Before the Ocean View Little League 8-, 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars played on Monday, some parents described Duncan McLeod as a filthy pitcher.
He was more than filthy against Claremont Little League. The only thing that got to McLeod was a pitch-count limit.
The left-hander struck out 13 in 4 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball to lead Ocean View to a 3-0 victory over Claremont in its Little League Southern California state tournament opener at Stearns Champions Park in Long Beach.
McLeod exited in the bottom of the fifth inning because he reached 75 pitches. Ocean View almost threw a combined no-hitter, losing it with two outs in the sixth inning.
But Ocean View moves on in the tournament to take on Thousand Oaks Little League on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Stearns Champions Park. Ocean View is a win away from reaching the title game.
McLeod faced 18 batters, four of them walked and one grounded out to third base. The rest of them couldn’t figure out his fastball or his offspeed pitch, two days after Claremont had scored 14 runs in its opening-round win over Chula Vista Little League.
“The key was to blow the fastball by them,” McLeod said. “I had to make them swing through it with my offspeed. I didn’t know I had 13 strikeouts.”
Claremont pitched well. Brady Bickham threw the first three innings, striking out four and only giving up two hits.
Ocean View went hitless after Bickham exited, but it made the most of three costly errors in the fifth inning with Claremont’s Branden Walker on the mound.
Luke Jones got on first thanks to an error at shortstop. Pinch- runner Luke Crespo advanced after Evan Simonds walked and Ben Savage got hit by a pitch. But Crespo wouldn’t score, getting forced out at home.
Then Brayden Newberry hit a fly ball to right field, but the ball was dropped, sending Simonds and pinch-runner Dane Goodwin home for the game’s first runs. Another error at shortstop allowed Mason Kirkman to score.
That was all McLeod would need, as well as Simonds, who came in relief in the fifth inning.
“We didn’t make big plays when we needed to,” Claremont coach Brian Dorman said. “We didn’t put the ball in play against a great pitcher. He had way too many strikeouts on us and we couldn’t put the ball in play. We have to make plays when plays are there to be made. Our pitchers made pitches, but we made a couple critical mistakes.”
Even after McLeod left the game, Claremont struggled against Simonds, who kept the no-hitter alive until the last inning.
With two outs in the sixth inning and a runner on first base, Caleb Elias broke the no-hitter with a shot off the left-field wall.
Taylor Kapadia came to the plate as the tying run, but he flew out to center to end the game.
“That’s a tremendous team over there,” Ocean View coach Pat Frohn said. “They can hit the ball. We saw them play when they scored 14 runs. They can flat-out hit and you saw that in the final inning. You hang it and they will put the bat to the ball. Credit to Duncan, he did a phenomenal job. I can’t say more about Duncan and the way he pitched for us. It was tremendous and unreal.”
Lucas Roha got on base twice for Claremont, which will play Eastvale Little League in the loser’s bracket at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
Ocean View will hand the ball to Simonds on Wednesday. McLeod said Simonds is no different than him.
“He has good offspeed,” McLeod said. “He can also throw it by hitters with his fastball.”
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