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Costa Mesa National Little League takes Mayor’s Cup opener

Xavier Shoda thought he had just hit a three-run, inside-the-park home run Tuesday night for the Costa Mesa National Little League All-Stars.

Costa Mesa National trailed rival Costa Mesa American by a run in the third inning, and Shoda thought his hit to right-center had given his squad the lead.

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Instead, Shoda was called out by the home-plate umpire because he stepped out of the batter’s box on the hit.

“I was loading, and I must have stepped in front of [the box],” Shoda said after the game. “I was just really shocked. I was not happy about that.”

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He stayed further back in the box for his next at-bat, which came with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth. This time he launched a two-run double off the wall in right-center.

Costa Mesa National poured it on late, earning a 10-4 victory over host Costa Mesa American in the first game of the best-of-three Mayor’s Cup series.

“The biggest thing is that the kids didn’t let that [call] deter them,” Costa Mesa National coach Dean Smith said. “Stepping out of the box is a very rare call, and to actually pull runs off the board, I’ve never seen it. I’ve probably done maybe 100 games this year, and I’ve never seen that. But it’s his call, and we respect it.”

Costa Mesa National can clinch the Mayor’s Cup for the second straight year with a win Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at its home field. If Costa Mesa American ties the series, the decisive third game would be Saturday at 10 a.m. back at the Costa Mesa American field.

Costa Mesa American coach Devon Clark said that he expects to start Brennan Borg on the mound Thursday. Clark said that Borg was absent from Tuesday’s game due to a mandatory practice for his travel-ball team.

Borg helped lead his CMALL Athletics to the District 62 Tournament of Champions Major Division title last month, just the second time the league has done that.

“That’s basically our ace,” Clark said. “We’re banking on Thursday to come out and obviously have a much better game, and hopefully get it to Saturday.”

Costa Mesa National got its bats going in Borg’s absence, taking the lead for good in the top of the fourth inning. Jaxon Smith, Cole Wilder and Sawyer Atkinson led off the inning with consecutive singles, loading the bases. A run was forced in when Peyton Thomas was hit by a pitch, tying the score at 3-3, and Wilder scored on a wild pitch to give CMNLL the lead.

An out later, Nico Viramontes’ double to center scored another run.

Canaan Thompson walked and eventually scored in the bottom of the inning to pull CMALL within 5-4, but Costa Mesa National added five runs in the fifth to take control.

The rally was started by two of the lower hitters in the order. Phoenix Scott and Noah Nevins both drew walks before the lineup turned over and Jake Humphries, Shoda, Smith and Wilder followed with four straight hits. Shoda and Smith’s hits were doubles.

Nevins also had an infield single for Costa Mesa National. Smith, Miles Dodge and Shoda each pitched two innings.

Brady Tomko was two for three for Costa Mesa American, which now has to try to rally to tie the Mayor’s Cup. Tristan Ramos, Isaiah Vasquez and Aiden Comte also had hits.

“I think our hitting was decent, and I think our pitching was decent,” Clark said. “We just gave up some errors, and then our base running was pretty suspect as well. I was glad they battled, though. They stayed into it until the end of the game, so I was proud of them for that.”

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