In a wild Major Division final that saw featured 13 runs, most of which were unearned, and wasn't decided until the final out, the Ocean View Rockies claimed the District 62 banner after holding on for a 7-6 victory over the Huntington Valley Sooners on Saturday at Huntington Valley's Inspiration Field.
"That was a tough one," Ocean View Manager Tod Minato said after his team came back from a 2-0 deficit, built a 7-2 lead, and then fended off a Huntington Valley charge over the final three innings. "Coming to Huntington Valley, then having to play their No. 1-seed, we knew this game would be tough. And, it was.
"It was a sloppy game, played kind of tight, but our kids did a good job of closing this one out. Our league was really competitive this year, and I think that really helped us today and throughout the district tournament."
Huntington Valley had taken a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. The Sooners did it, too, by coming up with a two-out rally. It started when Tanner O'Brien worked Ocean View starter and winning pitcher Ben McConnell – O'Brien fouled off five-straight pitches to stay alive on a full-count, then drew a walk. Andrew McGlynn followed with a double to the fence in left-center field that scored O'Brien. Cade Ortiz drew a walk and with Connor Biel at the plate, Ortiz faked taking off toward second base. The Rockies bit, threw to second, but Ortiz went back to first and McGlynn was able to score on the fake steal.
It marked the first time that Ocean View had trailed in the tournament. The Rockies had reached Saturday's final by edging Westminster, 1-0, Thursday.
"I don't think we've trailed in a game in about a month," Minato said. "We had trailed and came back to win in some of our league games, and the kids did a real good job of coming right back to take the lead. Who knew that Nick McConnell's home run would be the game-winner?"
The Sooners' lead lasted only one out into the third inning.
Noah Hickman, batting in the No. 9 slot for the Rockies, singled up the middle to ignite the comeback. McConnell drew a walk before Cole Minato laid down a bunt that went to the mound. Sooners starter Nick Morlett fielded the ball cleanly but his throw to first base was high and off the glove of O'Brien, and traveled into right field. Hickman and McConnell both scored on the miscue, to tie the score.
Andrew DeCarlo drove in the go-ahead run when his single to left field plated Minato for a 3-2 Rockies lead. DeCarlo later scored on an infield throwing error to make it 4-2. Matthew Anderegg had an RBI double and later scored on a wild pitch to complete a six-run outburst that led to a 6-2 lead.
The Rockies scored their final run with two out in the top of the fourth when McConnell ripped a solo home run over the fence in center field.
Down, 7-2, Huntington Valley scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth to creep to within 7-5. Morlett hit a lead-off single and scored an out later on an infield throwing error. Stan Scarborough, in his first at-bat of the game, singled home O'Brien. Scarborough later scored on a bunt out by McGlynn.
Huntington Valley nearly pulled this one out. The Sooners, who vaulted into the title game after scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth in a Thursday semifinal game, to edge the Robinwood Cardinal, drew to within 7-6, in the bottom of the sixth. Scarborough picked up his second hit with a two-out single. McGlynn kept Sooner hopes alive by singling into shallow center field and Scarborough went on to score on a double-steal. The comeback attempt ended when Ocean View reliever Cole Minato finished the game with a strikeout.
The Sooners scored the most runs (six) against the Rockies in the tournament.
"We called it, 'Sooner Magic,'" Huntington Valley Manager Scott Glascoe said of his team's comeback abilities. "We did it Thursday against Robinwood, and we nearly did it again today. This was just our third loss this year."
The Sooners ended their year 22-3.
McConnell emerged with the pitching win. He tamed the Sooners in the first inning and pitched late into the fourth inning, when he was replaced by Cole Minato. McConnell struck out the side in the opening inning.
"I don't know if anybody this year has sent us down in order in an inning," Glascoe said. "McConnell really came out firing and did a good job."
Morlett threw the first 2 2/3 innings and was replaced by Austin Heberden after the Rockies had moved out to a 5-2 lead.
In other division championship finals Saturday at Huntington Valley:
Minor A Division
Robinwood Titans 3, Ocean View Muckdogs 0
Andrew Baldwin hit a solo home run in the third inning to end a scoreless game, and Robinwood went on to get a district banner by shutting out the Muckdogs.
Baldwin also singled off the top of the fence in the first inning and closed out the game on the mound. Starter Riley Sterzer threw the first 4 1/3 innings to get the win.
The Titans were the No. 2 team from Robinwood. The Muckdogs were the No. 1 team from Ocean View.
Minor B Division
Ocean View Aeros 6, Fountain Valley Orioles 5
Ocean View staged a one-out, four-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning, to pull out a one-run victory and win the district title.
Christian Claypool singled with one out in the bottom of the sixth to trigger the Aeros' comeback. Jimmy Legg, who reached base after being hit by a pitch, scored the winning run by stealing home. Legg also notched the pitching win. Chad Lux started on the mound for the Aeros.
Little League All-Star teams from Cosa Mesa American, Costa Mesa National, Fountain Valley, Huntington Valley, Ocean View, Robinwood, Seaview and Westminster, start play next Saturday () at the District 62 All-Star Tournament at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley.