The McKinleyville 12-year-old All-Stars will have to call on all of their experience in the coming days after dropping a heartbreaker in their second game at the Area Tournament in Anderson on Friday.
The Mack players took a pair of late leads in a tight game, but East Redding responded both times and pulled out a 7-6 win in extra innings.
“We couldn’t shut the door,” McKinleyville manager Patrick Green said. “But the kids battled really hard. I’m proud of them.”
But this is a group of players with some experience in the playoffs and the manager believes they will battle all the way.
“They’re up for the challenge,” he said. “We believe in ourselves and we’re going to show up and play.”
Despite the loss, Tate Saso enjoyed another big outing on the mound, allowing just four hits in five scoreless innings.
McKinleyville broke the deadlock in a tight game with a run in the top of the sixth, only for the East Redding All-Stars to respond with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning.
The game was just getting warmed up.
The Mack players then put up five runs to take a commanding lead in the top of the seventh, but the Redding bats responded again with six runs for the walk-off victory in the bottom half of the inning.
Among the offensive highlights for McKinleyville, Talon Turner hit a big home run in the top of the seventh, while both Lincoln Hungerford and Cabella Carper each also hit big doubles in the same inning.
Carper also was outstanding behind the plate all evening and continues to establish herself as one of the best young catchers in the county.
“She caught a fantastic game in brutal heat,” Green said. “She was amazing.”
The Mack players will try to respond on Saturday at noon, when they take on either Colusa or Chico Eastside in an elimination game.
The good news for the Mack All-Stars is they are well accustomed to playing elimination games, having won five straight on their way to the District title last week.