss record for the week and, in the case of a tie, results of head-to-head matches and total fewest runs given up were considered. The top two teams in each pool advanced to the single-elimination round. 

The week culminated with the Hawaii All-Star squad narrowly defeating the Central Cal representative from Visalia 7-6 Saturday evening. Hawaii defeated the Northern Cal All-Stars playing out of Laguna 4-0, and Visalia dominated the Southern Cal All-Stars 18-2 in the first round of the single-elimination tournament. 

The Rohnert Park team started off the week losing a hard-fought game to Visalia 1-0 Monday night. 

After resting with a day off on Tuesday, Rohnert Park returned Wednesday night only to be dealt a 12-3 drubbing by Hawaii. One silver lining from Wednesday’s loss was that Rohnert Park was able to tally three runs and was the first and only team to put up any points against the dominant Hawaii squad all week until the finals.

“They played a hard game against Hawaii last night. I think we were the first team to put any points on Hawaii. So, they were fired up. I mean, even though it didn’t go their way, they left last night fired up and ready,” Chickering said.

Thursday, the action resumed with Rohnert Park taking on a struggling Nevada team that had given up a tournament-high 46 runs over the course of losing its first three games of the tournament, which included a 24-0 dominant win by Hawaii to start the tournament. 

The Rohnert Park coaches and players looked to Thursday’s game as a chance to find its footing and regain some momentum against the flailing Nevada squad, and they did just that. 

“They were feeling it. They were on the same page today. They came out hungry for the win,” Chickering said. 

The offense came easy for Rohnert Park; with methodical batting, a ton of stolen bases and some forced errors, the team was able to score three runs in each of the first three innings and four in the fourth. Combined with solid pitching performances from Braden Sandwina and Lucas Hurst, the Rohnert Park team handled Nevada easily, and with a 13-0 lead, the game ended early due to the mercy rule. 

“It meant a lot to the boys to get the first win. They’ve worked really hard to get here. They've earned it. I mean, they've been hanging blow for blow with the top teams from State on, and they've had a rough go. They played some great baseball. Things didn't go our way. But they're starting to play together, and they’re starting to play well. And I'm happy about what I see,” Chickering said. 

Friday capped off the week for Rohnert Park as they took on the other Central Cal team playing out of Tulare. 

After Tulare put up two quick runs at the top of the second, Rohnert Park answered in the bottom of the inning after Hurst reached first on a walk and then stole two bases. Lucas Chickering drove him home on a single that hopped right over the Tulare pitcher to shorten the lead to 2-1. 

The rest of the game was an offensive struggle for Rohnert Park, but they never stopped fighting and later, in the bottom of the fifth, the boys had a chance to get back in contention. 

Easton Ponce DeLeon reached first thanks to a Tulare error. Brandon Kidder hit a single, and a penalty on Tulare erased an out at second. Tristan Palardy hit a pop-fly deep, and Tulare’s outfielder was unable to make the play. With the bases loaded and down 5-1, Rohnert Park had a chance to tie the score, but Tulare’s players stepped up and made some crucial final plays to get the last outs and secure the victory.  

Despite winning one of its last two games, the Rohnert Park All-Stars did not qualify for the single-elimination tournament after finishing fourth in their pool and watched as Hawaii and Visalia battled for the title. 

Rohnert Park’s Kidder was awarded All-Tournament player heading into the single-elimination games Saturday.

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