Bear River dominates D-11

Astros roll to District 11 majors title with just one blemish on their record all season
By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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The Bear River Astros narrowly missed perfection this year. Bear River swept Tri-City in a best-of-three series last weekend to win the California District 11 Little League Major Tournament of Champions title, closing out the year 24-1 as All-Star action gets underway this week. “It’s so cool being 24-1, but I wish we wouldn’t have lost,” said 12-year-old Kyle Soria, a star pitcher for the Astros. “You can’t win them all.” It was a near-flawless season for Bear River. A 1-0 loss — by an unearned run — to Nevada City on April 29 was the lone setback. Bear River avenged the defeat on June 25, beating the Dodgers 3-2 in an Area 2 TOC semifinal. The Astros then accomplished a rare feat in downing the Area 1 Cardinals in the TOC title series. “Normally the Area 1 teams win the TOC championship,” said head coach James Toft. “I’ve been around Little League and the eight or nine years I’ve been with Bear River I don’t remember a major Area 2 winning TOCs. It’s been a long time in the major division. It was really exciting.” The Astros, comprised of 10- through 12-year-olds, cruised past Tri-City 15-1 in the series opener Saturday and withstood a late Cardinals rally to complete the sweep by a 13-11 final Sunday. “It was quite a couple days of baseball,” Toft said. Soria, whose first All-Star game is Thursday, remembers Tri-City having his team’s number in recent years. “It wasn’t really expected because we played them in All-Stars and they’re a good team,” said Soria, who struck out five in four-plus innings to earn Sunday’s win. “We were the underdogs. We just had a lot of good players and good teamwork and a lot of practice.” Bear River boasted a potent offense that scored in double digits for much of the season, led by Soria, Donald Brennan and Robert Hildebrand, among others. “Our kids are amazing,” James Toft said. “They’re very coachable, they worked hard all year and set goals. The kids saw the benefits of taking extra batting practice and working hard. It was just an amazing year.” Soria, Tyler Toft and Brett Solomon shouldered most of the pitching duties. “We never really thought we’d go in there and beat Tri-City because they’ve always had really good teams,” said Tyler Toft, 12, whose all-star season also begins Thursday. “The first game we came out and shocked them. We’re pretty happy with 24-1.”