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LITTLE LEAGUE ACTION IN THE NEWS A's pile up runs in playoff bid

June 03, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — The Athletics have kept their playoff hopes alive, at least for a couple days longer, after picking up a 10-7 win over the Cardinals at Henry Street Field Wednesday, June 2.

The A's struck first when leadoff hitter Myron Bernal, who worked a seven-pitch walk, worked his away around the bases and scored the game's first run in the top of the first inning. Athletics ace Nathan Hilli, however, struggled to get comfortable on the mound and found himself in a hole after hitting Smiley Morales to open the home half of the inning and then walking the next two batters. All three would eventually score before the inning came to a close, giving the Cardinals a 3-1 lead.

The second inning was largely uneventful for both teams, though both starting pitchers picked up a pair of strikeouts in the inning, before the A's came back to tie the game in the third. Bernal hit a one-out single but was erased when Devon Palmerino hit into a fielder's choice for the second out. Hilli walked and Rodriguez hit a single with Palmerino and Hilli soon scampering across home plate to tie the game.

Hilli was lifted after just two innings in favor of reliever Dante Ortiz, who had some early struggles of his own. On his fourth pitch of the game, Ortiz threw a fastball that was crushed by Abdiel Ramos for a monstrous lead-off home run to centerfield, easily the furthest hit ball seen in the Major division this season. Morales followed with a double and later scored, giving the Cardinals a 5-3 lead after three innings.

Cards' starting pitcher Brandon Aviles struck out two more in a scoreless fourth inning, his fourth consecutive inning in the game with two strikeouts. Ortiz countered with a scoreless half inning of his own with a pair of called third strikes.

Down by two with six outs left to tie the game or grab a lead, the Athletics rallied in the fifth. Isaiah Vello led off with a walk and then Bernal, Palmerino and Hilli followed with consecutive base hits. Rodriguez was hit by a pitch before reliever Coco Morales struck out two batters to end the inning, but not until the A's had put four runs on the board and taken a 7-5 lead.

Working with his first lead of the game, Ortiz had a newfound confidence on the mound that was seen with fist pumps as he got through a scoreless fifth inning with a pair of strikeouts having been pouting the inning before.

Having fallen victim to late inning collapses earlier in the season, the Athletics knew some insurance runs were necessary to ensure a victory and came through with a few more runs in the sixth inning. Kendrick Bernal drew a one-out walk and was soon followed by a two-out walk by Vello. Myron Bernal and Palmerino singled and Hilli doubled to lead the A's offense into a three-run inning that put the Cardinals down 10-5 heading to the final half inning.

Rodriguez took the mound and struck out the first batter he saw but then Johnny Pagan and Coco Morales reached on errors before a groundout was recorded, putting the game one out away from victory. Tim Candelaria drew a walk and Rodriguez, who had hurt his hip on a play at the plate earlier in the game, was lifted for Myron Bernal to close it out in what was now a 10-7 ballgame. Bernal threw just two pitches, getting Ismael Pino to ground out to second base to end the ballgame and end the A's lackluster five-game losing streak.

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