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Padres fall, but not before waging battle

June 08, 2006|By Matt Szabo

LAGUNA BEACH ? Padres Manager Bart Thomsen never stopped smiling during Wednesday's first-round District 55 Tournament of Champions game at Riddle Field.

He smiled when his Newport Beach National Little League Triple A champion Padres took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning.

He smiled after Aliso Canyon scored four times in the fifth, eventually earning a 4-2 victory.

And he smiled after the contest was over, when he assembled his team near the third-base line and talked about the positives each player had shown during the game and the season.

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"I treat Tournament of Champions as a game that the kids and parents should come to with no expectations," Thomsen said. "It's just to have fun, because you never know who you'll run up against. I think we accomplished that; I think we salvaged a good time out of it."

Who the Padres ran up against was the Aliso Canyon Tar Heels' pitcher Kyle Molnar, who Thomsen said was the hardest thrower the Newport Beach squad had seen all year. Molnar struck out 13, but the Padres jumped ahead in the bottom of the fourth with some timely hitting.

Matthew Riese started it off by beating out an infield single. Pinch-runner Brian Wagner went to second on a wild pitch, and Blake Flamson walked with one out to put runners on first and second.

Randall Hill followed up with a hit off the second baseman's glove and into center field, but Wagner was out at home as Aliso Canyon catcher Payton Batliner effectively blocked the plate.

With runners on second and third, Newport's Kevin Hill hit a hard shot to right field that went under the fielder's glove and past him, scoring Randall Hill and Flamson and making it 2-0, Padres.

"I thought we had a glimmer of hope when we took a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning," Thomsen said. "But it's a tribute to [the Tar Heels]. They were tough and played smart, and got a couple of key hits."

Most of those key hits came in the top of the fifth. With two outs and runners on second on third, Molnar hit a liner to second to load the bases.

The next hitter walked on a three-two pitch to force in a run.

Riese just on in relief of the starting pitcher, got Davis Ruhlen to hit a chopper near first base, but there was no play and another run scored. A single to center scored two more, giving Aliso Canyon its final margin of victory.

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