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Newport Beach Baseball Assn. pulls away late to stay undefeated at St. Hedwig

The Newport Beach Baseball Assn. 11-and-under Grey B team will be done with its all-star season after this week, and that’s somewhat regrettable to coach Keith Attlesey.

Because of its status as a “B” team, Attlesey said Newport Beach won’t play in the upcoming PONY Baseball Bronco regional tournament later this month. The squad’s season will end at this week’s St. Hedwig All-Star Invitational.

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“We’d really love to win the championship, obviously,” Attlesey said. “It would be a great way to go out.”

Even competing in a tournament with more experienced teams — and older teams with 12-year-olds — Newport Beach 11-and-under Grey B appears to be a contender. The local team beat Placentia 6-1 on Tuesday evening at St. Hedwig School, improving to 2-0 in the six-team red pool.

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Newport Beach still has one pool-play game remaining, on Saturday at 4 p.m. against Cypress. But Attlesey said his team has all but clinched at least a spot in the red pool semifinals, which will be Sunday at 11 a.m. If Newport Beach wins the pool, it would advance directly to the championship game at 4 p.m. Sunday.

“We’re performing really well,” Attlesey said. “This is a good team. I’ve coached at this level for three years now, and this is by far the best ‘B’ team we’ve ever had.”

Dylan O’Kelly got the win Tuesday for Newport Beach, allowing just one run and one hit in 4⅔ innings. Benjamin Stone then shut the door on Placentia, recording all four of his outs via strikeout to end the six-inning contest.

Placentia starting pitcher Jacob Lampley also threw well, allowing just two runs and two hits in four innings.

“The difference in the game that I saw was the fielding,” Attlesey said. “Our defense was a little more tight, and that’s why we got more runs. We were pretty evenly matched otherwise.”

Newport Beach never trailed, but had a tenuous 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning when a key play occurred. A pickoff attempt by O’Kelly at second went past the base, and past Newport Beach center fielder Josh Attlesey. Placentia’s Pierce Werner attempted to score what would be the tying run.

“I was kind of angry, because that might have got the game tied,” O’Kelly said. “It was close. I was like, ‘Oh, no! We might actually lose this game.’ ”

But Josh Attlesey recovered. His relay throw went to O’Kelly, who fired home to catcher Marc Solomon. The runner was easily out.

Newport Beach then scored four runs in the bottom of the frame. O’Kelly, Jeff Wulff and Tyson Tran all singled to start the inning before Braden Smith walked. All four players would end up scoring.

“That felt good, that extra support,” said Stone, who had come on in the top of the fifth to strike out Chris Windish with a runner on third to end the threat.

Stone had a hit, a walk and three stolen bases for Newport Beach. Ryder Shaw was hit by a pitch and eventually scored, while Sean Stout reached via walk and Logan Hykes had an infield single.

Brayden Johnson and Tyler Anderson also contributed for Newport Beach, which moved closer to contending for the tournament title. Anderson is one of two 10-year-old players on the team, along with Stone.

“I think we’re getting better every game,” O’Kelly said.

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