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Little League Team Vies for 2nd State Title : Baseball: Success of the Thousand Oaks 9- and 10-year-olds reflects a growing dynasty in the Conejo Valley, their manager says.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Shortstop Chad Lundahlknows the sweet sensation of winning big.

The 10-year-old played in the state Little League championship game last year--and won. On Saturday, he played in the qualifying game for this year’s state title--and won.

Today Chad and his 11 preteen teammates from Thousand Oaks will vie for the state championship title again.

And they expect to win.

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“We’re gonna win,” a confident Chad said after Saturday night’s win over North Mission Viejo. “We are better than them in every way, hitting and fielding. . . . We are keeping our heads up and keeping each other up.”

For the second year in a row, the Thousand Oaks All-Stars advanced to the state championship. They beat North Mission Viejo 8-4 Saturday night.

They will play the same team again today at 5 p.m. in La Mirada.

If they win, the 9- and 10-year-olds will be the first team in history to win consecutive state titles in their age bracket, Manager Ed Kitchen said.

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Their success is a reflection of a baseball dynasty that is building in the Conejo Valley, he said.

“In the last three years, we made the state title five times in different divisions,” he said.

Last year, a team of 12- and 13-year-olds coached by Kitchen won the Little League World Series.

In Saturday’s game against North Mission Viejo in La Mirada, Thousand Oaks’ stellar 9- and 10-year-olds showed why the city is making headlines for outstanding youth baseball.

Though the team lost to Mission Viejo last week, the players came back with a vengeance Saturday evening.

Starting pitcher Jacob Brin turned in one of the best performances of the day. He pitched five of six innings, was three for four with one run batted in. He hit a single and two doubles.

Even though he fell ill Saturday, Chad also had a great game, hitting a single and a double with two runs batted in during the two-hour game.

Chad “played with a migraine and threw up the whole game,” his mother, Margo Lundahl, said.

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The boy scoffed at the idea that he would sit out--even if he was ill. “I like baseball,” Chad said. “Even if I puke, I don’t care.”

Right fielder David Epstein, 10, said he was keyed up for Sunday’s game and confident the team would play well.

“They got lucky when they beat us,” he said of Mission Viejo’s victory last week. “Everybody feels real confident.”


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