Peaking at the right time. That's what Crescent Bay Advisors did to win the Laguna Beach Little League AAA division postseason tournament.
CBA took the division's top-seed into the Little League District 55 Tournament of Champions, and has won its first two Minor division games. CBA, playing on its own Riddle Field, opened tournament action Saturday and was able to subdue Rancho Niguel, 5-3, in eight innings. CBA returned Monday to face Lake Forest and, despite a frantic final inning, was able to emerge with a 7-4 triumph.
The two wins sent CBA into the division semifinals Thursday, where it faced either Northwood or Laguna Hills. The score from Thursday's semifinal game wasn't available at press time. The winner of Thursday's game advances to the division final at 3 p.m. Saturday at La Paz Sports Park in Laguna Niguel.
In its opener Saturday against Rancho Niguel, CBA used a bunt and delayed steal of home in the eighth inning to pull out a 5-3 win. Caden Capobianco earlier had hit a two-run double to tie the score (3-3). Nicholas Lucas started on the mound for CBA, threw 75 pitches and gave up three runs in just over four innings. Nolan Smith threw three shutout innings to close out the win in an error-free game.
CBA got an early jump on Lake Forest on Monday by piecing together a few walks and key hits to build a 7-0 lead. Nate Magers threw five shutout innings. Lake Forest rallied for four runs in the sixth before Nolan Naess got the final out on a strikeout to preserve the victory.
CBA Manager Coby Naess said that the entire CBA lineup contributed to the victory.
"This tournament has been a great experience for our boys and it's been fun for us to watch them play at such a high level these past two games," Coby Naess said. "The pitching and defense has been exceptional".
Hobie, which won the regular season and postseason titles at Laguna Beach, won its first district tournament game Saturday but was eliminated from title contention after a loss Monday.
Hobie won its opener, 3-1, over the Laguna Hills Crush, then fell, 3-0, to the Laguna Niguel Cardinals. Both games were at Chapparosa Park in Laguna Niguel.
VFW, the second Laguna Beach team in the tournament, was upended, 12-2, in the first round Saturday by Rancho Niguel also at Chapparosa Park.
Hobie trailed the Laguna Hills Crush team, one that entered the tournament with a 22-2 record, 1-0, heading into the bottom of the fifth. There, Will Lichtenstein hit an infield single and with two out, Grady Morgan delivered a bunt single that sent pinch runner Luc LaMontagne to second base. Jack Wills then singled into left field to score LaMontagne to tie the score.
Jack Loechner, who pitched a complete game, retired the Crush in order (two strikeouts) in the top of the sixth. In the bottom of the inning, Lance Stewart drew a one-out walk before Kyle McCombs smashed a two-run, walk-off home run to deep center field that gave Hobie a 3-1 victory.
Loechner and Josh McManus singled off the Crush's Ross Leigber.
In Monday's game, Wills allowed the Laguna Niguel Cardinals just two base runners during the first three innings. Hobie managed only a single by Stewart during that time and the Cardinals took the lead for good on a fourth-inning home run. They added two insurance runs in the fifth to take a 3-0 win.
Junior National Division
Both Laguna Beach teams entered in the tournament had their seasons come to an end following first-round losses Saturday. The Firefighters fell, 6-2, to the Aliso Viejo Cubs, and McKenna Porsche lost, 14-1, to the Aliso Viejo Giants in games played at Chapparosa Park in Laguna Niguel.
8/9 All-Star Team