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AMATEUR SOFTBALL ASSOCIATION L.A./SOUTH BAY ‘B’ DISTRICT TOURNAMENT Cerritos 10-Under All-Stars move on to state tournament after wild elimination victory

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter

LA MIRADA-The Cerritos Girls Softball Association 10-Under All-Stars were one strike away from seeing their summer season come to an end and prevent the CGSA of not having an all-star squad advance to the Amateur Softball Association ‘B’ State Tournament. But first baseman Kylee Manibusan changed all of that with one swing.

With two outs and facing a 1-2 count with her team trailing Downey 9-7 in an elimination game of the ASA L.A./South Bay ‘B’ District Tournament, Manibusan smacked her second solo home run of the game. Moments later, right fielder Luna Villa tied the game to send Cerritos into the international tiebreaker. There, Cerritos would rally four times and eventually edged Downey 15-14 in eight innings last Saturday evening.

Cerritos would then clinch a berth in the state tournament by virtue of defeating Palos Verdes 4-2 this past Sunday morning before falling to Torrance 11-4. The win over Downey assured the CGSA of sending an all-star team to the state tournament every year since 2005.

“The game against Downey was unbelievable,” said Cerritos manager Anthony Medina. “It was back and forth all game long. We made a few errors and that put us behind by five runs. The girls knew that, so they turned it up a bit and executed when we needed it. It was an emotional rollercoaster.”

Cerritos, which led 2-0 after one inning on Manibusan’s first home run and a run-scoring single from center fielder Vanessa Soto, trailed 6-2, 9-4, 10-9, 12-10, 13-12 and 14-13. In the bottom of the eighth and relief pitcher Alyssa Riley standing on second per the international tiebreaker rules, she was sacrificed over by shortstop Michelle Meza and left fielder Presley Hendrix. Riley would tie the game on a single from catcher Natalia Hill. Starting pitcher Alea Medina would then strike out but make it to first base on a wild pitch. She would score the game winner on Manibusan’s fourth hit of the contest.

“After losing Friday the way they did, it made them push harder and want it more,” Anthony Medina said. “I’ve been coaching over 12 years, four years in travel, I’ve seen some great games. But I would definitely put it in my top five of all-time best games. I enjoy watching them grow on the field and see that spark lit in a game where they take over.”

Cerritos, which began the districts at 7-7-1 in four previous summer tournaments, lost to Palos Verdes 6-4 in 10 innings last Friday before bouncing back to defeat La Mirada 8-3 last Saturday. In the revenge game against Palos Verdes, Manibusan went two for three with two runs scored while Hill (run scored) and Villa (two RBI) accounted for the only other hits. In the loss to Torrance, in which Cerritos committed eight errors, Hill went two for three with two runs scored and an RBI.

“The first game we should have never lost, but that’s the way the game goes sometimes,” Anthony Medina said. “We still played 10 innings [and] we still fought. Palos Verdes was just the better team that day. The pitching was much slower; we adjusted too late. You’ve got to give it to both teams; it was a great game. It only made our girls stronger and want it that much more. They played with a lot of heart all weekend. You can’t count them until it’s over.”

Cerritos will face the winner of the East County/Eastvale game on July 7 at noon at the Big 8 Sports Complex in Lancaster.

The 12-Under All-Stars, who entered the districts with one win all summer, were blasted by Torrance 15-0 this past Saturday morning before bouncing back to beat Pico 7-2 in the afternoon to stay alive. The big blow was a six-run, top of the third inning after Cerritos had trailed 1-0 after one inning.

“I was cautiously optimistic,” said Cerritos manager Brian Bulthuis. “I felt really good; I felt like we were peaking and we’ve been picking up some momentum. Our hitters are hitting and there’s more of a comraderie with the girls, which is helpful. We were gelling at the right time.”

Third baseman Isabel Martins was walked to begin the top of the third and was moved to second on a sacrifice from shortstop Lysa McDow. That was followed by a double from second baseman Amarie Allen, who then went to third on a wild pitch and scored on an error. Pitcher Bella Bulthuis and catcher Chanel Madrid were each walked and courtesy runner Natalyn Membreno and Madrid would come home on separate errors. First baseman Ashley McCart doubled down the left field line and came home when right fielder Maya Torres reached on an error.

Cerritos added its last run in the next inning when Bella Bulthuis singled and Membeno score on yet another error. Bella Bulthuis would scatter six hits and strike out three in five innings of work. Later in the day, Cerritos was eliminated by La Mirada 9-1 as center fielder Makayla Vanosse singled in the top of the third and scored on Allen’s base hit. Cerritos would collect four hits in the game, all but one in the third inning and had a golden opportunity to add more in the inning as it loaded the bases. Bur Madrid grounded out to end the threat and Cerritos would get as far as second with one out in the next frame.

“I think what hurt us in the end was we just ran out of gas,” Brian Bulthuis said. “I don’t think we conditioned enough. I thought we were going to pull it off [in the third]. That was our shot; that was our opportunity.

“This is a great group of kids,” he added. “It’s a privilege to coach them. They’re all about the spirit of the game. We didn’t have any drama that sometimes you have. Even though we had losses, just to see them grow as players and get better…hopefully they learned something so they come back and bring that to their game and we can build a better team, a better league. I loved every minute of it.”

The biggest disappointment of the districts came from the 14-Under All-Stars, who came in with an 8-5-3 record and was the most consistent of the Cerritos teams. But the squad lost to Torrance 9-2 last Saturday morning and then to Downey 9-4 later in the day. It’s the second straight year that a Cerritos 14-Under All-Star team had gone two and out.

“It was not what we had hoped for this team,” said Cerritos manager Carlos Acosta. “It was absolute disappointing for all of us. We could have done better.”

In the elimination game against Downey, Cerritos was already behind 3-0 after three innings and 8-0 heading to the bottom of the fourth. Pitcher Caitlyn Azevedo was safe on a fielder’s choice, stole second and came home when shortstop Isabel Navarro was safe on an error. She too would steal second and score the second run on a single from left fielder Sabrina Cruz.

In the next inning, center fielder Natalie Samano singled, moved to second on a sacrifice from catcher Breanna Lucero and advanced to third on a base hit from right fielder Dy’Mond Larkin-Manzo. Two pitches later, third baseman Alexa Diaz singled to plate Samano while Larkin-Manzo later scored on an error.

“I was trying to get something going, hoping we can get runners on and push through some runs,” Carlos Acosta said. “But we couldn’t get the plane off the ground, so to speak.”

Cerritos was held to half a dozen hits but the key element of the game was the six errors that Cerritos made, leading to five unearned runs.

“That was the killer for us,” Carlos Acosta said. “Giving up runs just killed us all season. We can’t do that at this level.”

The 8-Under All-Stars also went two and out, falling to Long Beach Heartwell 5-4 last Friday afternoon and La Mirada 6-0 last Saturday morning.