Huntington Valley Little League brings out bats in rout of El Segundo
Earlier this postseason, Gage Everson of the Huntington Valley Little League 12-and-under All-Stars made up a phrase to describe his team’s power-hitting prowess.
“We can just drop tanks and bang,” Everson said.
Well, Huntington Valley unleashed its full arsenal Thursday night to stay alive in the Southern California Divisional Tournament at Woodfield Park in Aliso Viejo.
Huntington Valley hit three home runs and routed El Segundo, 13-0, in an elimination bracket semifinal game. The local squad advanced to play Temple City National in the elimination bracket final on Friday at 6:30 p.m., back at Woodfield Park.
Only three teams remain in the tournament, which will see the winner advance to the Little League West Region tournament in San Bernardino beginning Aug. 5. Friday’s winner advances to play Park View of Chula Vista on Saturday and possibly Sunday, needing two wins to claim the tournament.
“We did what we had to do tonight,” Huntington Valley coach Tony Armand said. “The approach is one game at a time. We had to win five games in five days [after Tuesday’s 4-1 seven-inning loss to Temple City National], and two of them are gone. We have to win three games in three days now.”
Huntington Valley used late-inning home runs from Noah Stockman and Wyatt Thomas to win Wednesday’s game against Golden Hill of Fullerton, 10-7 in seven innings. On Thursday night, the designated visitors erupted in the top of the third inning against El Segundo, scoring 13 runs on 10 hits and three walks.
No. 8 hitter Connor Armand led things off with a first-pitch single to center, and No. 9 hitter J.J. Abellaneda, the pitcher, as well as Stockman lined singles to left.
Tony Martinez cleared the bases with a first-pitch grand slam to center, slightly to the left of the 200-foot sign.
“It was fun to just hit the ball,” Martinez said. “At the beginning, we didn’t do that, and the third inning we kept hitting the ball and we were on the pitcher. I saw a curveball hanger inside. My coach kept telling me to step out of the box, because I kept getting jammed in my first at-bat, when I struck out. I fixed it.”
Huntington Valley wasn’t done. Everson singled to center, and he was brought home when Slater Vaughan cranked a homer to center. Gavin Pacheco then hit yet another single to center, and an out later, he scored when Thomas connected on yet another homer to center.
The score was 8-0, Huntington Valley. Armand, Stockman and Martinez then all walked to load the bases, before Everson’s walk forced in another run. Stockman scored on a wild pitch, and Vaughan drove in two more with a double to left.
Vaughan came home on Pacheco’s single to center, providing the 13th run.
“Once we start, we don’t really stop, most of the time,” Vaughan said. “We just get the hitting flowing. Going ‘big fly,’ single, ‘big fly’ is insane. I don’t think we’ve had that ever before. That was a fun experience. To have three home runs in one inning is insane.”
Abellaneda got the win, allowing just two hits in three innings. Connor Armand pitched the fourth inning.
“Seven of our 13 players were ineligible to pitch tonight, and as you can see, we threw a shutout,” Tony Armand said. “We went to No. 8 and 9, and we also have 10, 11, 12 and 13 who can all pitch too.”
Armand said he expects to have two of his top three starting pitchers back eligible for Friday’s rematch against Temple City National. Huntington Valley expects to be ready.
“We always focus on the game that’s in front of us,” Martinez said. “After today, we’re focusing right now on Friday.”
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