Sonorans Wyatt Johnson and Justin Payne are having quite a ride playing on the Modesto Babe Ruth 18-and-under team.
After losing two heartbreaking games in the final inning to begin the World Series tournament in Weimar, Texas, Modesto won its next two in pool play to qualify for the single elimination championship bracket.
“It’s pretty amazing to make it this far,” said Johnson, who graduated from Sonora High this year. “It’s hot and sticky here in Texas, but the host family we’ve been staying with has been great.”
Modesto defeated Alabama on Tuesday in exciting, walk-off style to advance.
Down by one run in the bottom of the seventh inning, Modesto got its first two batters on base via walks. The next two hitters made outs.
Down to its final out, Cameron Godfrey, of Beyer High School, stroked a single up the middle to bring home the tying run.
The winning run scored on an outfield throwing error on the same play leading to Modesto emotionally dogpiling on each other in celebration.
“We really needed that win,” said Johnson. “We hadn’t been getting any breaks and that was a big one we needed. Alabama was probably the toughest team we’ve played so far and they were real cocky so it was a real nice win.”
10 teams qualified to vie for the World Series title and were broken up into two five-team divisions — American and National.
Modesto was in the American division and finished in the third and final qualifying position.
Modesto will play a yet to be determined opponent, the National division’s No. 2, today at 5 p.m.