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Laguna loses grasp on championship title

Mike Sciacca

The way things had gone for the Laguna Beach Little League 9/10

Division All-Star team in its first two District 55 All-Star Tournament

of Champions games, you could say that the maroon and white were walking

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tall entering Monday night’s winner’s bracket showdown with host Rancho

Niguel.

They had to be floating on air, too, when they took a seemingly

commanding, 4-0 lead through four complete innings of play at La Paz Park

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in Laguna Niguel.

But all that changed.

Rancho Niguel erupted for five runs in each of its final two at-bats

to bring Laguna Beach back down to earth, scoring a 10-4 victory in a

battle of unbeaten tournament teams.

Errors, both of the mental and physical variety, did in Laguna Beach.

“It just didn’t look like our team out on the field,” said manager

Steve Contursi. “We were playing so well, and then the bottom dropped

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out. We made too many errors but I also give Rancho Niguel credit -- they

were down 4-0, but hung in there and battled back.”

The loss dropped Laguna Beach into an elimination game Thursday night,

against an undetermined opponent at press time.

Having scored a rare mercy rule victory in its tournament opener last

week, Laguna Beach followed that win with a 5-2 decision over Rancho

Mission Viejo last Saturday.

Winning pitcher Adam Selevan went the distance. He struck out three,

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scattered four hits and didn’t allow a walk.

The right-hander got an assist from a very heads-up defense.

“Adam’s a smart pitcher with a good change-up,” Contursi said. “His

job was to throw strikes and allow them to put the ball in play.”

Three of which were turned in by Garrett Hartwell, who made some

outstanding catches in deep center field.

Selevan also came up with a base hit in the game.

Brennen Mulvaney went to the mound Monday night against Rancho Niguel

and had enough firepower to keep the opponent off the scoreboard through

four innings.

He was working with a 4-0 lead after Laguna Beach’s offense came up

with a four run third inning.

Stevie Contursi delivered a hard line drive to left-center field to

start the rally, stole second base and scored one Mike Rubel’s RBI

single. Selevan and Hartwell each singled before Tyler Pierce came up

with a two-RBI single to make it 4-0.

“We were looking great up to that point. Brennen was pitching well and

we were hitting the ball, and then things changed,” Steve Contursi said

of the 4-0 lead, and Rancho Niguel’s 10-run outburst over the final two

innings.


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