The McKinleyville 12-year-old Little League All-Stars will play for a state championship this weekend after winning the Section Tournament in Yuba City on Monday night.
The young Mack players completed an undefeated run through tournament play with a 1-0 win over Chico Eastside.
Playing in temperatures of more than 100 degrees all weekend, it was their second shutout victory in three tournament games.
Closer to home, the McKinleyville 8-10s kept their Section championship hopes alive with a comprehensive 16-1 win over West Redding in an elimination game at Hiller Park.
The Mack All-Stars are one of two remaining teams in tournament play and will try to keep their postseason going when they face Chico Central on Tuesday night at 5 p.m.
A win for the McKinleyville youngsters would set up a winner-takes-all championship game against the same team on Wednesday night with a place in the state tournament, which will also be held at Hiller Park, up for grabs.
The McKinleyville 12s, who are 6-0 in the playoffs, didn’t allow the excessive heat in Yuba City to affect their game as they shut out Chico for the second time in five days.
Kapko used four different pitches, which “kept batters baffled at the plate,” according to coach Quintin Carper.
Kapko and his defense got out of a jam in the second inning.
Back-to-back base hits gave Chico a pair of runners in scoring position with no outs, but Kapko struck out the next two batters and then ended the threat on a grounder.
That seemed to inspire the McKinleyville players, who scored the only run of the game in the top of the third.
The speedy Teoh Arredondo led off with a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball, before he was driven home by Mikey Shumard.
Shumard capped an impressive at-bat — which included four foul balls — with a line drive base hit between third and shortstop, and that would prove to be the decisive at-bat of the game.
Donny “The Rocket” Chivrell had the defensive highlight of the game in the fourth when he made an outstanding catch in right field foul territory for the final out of the inning to strand a Chico baserunner in scoring position.
The great defense seemed to inspire Kapko, who struck out five of the final six batters to seal the complete-game shutout victory.
Kapko capped a good all-around game at the plate and finished 1-for-2, as did Cabella Carper, who also impressed once again behind the plate and helped set the tone for the defense.
“Defense shined like a dime once again making zero errors once again,” Quintin Carper said.
Chivrell also made some noise at the plate and had a sac bunt, while Jude Scher had a sac bunt and a hit by pitch and Carson Hicks added a walk.
Quintin Carper also praised the play of Chico’s “phenomenal” defense, which was led by team captain James Shinar and robbed the hard-hitting Mack bats of five or six base hits.
“This kid is going to be a name to watch,” the Mack coach said of Shinar. “On and off the field, this kid plays well beyond his years. His attitude and effort and level of plays inspired me as a coach.”
The Mack 12-year-olds will begin the state tournament in Stockton on Saturday.
The Mack 8-10s, meanwhile, will also be hoping to compete for a state championship this weekend.
After suffering their first postseason loss of the summer on Sunday, the McKinleyville players responded with another emphatic offensive performance on Monday, establishing a quick three-run lead in the bottom of the first and never looking back.
Casanova Marshall, Colton Hawkes, Tyus Scofield and Rowdy Furber each had a pair of hits in the win, with Tatum Brock, Crew Hicks, Bo Battilochi, Reylen Benge and Kaydee Carper each also getting a hit.
Breyden Tullis added two walks and scored twice, and Reece Combs had one walk and also scored a run.
Cooper Jones got the win on the mound with a strong pitching performance.
The impressive Jones got the first nine outs on just 31 pitches and didn’t give up a hit until the fourth.
He closed out his night in style and struck out the final two batters he faced before reaching his 75-pitch limit and leaving the game to a standing ovation from a delighted home crowd.
In 5.2 innings, Jones gave up just one unearned run on two hits and three walks and struck out four.
Bo Battilochi closed out the game, tossing just one pitch to induce a fly ball to left fielder Reece Combs for the final out.
The Eel River 11-year-old All-Stars, meanwhile, saw their season end with a loss at their section tournament in Redding on Monday night.
After dropping their tournament opener on Friday, the impressive Eel River players won a pair of elimination games over the weekend, including an exciting walk-off victory on Sunday when Bryson Maniaci hit a two-run home run.