The Seaview Little League Yankees had a tall task ahead of them in their District 62 Tournament of Champions Minor A Division quarterfinal game Tuesday at Costa Mesa American Little League.
They faced the Huntington Valley Little League Jayhawks, who were the tournament’s top seed on their side of the bracket and they had to work to get there. The Jayhawks fell into the loser’s bracket of the Huntington Valley tournament before winning it all and qualifying for the Tournament of Champions.
That momentum didn’t faze the Yankees or starting pitcher Colin Crinella. He withstood a difficult second inning on the way to a 3-2 Seaview comeback victory.
Crinella threw 58 pitches over 4 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and three walks while striking out three.
Dorian Cherney and Augusten Luong each drove in a run, with Cherney scoring the game-winning run for the Yankees. Eddie Cherney, Jacob Attwater and Caden Bear also had singles for Seaview.
The Yankees advance to Thursday’s semifinals at Costa Mesa American. They will face the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal game between Huntington West No. 2 and Ocean View No. 2.
The Jayhawks scored two runs off Crinella in the top of the second inning. With runners on second and third and one out, Joe Farrier hit a sharp grounder up the middle that scored David Ivison and Eli Coe to take a 2-0 lead.
In the third inning, Crinella silenced the top of Huntington Valley’s order on just five pitches. In the fourth, he shut down the meat of the Jayhawks’ order, striking out two.
“He just has ice in his veins,” Seaview coach Bryan Bear said. “He’s a gamer, and he doesn’t show any emotion. He just kept battling up there and fighting.”
“I just told myself, ‘Calm down,’ and I kept throwing,” Crinella said.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Yankees rewarded Crinella’s perseverance.
With runners on second and third and two outs, Luong hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field, scoring Crinella and cutting the deficit to 2-1. Then Dorian Cherney hit a slow roller up the third-base line and beat out the throw for an infield single. That scored Carson Cato to tie the score at 2-2.
Cato was relieved his team overcame the two-run deficit.
“I was stressed out,” he said. “But then we came back, so I was not stressed out.”
Later in the inning, Cherney capitalized on a wild pitch to score the eventual game-winning run for the Yankees.
Caden Bear pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief, overcoming a two-out, bases-loaded threat in the fifth.
The following inning with a man on first, Bear caught a low pop fly off the bat of Jacob Troutt to seal the win for Seaview. Bear was nearly speechless after the game. When asked about his feelings over the win, he had one word, “Happy.”
For Jayhawks coach Clint Guth, the loss was an opportunity to teach a life lesson.
“You’re going to have setbacks in life,” he said. “Not just on the baseball field. Sports transcends beyond the field. It’s going to be with a teacher or a boss someday.”
Even with the loss, Guth wouldn’t change a thing about the season.
“It was the best coaching experience I’ve had yet.”
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