Northridge Drops Anchorage With a 10-Run Fifth Inning
Had the competition been ice fishing, the team from Anchorage, Alaska, might have had a chance.
Instead, Alaska made four errors that helped Northridge to a 14-2 victory Friday night in the first round of the Little League Western Regional tournament for 11-12 year-olds before 2,500.
Helping put the chill on Alaska was Michael Frost, who was in the lineup only because Jonathan Higashi was declared ineligible for living outside the Northridge boundaries. Frost was three for three with a home run and two singles.
“I was shaking silly I was so nervous,” said Frost, who had been seven for nine in a reserve role earlier in the tournament. “The home run was the first in my life. I felt so excited.”
The home run came in a 10-run fifth inning that blew open a close game and made starting pitcher Peter Tuber an easy winner. Tuber went five innings, allowing one hit--a solo home run by Keith Browne--and striking out eight.
Staff ace Nathaniel Dunlap retired the side in the sixth.
Northridge (13-0), the Southern California champion, will play Las Vegas tonight at 8. Las Vegas defeated Colorado, 10-4, Friday.
The absence of Higashi, the team’s catcher, forced Matt Cunningham to play behind the plate for the first time all season. Frost took Cunningham’s spot in the outfield. Cunningham had no passed balls, compared to eight pitches that got past two Alaska catchers with runners on base.
“Matt had two days to practice behind the plate,” said Larry Baca, the Northridge manager. “The kids were stunned (when informed of Higashi’s disqualification), but both Cunningham and Frost really came through.”
Alaska (7-2) scored a run in the top of the first and Northridge came back in the bottom of the inning on a walk to leadoff batter Justin Gentile and three wild pitches.
Northridge added a run in the second when Gregg Wallis followed singles by Tuber and Frost with an RBI groundout.
Spencer Gordon hit a two-run home run in the third inning to give Northridge a 4-1 lead. Gordon also drove in two runs with a single in the fifth and was three for three with a walk.
Also in the fifth, shortstop Matt Fisher homered and doubled, and Wallis doubled.
The big inning enabled Baca to play most of his reserves. It also helped relieve anxiety.
“We were nervous today, but I don’t think we’ll be nervous from now on,” Gordon said.
A Little Way
* Who: Northridge Little League 12-year-old all-star team.
* What: Western Regional.
* When: Today at 8 p.m.
* Where: Western Regional headquarters, 6707 Little League Drive, San Bernardino. Take Highway 118 east to Interstate 210 east to Interstate 10 east to Interstate 15 north to Interstate 215 south. Exit at Palm Avenue and turn right. Turn left at Little League Drive.
* Tickets: Admission is free.