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Victoria Southwest head to state tourney after Section IV win

By Julie Garcia
July 15, 2014 at 2:15 a.m.

Victoria Southwest defeated Lamar National for the Little League Texas East Section IV championship. Team members are Dawson Holly, Caden Jander, Ky Zarate, Jordan Fillmore, Ashton Grones, Braeden Schmidt, Arnold Canales, Logan Johnson, Marco Di Leo, Bryce Sitka, Darren Slatter, Ricky Gonzalez, Jacob Bordovsky. Manager Abe Zarate and coaches are Dwight Jander and Ross Grones.

After facing Lamar National three times already in four days, Victoria Southwest was ready to take the top spot at the Section IV All-Star tournament when they played again Tuesday at the Victoria Youth Sports Complex.

And like in the previous games against the Richmond team, the Victoria Southwest 12-year-old All-Stars never quit.

After being tied 5-5, Victoria Southwest got a final run in the bottom of the sixth inning to win the game.

The victory means Victoria Southwest goes to the Texas East state championship Saturday and Sunday in Tyler.

Marco Di Leo was the winning pitcher. Ashton Grones and Bryce Sitka both hit home runs.

"The boys fought hard, and we won it in the bottom of the sixth," manager Abe Zarate said. "I've been coaching a lot of these boys for two years, and they never quit. We've nicknamed them the 'honey badgers.' It's a testament of the kinds of kids they are - good kids, good parents, just an awesome group."

Since the state was split into Texas East and Texas West in 2002, Victoria has had one Little League team win the state championship.

Victoria Northwest's 9- and 10-year-olds won its division in 2003.

Four teams will play in the Texas East state tournament. Only eight teams total remain in Texas. The winners of the two tournaments will go on to the Southwest Regional Tournament in early August.

"What is so special about this team is that they play as a team. There are no individual players on the team; they stick together and know their role on the team," Zarate said. "They all came together for us."

Lamar National has been a longtime victor of the Section IV tournament.

"We're very blessed," Zarate said. "Lamar and Hallettsville were very good. We came out on top; we're so proud of the boys."

Zarate said the team wants to thank God for a great season.

"Without Him, we wouldn't have been put in that situation to have that opportunity," he said.

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