S.F. American seeks big-time

City team begins its dream of heading to Williamsport

Coach Tony Cucalon is a dentistby day, and even though he is as calm and capable as they come, he is probably used to being around nervous folks.

But once he trades his scrubs for sweats and heads to the Little League diamond, it’s Dr. Cucalon who’s biting his nails.

For the third straight summer, Dr. Cucalon will coach the San Francisco American Little League’s all-stars, this time taking the 12-and-under team on a quest to reach the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. That journey begins today at 4:30 p.m. in the District 3 tournament at Joe Wagner Field in Corte Madera. In the past two years, he led the 11-year-olds to sectionals and the 10-and-unders to state, sweating it out the whole way.

“The kids are pretty cool, but not me,” Cucalon confessed. “I bet if you add up all the kids, I’m more nervous than all of them combined.”

Pitcher-infielder Collin Monsour agreed with his coach’s assessment and said the players can’t wait to get onto the field. American has to be one of the most experienced teams in the section this year after two consecutive long summer runs.

“You get nervous at some points, but once you’re into the game, you’re fine,” Monsour said. “We just take it day by day.”

Monsour is probably the ace of a pitching staff that goes four-deep, spearheading what Cucalon called a balanced staff with many contributors. Connor Cucalon and Jack Klein are also key pitchers, while starting catcher Javi Mesa will also see time on the mound.

Garen Fabian provides a great glove at first base, while third baseman Colm Barrett is the big bat in the lineup.

“He’s our crusher,” Tony Cucalon said. “It’s like the ball changes shape when he hits it.”

Eric Sellai, Frank Kaniewski and Harry Gutchinov have the outfield covered, while Chandler Williams, John Shember, Jaime Shenk and Ian Fallahee will be key utility players.

“We’re really excitedto get started,” Cucalon said. “We know everyone will be gunning for us, but the hope is we do well, have some fun and hopefully get out of the district.”

melliser@examiner.comOther Sportssports

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