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Ramirez leads MALL to title

The Madera American Little League 11-12-year-old All-Star team celebrates its first 11-12-year old District 10 championship in 12 years after a 3-1 victory over Madera National on Thursday. (Manuel Guillen)


The Madera American Little League 11-12-year-old All-Star team rode the right arm of David Ramirez to four victories, including a 3-1 win over Madera National, to win the league’s first 11-12-year-old District 10 championship in 12 years.

Ramirez pitched every inning but two for Madera American and was solid in all four appearances. He tossed a complete game two-hitter in Thursday’s 3-1 victory over Madera National to capture the league’s first 11-12-year-old title since 2004.

Ramirez is also one of 10 players to win back-to-back District 10 championships, capturing the 10-11-year-old title last season.

“He pitched every single inning except two this tournament,” manager Mike Molina said. “He was good tonight. We had a couple of little mistakes on defense.”

Madera National left-hander Michael Monreal suffered the loss, allowing three runs on eight hits through the first four innings. However, he kept Madera American off the scoreboard for the first three innings.

“We were prepared for Charlie (Monterrosa) and his fast pitching,” Molina said. “Lefties are harder to hit for us and he was throwing a little slower. That threw us off for a bit. It was a good move by them.”

Benji Molina and Jojo Cosio each had two hits for Madera American. Bryan Malagon, Sajian Salas and Brian Monges each scored runs.

“The first couple of innings, if we get fooled, we get fooled,” Molina said. “The second time around, we adjust and that’s what happened tonight. Luckily we got a couple of runs out of it.”

Madera American will head to the Section 7 Tournament in Lemoore, beginning Thursday. The winner of that tournament will be able to stay home because the next tournament is state and it will be held at Harry Goorabian Fields at River Park Little League in Fresno. However, Molina wasn’t concerned about being able to go home after each game until the state championships were over.

“We play baseball year round so we’re on the road all year long and we don’t have a home,” Molina said. “We’re more comfortable on the road. This is our first home game in about 20 games. We didn’t have home games last year and Tournament of Champions. I was worried about playing at home.”

Madera National got on the scoreboard in the second inning. Ivin Ponce led off the inning with a double just off the glove of right fielder Kaelei Kajitani. He went to second on a passed ball and scored on J. R. Garcia’s groundout.

From there, however, Ramirez was nails. He only allowed two baserunners the rest of the game and struck out nine of the final 14 batters of the game.

Madera American had a chance to get on the scoreboard in the third inning. Cosio led off with a single, but Monges forced him at second. Two pitches later, Madera National catcher Marcus DeFranco caught Monges trying to steal second to put an end to the threat.

“It was a hit-and-run,” Molina said. “We were having trouble making contact with the lefty. We missed the sign, but that usually gets us out of slumps.”

Madera American then loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth. Murf Gray led off the inning with a single to left. Benji Molina laid down a perfect bunt for an infield single. Isaiah Monge followed with a single up the middle to load the bases.

On a wild pitch to Bryan Malagon, Monreal threw wild. However, DeFranco got to the ball and tagged out Gray trying to score for the first out.

“He got a great jump and usually when that ball hits the pad, it dies,” Molina said. “The ball bounced hard back to the catcher and he was caught.”

Monreal struck out the batter and got a flyout to end the inning to preserve the one-run lead. However, the bottom of the Madera American lineup sparked a three-run rally in the fifth.

Pinch-hitter Salas led off with a single up the middle. Cosio doubled to the right-center gap and Salas came in to score on a bad throw to the cutoff man to tie the score.

Monges reached on a bunt single to put runners at first and third to chase Monreal.

The first pitch to Ramirez went to the backstop and Cosio came in to score. Monterrosa struck out Ramirez and Gray grounded out, but that allowed Monges to score for a 3-1 lead and it was all Ramirez would need on the mound to secure the District 10 championship.

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