San Bernardino, here they come.
The Ocean View Little League Majors All-Star team earned a spot in the Western Regional tournament Monday night by routing El Segundo, 10-0, to win the Southern California State Championship series at Tijeras Creek Little League in Rancho Santa Margarita.
Monday's win sets Ocean View up for an 8 p.m. Friday date with Mountain Ridge Little League of Las Vegas in San Bernardino.
The tournament, which runs through Aug. 15, includes teams from Southern and Northern California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Hawaii.
To the winner of the regional: a ticket to Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League
Ocean View Little League last reached this point of the season in 2000. That year's Ocean View team was one win shy of reaching Williamsport.
"To come out as champions of Southern California, with 400 teams, is an accomplishment the players can truly cherish and be very proud," Ocean View Manager Tod Minato said. "It's on to the Western Regional in San Bernardino."
Following Friday's opener against Mountain Ridge, Ocean View will play Waipio Little League of Waipahu, HI., at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Washington Little League of Washington, Utah, at 9:30 a.m. Monday and Northern California champ Napa National Little League of Napa at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The regional semifinals are Aug. 13 and the championship game Aug. 15.
"We can't wait to get there," said Chad Minato, 12, a shortstop/catcher for Ocean View. "I think we have a good chance in the tournament. It's great that we got here and now we can make our dream even better."
Ocean View dominated El Segundo Monday in the decisive game of the best-of-three series that was called after five innings by the mercy rule.
Logan Pouelsen threw all five innings, striking out 10 and allowing just two hits in recording the shutout victory. The winning run was scored in the first inning on Nick Pratto's run-scoring single. Then, Ocean View blew the game open by parlaying eight hits into eight runs for a 9-0 cushion. The final run came home on Chad Minato's walk-off double in the fifth that led to the mercy rule.
Pouelsen also led the team in hits with three and Pratto, Armano Duarte and Hunter Jackson each had two hits. Chad Minato, Steven Gingery, Luke Williams, Corey Hawk, Michael Gates and Hunter Simmons all had hits.
"Logan pitched a great game," Tod Minato said. "He showed character by coming out after a bad outing (Sunday) to have a great performance. The offense was tremendous tonight, especially after being shutout for seven innings the day before.
"It's good to know the team can struggle and not lose confidence. The support from the fans has really made the game exciting and has motivated the team."
Ocean View won the series opener Saturday, 8-6, but El Segundo forced Monday's decisive game by scoring the only run in the seventh inning Sunday to win an extra-inning affair, 1-0.
In Sunday's setback, Gingery pitched a six-inning no-hitter and struck out 12 in a pitcher's duel with El Segundo's Tyler Smith.
"We wasted a terrific pitching performance by not being able to score a run," Minato said. "In seven innings, we struck out twice, meaning El Segundo made 19 defensive plays. Any team that can make that many plays and not allow a run deserves the victory and we tip our caps to them. Tyler Smith pitched his own gem, allowing no runs and only four hits."
Ocean View began the series Saturday with an 8-6 win. Gingery pitched the opening inning and gave up a run. Hagen Danner threw the next three innings and allowed five runs. Duarte threw the final two innings and didn't give up a run.
After El Segundo scored a run in the top of the first, Pouelsen countered with a lead-off home run for Ocean View in the bottom half of the inning to knot the score. A single by Chad Minato, double by Gingery and sacrifice fly accounted for two more runs to give Ocean View a 3-1 lead. In the Ocean View second, Simmons singled and Gates walked before Pratto delivered a three-run home run to increase the lead to 6-1.
El Segundo scored three runs in the third inning to trim the Ocean View lead to 6-4, but the locals came back for two more runs on a home run by Gingery and RBI-double by Duarte to double the lead to 8-4. El Segundo scored two more runs in the fourth to pull to within 8-6, but Duarte's shutout performance over the final two innings nailed down the win.
"Scoring eight runs on a very good pitcher like Lars Nootbarr is very satisfying and is a very good sign of our offensive abilities," Tod Minato said.
Ocean View, which last month won both the District 62 and Section 10 tournament championships, earned a spot in the Southern California State Championship series by defeating Rancho Buena Vista, 10-9, on July 28 to win the Sub Division championship at Tijeras Creek. Pouelsen threw the first four innings, giving up nine runs, and Jackson pitched two shutout innings to preserve the win.
"It was an uncharacteristic game for Logan to allow that many runs but our defense did not always help," Tod Minato said. "To Logan's credit, he battled the whole way. Hunter did a tremendous job of controlling a high-scoring, good-hitting Rancho team."
Pratto had an RBI grounder and Danner an RBI double in the bottom of the first, but Ocean View trailed, 3-2, after 1 1/2 innings. In the bottom of the second, Ocean View scored five times, getting two runs on Danner's double and three more on a home run by Gingery that pushed the lead to 7-3. That lead lasted until the top of the fourth where Rancho scored six runs on five hits to retake the lead, 9-7. Ocean View came back with three runs in the bottom of the inning that saw Pouelsen and Danner double to regain the lead for good, 10-9.
Now, Ocean View has its sights on San Bernardino.
"I think this team is really going to do well," Pouelsen said. "This is something we will remember, like the Hank Conger team 10 years ago.
"Our team has a lot of class. We have really good coaches and everyone gets along. We don't get on each other when we are down. This team doesn't have one star. Everybody on this team is really good."