Eel River All-Stars stay focused, win tournament opener 

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Mason Long delivers a pitch during Friday’s game.

By Ray Hamill — The local Little League All-Star teams continued to impress at the Area tournaments on Friday, with the Eel River 11-year-olds opening their tournament with a big come-from-behind win over West Redding in Ferndale.

The tournament hosts trailed by three runs before they went to bat, but they didn’t panic and rolled to a 9-4 victory.

“We got down early and didn’t hang our heads and we stayed focused,” manager Brandon Long said. “We just played our game, and once we get rolling we’re pretty tough to stop.”

The Eel River players played well in all facets of the game, with some strong pitching, some outstanding defense and plenty of offense.

Mason Long had a big all-around day, pitching four strong innings in relief and finishing 3-for-3 at the plate with a walk.

“Mason came in and pretty much shut them down,” Brandon Long said.

Ryker Renner and Easton Essig keyed the early rally and both finished with a pair of hits, including a big two-RBI triple by Renner to tie the game in the bottom of the second.

“Ryker and Easton really got us going,” the manager said.

Carson McGinnis also had a big two-RBI base hit to give Eel River some breathing room with the game still hanging in the balance.

Defensively, Jarren Biondini took over behind the plate when Mason Long went to the mound and he continues to impress at the new position.

“He doesn’t have a ton of experience at catcher, and he’s just been getting better and better all season,” Brandon Long said of Biondini. “He came in and he did well.”

Centerfielder Miles Sirrine made the defensive play of the game, just as the Redding bats were threatening to battle back.

With the bases loaded and just one out, Sirrine made a catch on a fly ball and threw home to Biondini, who completed the double play and ended the scoring threat.

Starting pitcher Karson Lodes also threw well for the host team and didn’t get rattled despite the early setbacks.

After seeing their early lead evaporate in the bottom of the second, the West Redding All-Stars re-took the lead with a run in the third.

Eel River, however, rallied again with four runs in the bottom half of the inning and shut down the visitors the remainder of the way.

The Eel River players will continue tournament play in the winners’ bracket on Saturday at 5 p.m. If they win, they will play for the Area championship on Monday.

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