By Ray Hamill — Joe Tanno turned in a performance for the ages at Rohner Park on Wednesday night, as the McKinleyville 12-year-old All-Stars continued their epic journey with another district title.
The same team that went on an historic state run two years ago as 10-year-olds are playing better than ever and poised for another big playoff run.
On Wednesday, they capped an impressive five days at the district tournament with a 6-0 win over Redwood Empire in the championship game.
In four wins, the Mack All-Stars outscored their opponents 46-4, and they closed out with a stunning performance from Tanno on the mound.
The Mack ace remarkably struck out all 18 batters he faced, including 10 three-pitch strikeouts.
“I’ve never seen a player strike out 18 and have a perfect game like that,” head coach Carlos Avelar said.
Tanno threw strikes on 59 of his 69 pitches and had just one three-ball count.
Even more impressive, he had to overcome a shaky start to the game, barely striking out RELL lead-off batter Mason Noel on nine pitches.
“The key was that first at-bat,” Avelar said. “It wasn’t looking too good, but then he settled down and boy he just kind of woke up and started throwing the ball hard and mixing up his pitches.”
Tanno wasn’t the only hero on the night on a Mack team that is loaded with talent and strong in just about every aspect of the game.
“Between our defense, our pitching and our hitting we should be able to keep in most games against most teams,” Avelar said.
Playing in front of a packed house on Wednesday night, McKinleyville took the lead in the top of the second inning when Hunter Carper led off with a towering home run to left center.
They added a second run an inning later and began to pull away with three more runs in the third.
That was all Tanno and catcher Jake Brunner would need.
For good measure, Tanno also closed out the scoring when he drove in Brunner for a sixth run in the top of the sixth on a sac fly.
He then quickly struck out the side in the bottom half of the inning on just 11 pitches.
This, however, was about far more than just Tanno, with the entire team capping a brilliant run through the tournament with another big win.
The ever-consistent Rhythm Green continued his impressive tournament and finished 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and an RBI, while Bode Reininger was 1-for-3 with a walk.
Tate Saso and Lincoln Hungerford each also had a hit in the win, while Cody Wilson and Bowdy Hicks each had a walk.
Ethan Gordon, Lucas Jones and Bryce Gruetzmacher each also played well for Mack at this week’s tournament.
The Redwood Empire players closed out the tournament with a record of 2-2, with pitcher Evan Eagle throwing a good game in the decider and getting plenty of help from his defense, as they held the potent Mack offense to just six runs.
“That kid who pitched did a good job for them,” Avelar said of Eagle. “He pitched a good game. He definitely kept us off balance.”
Next up, the Mack All-Stars will now host the section tournament, which starts on Friday of next week at Hiller Park.
McKinleyville opens against Sutter/Yuba City at 5:30 p.m.