The Willow Creek Rangers closed out a memorable spring in Junior League baseball with a 7-6 win over Arcata in an exciting District 26 Tournament of Champions final on Tuesday night.
Playing at the Arcata Ball Park, the Rangers twice opened up a three-run lead only for Arcata to battle back to tie the game on each occasion.
However, Sonny White drove in what would be the game-wining run in the top of the fifth to help secure the championship.
Reiman drove in some pivotal early runs on his first two at-bats after taking on a key leadership role with the team this season.
“He’s been our leader all season long behind the dish,” head coach Jason Reiman said of Mateo, who calls the pitches for his team. “He really loves to catch, and his leadership skills and his ability to communicate with the team has really carried this team.”
White also played a key role for the team, which closed out the season 17-1.
“He pitched outstanding for me,” the coach said. “Every game he pitched, it was six to eight strikeouts a game. He really dominated on the mound.”
Second baseman Silven Yoder also was influential in the team’s success despite battling some injuries this season.
“He stayed tough for me,” the coach said.
Another player who stood out was Emilio Medina, the younger brother of Arcata High’s Wilson Medina, who had the walk-off base hit in Saturday’s North Coast Section championship game.
The versatile Emilio played a variety of positions for the TOC champions, including first base and pitcher, while also “hitting a ton,” according to Jason Reiman.
“All of the players, one through 12, contributed to the 17 victories,” the coach said.
Seventh-grader Owen Smith also showcased his talents after taking over at shortstop this season.
“He really was good with dealing with the pressure,” Jason Reiman said of the 13-year-old. “He stayed composed in pressure situations.”
The roster also included Forrest Fulton, Koda Blake, Kolby Larsen, Jackson Brown, Jonah Shatz, Triston Braun and Noah Platt.
“They came together right off the bat and it didn’t take much time for them to work together as a team,” the head coach said. “They really lifted each other up. They pushed each other to get better.”