The weather was warm and muggy for Saturday’s first game of the District 62 Little League All-Star tournament between the 10-and-under teams from Costa Mesa National Little League and Costa Mesa American Little League.
American’s bats were even hotter than the weather, especially the one wielded by Keoni Wun, who went three-for-three with three RBIs in American’s 10-0, four-inning win over National.
Wun’s bat was so hot; his teammates doused him with water during his postgame interview.
“I was just trying to get base hits,” he said, before the soaking. “If you swing hard, you’ll just drive it. If it’s a good pitch, just drive it to the outfield.”
Jude Dravecky joined Wun in the offensive onslaught also going three-for-three and two RBIs. Chase Carpenter and Noah Whitaker added an RBI each.
American’s pitchers were equally dominant. Tyler Ackerman, Wun and Johnny Garabedian combined for a one-hit shutout.
Ackerman started for American, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out five batters in two innings. Wun pitched the third inning, striking out the side and Garabedian closed the door in the fourth.
Turner Stewart had National’s lone hit, a single and pitched three innings in the loss. Jayden Munoz pitched the final inning for National.
American started the scoring in the first inning. With two outs and Wun on second, Dravecky hit a long double to the base of the wall in center field scoring Wun. Wun then stole third and scored on a Carpenter infield single for a 2-0 lead.
Dravecky was thrilled to see improvement in his own game.
“It makes me feel really good,” he said. “This is my first time I’ve ever gone three-for-three and gotten solid contact with a hit.”
In the second inning, Jaxon Bernasconi lined a leadoff single to left and advanced to second and third on a wild pitch and a passed ball. He then scored on another wild pitch for a 3-0 American lead.
American continued its onslaught with two outs once again. Wun singled in Luke Hobbis, advanced to third on an infield single by Dravecky and scored on a wild pitch. Finally, Dravecky scored from second base on a Carpenter infield single. That made it 6-0.
American manager Jon Damush was impressed with his team’s two-out approach.
“Frankly they battle,” he said. “They don’t get down; they keep hitting the ball hard, and they are aggressive on the base paths. They’re always looking to take the next base.”
American’s offense continued in the fourth inning. With two on and no outs, Wun doubled in Joel Cefalia and Ackerman to make it 8-0. Wun later scored on a single by Dravecky who then scored from second two batters later on a single by Whitaker for a 10-0 final.
For National manager Rob Shaia, the game was a chance for his young team — made up of only 8 and 9-year-olds — to improve against stronger and older competition.
“I’m proud of the game that they played,” Shaia said. “Some of these bigger kids run faster, so we need to tighten up our infield on the grass to make that throw faster and our outfield needs to play a little deeper.”
American faces Ocean View Monday at 5 p.m. at Fountain Valley Little League. National will play in the loser’s bracket game Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Fountain Valley as well.
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ANTHONY CIARDELLI is a contributor to Times Community News.