After no-hitting Seaview Little League to advance to Thursday’s District 62 Tournament of Champions Major Division semifinals, you would expect Ocean View Little League’s pitching and defense to shine once again.
The Yankees had blanked their first two opponents in the tournament.
The Huntington West Little League Cubs presented a formidable opponent, but the Yankees again relied on sterling defense and shutdown pitching to earn a 5-0 home win at Park View Elementary School in Huntington Beach.
The Yankees move on to Saturday’s 10 a.m. championship game and will host the Costa Mesa American Little League Athletics. The Athletics defeated the Costa Mesa National Little League Pirates 2-0 in the semifinals on Thursday.
Yankees manager Dean Haidl credited the team’s defense for Matt’s success on the mound.
“It was great because every kid made plays today,” he said. “Across the diamond, everybody contributed on defense.”
Matt Haidl worked off early jitters with defensive help, including a diving catch by center fielder Max Richter.
“Before the game, I was a little nervous trying to throw strikes and put it down the plate and let my defense play,” Haidl said. “In practice we work on all those plays, to make them felt good as the pitcher.
At the plate, Gavin Pluma led the way going one for three with a two-run double. Wyatt Unger drove in a run on a sacrifice, and Micah Taylor tripled and scored a run.
Ryo DeGuzman and Samuel Arredondo threw for the Cubs. DeGuzman went 3 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, no walks and three strikeouts. Arredondo took over in the fourth, going 2 2/3 innings, allowing a run on a hit, four walks and two strikeouts.
Dylan Hamilton led the Cubs on offense with two singles.
The Yankees jumped ahead in the top of the first inning. Haidl singled and reached third on a wild pitch and a fielder’s choice. He scored on another wild pitch to give Ocean View a 1-0 lead.
Later in the inning, Pluma drove a two-out double into the gap in right-center field, scoring Brycen Janney and Lucas Harmicar for a 3-0 Ocean View advantage.
“I was just trying to get a single,” Pluma said. “Coach was telling me to shorten up my swing, and I got it.”
The Yankees added insurance runs in the second and sixth innings.
In the second, Taylor lined a leadoff triple to right field and then scored on an Unger sacrifice. In the sixth, Janney scored from second on a wild pitch, making it 5-0.
Though their offense struggled, the Cubs also received strong defense.
With two outs in the third inning and runners on first and third base, Cubs shortstop Trace Prescott tracked down a ground ball in the hole, on his backhand, and threw across his body, ending Ocean View’s threat on a bang-bang play at first.
Catcher Jack Arredondo caught back-to-back Yankees trying to steal second on wild pitches in the fifth inning. Manager Robert Arredondo said his team lost on a couple of well-placed hits that his defense couldn’t reach.
“We overplayed them,” he said. “They just hit a couple bloopers here and there that caught us off-guard.”
His team also matured.
“They came together as a team,” he said. “They supported each other. There’s nothing more that you want.”
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ANTHONY CIARDELLI is a contributor to Times Community News.