The Costa Mesa American Little League 8- and 9-year-old Superstars were concerned about their offensive output through the first three games of the tournament.
On Wednesday, Costa Mesa American manager Casey Walker and his coaching staff held a practice primarily dedicated to hitting. It paid off.
Costa Mesa American had nine hits as a team, leading to an 11-1 victory in four innings over Seaview Little League on Thursday evening in an elimination game of the District 62 tournament at Fountain Valley Sports Park.
JJ Haley and Braedon Becker each had two hits in the contest for Costa Mesa American. Haley also drove in a team-high two runs at the plate with a hustle double to center field in the second inning.
“We’ve not been doing good hitting, so we really picked it up right now,” Haley said. “Our fielding is pretty good. Our base running, we need to work on a little, but I think we have a shot [at winning the District 62 tournament].
Costa Mesa American struck for four runs in the first inning, and it added another five runs in the second inning to jump out to a 9-1 lead.
“We had a practice yesterday for our hitting, and these boys responded from the practice,” Walker said. “They really believed in themselves today, and their defense has been strong throughout this whole All-Star tournament.
“Their hitting came alive today, and they were playing CMALL baseball.”
Logan Pinon, Parker Stringham, Ryder Holton, Anderson Shafer and Dylan Coulter each had one hit for Costa Mesa American.
Becker had two runs scored. Tanner Carden, Aidan Ramos, Jordan Lee, Pinon, Stringham, Haley, Holton, Shafer and Coulter each crossed the plate once.
Reid Walker reached base after being hit by a pitch, and Dylan Hugen drew a walk. Both plate appearances took place with the bases loaded, so each player got credited with a run batted in.
Nolan Piesik made a nice catch running toward the foul line in left field in the fourth inning, which would be the final out recorded by Holton on the mound.
“I kind of liked it,” Holton said of Piesik’s defensive play. “Even though he didn’t have to jump for it, he still made the play to make two outs.”
Holton went 3 2/3 innings, allowing one run on one hit. He struck out five and walked one.
The Costa Mesa American starting pitcher did not want to exit just one out away from a complete game, but his pitch count dictated the decision. Casey Walker wanted to keep him available for the team’s remaining games in the tournament.
Pinon came on in relief and induced a ground ball to Holton at third base for the final out.
After a solid win, a victor’s feast is in order. Jake Haley, the father of JJ and the principal at Costa Mesa High, said that they would be celebrating at In-N-Out Burger. That means that dad will be on the hook for a double-double with pickles, fries and a strawberry shake, JJ’s standard order.
Seaview scored its run in the first inning. Conner Daly led off with a single, and he scored on an RBI-ground out by Vincent Pirozzi.
Cash Hall showed a good glove at first base to pick a throw out of the dirt.
“They were fighting,” Seaview coach Brian Sparks said. “They definitely didn’t want it to end like this. We fought our last game, coming back from a couple [runs] down in the last inning [against Huntington West], and being able to play [more baseball].
“I was super proud of the kids for that, especially with a come-from-behind victory like that.”
Seaview went 2-2 in the District 62 tournament.
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