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Final Tournament A Tough One For Tri-Valley Blazers
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Running up against some stiff competition in San Diego, the Tri-Valley Blazers baseball team closed out their 2004 campaign with a 2-6 showing. The team traveled to the USABF World Series recently, with games kicking off Aug. 6 and continuing through Aug. 12. They competed in the 18-and-under tournament, a bracket that featured more than 30 teams.

One of the team's two wins came by forfeit and the squad was uncharacteristically sloppy in the field, allowing several unearned runs over the course of the tourney.

Highlight of the tournament was the offensive showing of Riverbank's Adan Mercado, who had five of the team's 10 total extra base hits. He rapped out three homers and led the team in home runs, doubles, RBIs, total bases, runs scored and slugging percentage in the tournament. K.J. Vandagriff of Escalon posted a .412 batting average in the World Series, going 7-for-17 and Peter Krumeich pitched two innings, giving up no earned runs. He also had a home run taken away, the blast down the left field line ruled foul despite protests from players, fans and the other team that the ball was fair.

Starting off the competition with a game Aug. 6 against the Hemet Valley Dawgs, the Blazers fell in an 11-8 decision. Though Tri-Valley rapped out 12 hits and scored eight runs, the teams combined for 12 errors and eight of the Dawgs runs were unearned. Brian Lynn of Escalon had a two-RBI double, singled and scored a run in the loss, Vandagriff had an RBI single and also scored a run.

Game two pitted the Blazers against the Bay Area A's and they lost the contest, 9-3 on Aug. 7. Game three, on Aug. 8, saw the Blazers suffer a shutout loss to Taylor Baseball, 6-0. They came back with a forfeit win, 7-0, against the Mission Hawks in game four.

On Aug. 9, the Long Island Royal Cardinal out of New York roughed up the Blazers by an 8-2 verdict.

Game six saw the Blazers take their first on-field win, slugging their way past the San Diego Sox, 7-2, in the contest played on Aug. 11. Keying a six-run third inning was Vandagriff, who had a single and a run scored. He also drove in a run. Lynn, who came in as a pinch runner, scored on Vandagriff's single.

In game number seven, also played Aug. 11, Taylor Baseball came away with a crushing 3-2 win, with a walk off homer in the seventh inning. For Tri-Valley, Krumeich had a single, Vandagriff added an RBI single.

In their final game of the tournament, the Blazers fell behind early and could not catch up to Rocky Mountain Baseball, losing an 8-4 decision. Vandagriff was 2-for-4 in the finale.

Coach Mark Mangini said he plans to be back coaching the Blazers next year and was pleased with the overall play of the team this season. Despite the tough tournament to finish, the Blazers compiled an outstanding 23-13-1 overall record. He praised the players as a "terrific group" of young men, coming together from several different Valley communities.

For the final tournament, the Blazers had a .267 team batting average and their opponents batted .314; the team drew 14 walks and gave up 26; the Blazers fanned a total of 49 times and Tri-Valley pitchers struck out 26 opponents.

For the season, Vandagriff was among the leading hitters for the Blazers. In 35 games, he had 100 at bats and rapped out 35 hits, scoring 23 runs. He drove in 26 runs, had seven doubles, a homer, drew 25 walks, struck out 12 times and was hit by pitches four times. He also notched three sacrifices and twice reached on errors. He had an on-base percentage of .504, a slugging percentage of .450 and had an outstanding .350 batting average.

Lynn played in 25 games for the Blazers and had 59 at bats, collecting 16 hits and scoring 14 runs. He drove in six, had four doubles and walked two times. He struck out 16 times, was hit by a pitch once, had two sacrifices and reached on errors two times. His on-base percentage was .333 and he had a .339 slugging percentage along with a .271 batting average.

Offensively, Krumeich had 58 at bats in 23 games and rapped out 15 hits while scoring nine runs. He had eight runs batted in, notched four doubles and drew five walks. He struck out six times, was hit by a pitch twice, had two sacrifices and reached on an error one time. His on-base percentage was .354, his slugging percentage was .328 and he had a .259 batting average.

On the mound, Krumeich appeared in seven games for the Blazers, pitching 15.1 innings. He faced 66 batters and allowed 12 hits and six earned runs, nine total runs. He struck out 13 and walked six, while hitting two batters. Opponents had a .207 batting average and a .303 on-base percentage against Krumeich, while he averaged 5.9 strikeouts per game. Krumeich was 0-2 with a 2.74 earned run average.