The championship game in the Majors division of Laguna Beach Little League took place May 21 at historic Riddle Field and it pitted the top two-seeded teams from the regular season, Rotary and Hobie, against each other in a winner-take-all affair.
Both teams displayed stingy defense, remarkable pitching and robust hitting throughout the postseason to reach the final game, which was won, 2-0, by Rotary.
Led by each teams respective aces, Brooks Hogenauer for Rotary and Jeremy Hayes for Hobie, a classic pitchers duel ensued.
Rotary's lead-off batter and season home-run leader, Nolan Smith, led off the bottom of the first inning and smashed a 2-2 fastball over the right-center field fence for a 1-0 lead. Rotary's next batter, George Williams, lined a sharp grounder to shortstop and legged out an infield hit. After stealing second and third base, Williams scored on a passed ball to finish the game's scoring.
Hogenauer skillfully led Rotary through the fifth inning and his Hobie counterpart Hayes, pitched a complete game, seemingly getting stronger as the game progressed. Rotary handed the closing duties to Smith in the top of the sixth and Hobie's final opportunity at-bat.
Milo Zegowitz led of the inning for Hobie with a single down the third base line bringing the tying run to the plate. After two Hobie groundouts, the visitors brought up Hayes, the season's runner-up in home runs.
Sensing that Smith and Rotary would not give him a pitch over the plate, Hayes stretched across the plate and connected on an outside fastball that rocketed to the warning track in right field where Rotary's Kyle Juergans made the catch to seal the victory.
Both Rotary and Hobie will represent Laguna Beach Little League Majors division at next month's District 55 Tournament of Champions.
— Reader submission
UPS claims AAA Division title
The AAA Division tournament title came down to a winner-take-all final between UPS and McKenna BMW at Riddle Field Friday. UPS emerged with a 5-3 victory.
Aidan McDennon got the start on the mound for UPS and squared off against Luke Machin of BMW. Neither team scored in the first inning but in the second, UPS came up with three runs.
Sam Schineller and Jax Lalouette drew walks to start the inning before Davis Dix laid down a perfect bunt which resulted in an error and scored two runs. Dix would later score on an RBI groundout by Luke Hendrickson for the third run of the inning.
BMW came right back with a run of their own in the bottom-half of the second. Brandon Britt plated Noah Liao with an RBI single followed by a Ben Neufeld hit but the rally was thwarted and UPS led, 3-1.
McDennon and Machin would settle down, however, and the score remained 3-1 through four innings. In the fifth, UPS got a lead-off hit by Jake Cutter, his second of the game, who would later score on a beautifully-executed, two-strike bunt by Luke Anderton. BMW, however, got another run of its own on an RBI ground out by Jimmy Redfern.
UPS held a 4-2 lead heading into the final inning. In the sixth, McDennon led off with a single and thanks to Schineller's bone-crushing double off the fence, would come around to score to give UPS a three-run advantage. True to their character and grit all year, BMW would put up one last rally.
A lead-off single by Joe Rosenberg and a walk to Machin would send McDennon from the game. Kai Gillies was called upon to pitch but Griffin Naess walked and Benjamin Reimers and suddenly, BMW was within 5-3 with one out. Anderton was then brought in to close the door and close the door, he did. A force out at home followed by a ground out to short ended the tense, exciting and well-played game.
Both UPS and McKenna BMW, along with regular-season league champion Gapp Construction will represent Laguna Beach Little League AAA Division at next month's District 55 Tournament of Champions.
— Reader submission