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Costa Mesa National Little League Major Division Pirates edge Fountain Valley to begin TOC

The Costa Mesa National Little League Major Division Pirates have been playing the Dodgers a lot recently.

Pirates coach Steve Cirillo said that Saturday’s District 62 Tournament of Champions opener against the Fountain Valley Little League Dodgers was his team’s eighth straight against a squad nicknamed the Dodgers.

“The last week of the season, we played our [CMNLL] Dodgers, then [Fountain Valley’s] Dodgers, and then we had a five-game series with our Dodgers,” Cirillo said. “That was seven games. This was our eighth game [in a row] playing against a Dodgers team. Not that it matters, but it’s kind of weird.”

The Pirates came up victorious in their latest game against the Boys in Blue. This one kept their season alive.

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A Dodge helped Costa Mesa National beat the Dodgers.

Right-handed pitcher Miles Dodge threw 5 1/3 strong innings and Costa Mesa National earned a 3-2 victory over Fountain Valley at the Costa Mesa American fields.

The Pirates advance to Wednesday’s district quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m., also at Costa Mesa American.

Costa Mesa National, the designated home team, took a lead in the bottom of the first after Cooper Cirillo had a two-out single, stole second and scored on a pickoff throw that sailed into center field.

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Fountain Valley tied it with one swing in the top of the fourth, when the Dodgers’ Josh Rodriguez launched a first-pitch home run to center. It was Rodriguez’s first homer of the season, coach Paul Salazar said.

“We’ve been waiting all season for that,” Salazar said. “Matter of fact, when we were in the dugout, I literally leaned to the other kid named Josh [Grock]. I was like, ‘Watch, this will be a good time for him to put it out right here.’ First pitch, he put it out. It pumped the kids up. He’s hit a few in practice, but this was the first one of the year in a game.”

The Pirates grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the fourth. Again it was Cooper Cirillo that scored, this time on a two-out hit from Peyton Thomas. They added an insurance run in the fifth, when Jack Paseka drew a one-out walk. A single from Harrison North and another walk to Caleb Jimenez loaded the bases, before Jack Paseka scored on a passed ball to give Costa Mesa National a 3-1 lead.

Paseka was fortunate, as the ball came out of the catcher’s glove on the tag.

“The coach didn’t really tell me to go,” Paseka said. “I just saw a passed ball and I went. I just got lucky. I felt my knee touch the [catcher’s] glove on accident, not on purpose, and I saw the ball go out and roll away and I put my foot on the base. I knew I was safe … I’m just glad that I got that one. I’ve been in a slump recently with hitting and running and stuff.”

Dodge reached his pitch limit of 85 with one out in the sixth, so Owen Connell came on to try to close out the game for the Pirates. The Dodgers had other ideas, though.

Owen Anderson, who had reached on an infield single to open the inning, then went to third on another infield single from Luke Williams. Grock had a run-scoring groundout, and Williams went to third.

But Connell stranded the tying run on third, striking out the next batter looking to end the game.

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Shortstop Jake Humphries turned a double play and had three additional putouts for the Costa Mesa National Dodgers.

“Jake saves my life every game,” Dodge said. “I couldn’t pitch if he wasn’t my shortstop.”

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matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo


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