VFW put together consecutive come-from-behind victories to remain in first-place in the Majors Division standings at Laguna Beach Little League.
VFW 9, Rotary 6
The first comeback victory saw VFW climb out of a 4-0 hole to defeat Rotary.
Rotary took that 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning behind key hits from Cameron Hauer, Elijah Cassard and Johnny Stanton. Then, the course of the game turned in the top of the third.
With two out and two on, Blake Hester’s three-run home run sparked an offensive onslaught for VFW that saw its entire lineup make contributions in a nine-run outburst.
Rotary came back to score twice more in the bottom of the fourth and was in scoring position in both halves of the fifth and the sixth innings, but VFW’s pitching and defense kept Rotary from getting closer.
VFW 6, American Legion 5
Again VFW found itself trailing, this time by a 3-0 score, but managed to fight back to win in a game played under a full moon at Riddle Field that featured two ground-rule doubles and a game-turning pickle play.
American Legion took a 1-0 lead in the first inning before adding two more runs in the third on hits by Sundance Severino and Max McCarter. That lead seemed safe, especially when Robby McInerny had given a gritty pitching performance.
Yet VFW came back. With the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the fourth, Adam Rodner’s sacrifice RBI scored Harrison Williams to ignite VFW’s rally. Noel Smith followed with a sacrifice bunt down the first base line scoring Brandon Lewis from third. Steve Watkins then hit a sharp grounder to short, but a throwing error allowed a run to score, as the score was even at 3-3.
VFW scored a go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth when Cole Kesler drew a bases loaded walk. American Legion had one last chance in the top of the sixth, but things looked bleak when Westin Barnes was down to his last strike with two out. But Barnes came through with a big hit as he crushed a deep fly ball to left field, scoring Barrett Thornton from second to tie the score. Another well-hit fly ball to center by Kevin Sasaki dropped in play, scoring Barnes for the go-ahead run and a 5-4 lead for American Legion.
VFW, however, had the final say. Brandon Lewis doubled to centerfield to begin the bottom of the sixth and went on to score on Chase Cornell’s double to left-center field to tie the score. As he had in the fourth, Watkins hit a sharp grounder to short, bringing in the tying run. Watkins got himself into a pickle between first and second and avoided a tag until the winning run crossed the plate.