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Area teams try to avoid elimination

ALISO VIEJO "” The Laguna Beach Little League 10/11 All-Star team is nothing if not resilient.

So, after a top of the sixth inning that seemed to go on forever, the team was still going to go down swinging.

Michael Shurtleff and Dane Olson scored in the bottom of the sixth inning, but these were just footnotes in a 28-3 Aliso Viejo victory in the second round of the District 55 All-Star Tournament winner’s bracket Wednesday night at Woodfield Park.

Laguna Beach is dropped to the consolation bracket, where it will have an elimination game Monday at 6 p.m., also at Woodfield Park. In fact, all four Laguna Beach Little League teams in the double-elimination tournament have elimination games next week (see graphic).


For the 10/11 All-Stars, who also topped Saddleback, 22-2, in their first game of the tournament, playing Aliso Viejo was a bit of a humbling experience.

“Aliso Viejo is such a big population," Laguna Beach All-Star Anthony Norelli said. “They can choose from a wide variety of kids ... [In the sixth inning], we were just thinking, ‘Please, dear God, be over.’ "

Aliso Viejo scored 18 runs in that sixth inning.

Laguna Beach got on the board in the fourth, when Will McInerny led off by socking a home run over the left-field fence. Tommy Ressler also had a hit for Laguna.


Danny Pietig made a nice defensive play in the first inning, picking off a runner at first base. Olson also made a solid running catch in right, robbing an Aliso Viejo batter in the third.

Shurtleff pitched five innings, and McInerny, Cole Calabrese, Norelli and Connor Hauer all entered in relief.

“We’ve got to get our spirit up," Hauer said.

Norelli nodded in agreement.

“We’ve got to stop thinking about the score, and start thinking about the game itself," he said.

In their first District 62 game, the Laguna 10/11 All-Stars won big, 22-2, over Saddleback.

Laguna started with an “over the fence" home run hit by Shurtleff in the first inning, followed by seven runs "” scored by Shurtleff, Olson, McInerny, Norelli, Ian Detweiler, Pietig and Hauer "” in the second.

A strong pitching performance by Olson, assisted by catcher Duke Holt, kept Saddleback scoreless until the third. Laguna stayed strong on defense, with big plays made by Ressler, Nolan Del Toro and Drake Butler, and cracked the game open with 14 more runs in the third.


McInerny and Cole Calabrese shared the mound during the fourth inning, maintaining Laguna Beach’s lead.

In other District 55 action:

?The LBLL Junior All-Stars fell to Rancho Niguel, 16-4, in their tournament opener Wednesday evening at Woodfield Park.

Manager Cary Redfearn’s club fell behind 7-1 early, but battled back with a three-run third inning highlighted by an RBI double by Blake Hester and an RBI triple from Eli Cassard.

Cameron Hauer also had two doubles, and stole home in the first inning to give Laguna Beach its first run.

LBLL has an elimination game at 5 p.m. Monday, also at Woodfield. A win, and Laguna would have another elimination game Wednesday.

?The Little League Division All-Stars fell to Lake Forest, 18-2, in their opening District 55 game Tuesday at Lincoln Elementary in Newport Beach.

Laguna Beach was stymied by a hard-throwing Lake Forest pitcher, although All-Star Mason Pitz said Brett Tracey got some big hits for Laguna and catcher Riley Babick also did well.


Manager Mark Linton’s team has an elimination game at 5 p.m. Monday at Lincoln Elementary. A win, and Laguna Beach would back at Lincoln on Wednesday.

?The Laguna 9/10 All-Stars lost a tough 9-8 game to Saddleback in their opener Monday night.

The team, managed by Eric Wills, has an elimination game at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Rancho Niguel’s La Paz Majors field. A victory there and Laguna would play again on Wednesday.


?Junior Division: LBLL vs. TBD, Monday, 5 p.m., Woodfield Park (Aliso Viejo)

?Little League Division: LBLL vs. Newport Beach, Monday, 5 p.m., Lincoln Field (Newport Beach)

?10/11 Division: LBLL vs. Northwood, Monday, 6 p.m., Woodfield Park (Aliso Viejo)

?9/10 Division: LBLL vs. TBD, Tuesday, 5 p.m., La Paz Majors field (Rancho Niguel)

*All games are elimination games