A reserve had his one shining moment to keep Newport Beach’s title hopes alive.
Their 14-and-under PONY League All-Stars overcame several deficits and intense heat Saturday morning against Placentia, finally surging to a 7-6 extra-inning triumph in the sectional semifinals at Oak Knoll Park.
Little-used Camden Dass completed the comeback, pinch hitting a single to drive Jack Bolt home for the winning score.
“It’s a tough situation as a coach to have 11 guys and only be able to play nine,” Newport manager Chris Gomez said. “Camden saw he wasn’t playing much, stuck with it and came through with it mattered.”
Trailing by one in the bottom of the seventh, Dass led off and promptly absorbed a pitch to get on base. He dove head first to steal second, and then bulldozed the catcher after a wild throw to tie it.
One inning later, Bolt singled, then advanced to third on two flyouts. Dass dribbled a grounder down the foul line, only for the catcher to fumble the ball. He won the race to first, and Bolt jumped with his team in jubilation at home plate.
“I feel so good right now,” Dass said. “I’m just happy to help this team get closer to a title.”
It was a long journey to that moment.
Placentia’s Eli Rodriguez jump-started a first-inning rally, belting a single on the first pitch. An Ethan Harris single, two walks and a pair of fielder’s choices ballooned the margin to 3-0.
Rodriguez filled up the scorecard, finishing three for four with an RBI, two runs and two steals.
Newport Beach methodically closed the gap, first with a Charlie Mannon RBI-double in the bottom of the first. An inning later, Colton Quick drove Bolt home with a laser to left field.
Down 4-2 in the third, Van Sidebotham and Mannon got on base with singles on consecutive pitches. Jack Salmon zipped a single between first and second to even the score.
Gomez and company needed lockdown pitching to cross the finish line. Enter Bolt.
He hit the mound with the team down 6-4 in the fifth inning. He held strong with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball, including three strikeouts.
“We really haven’t used Jack at pitcher,” Gomez said. “We put him in a hard situation, and he just threw strikes.”