In scorching heat, Matthew Carlin sparked the Newport Beach Baseball Assn. 10-and-under team with pure hustle.
Carlin beat a throw to first base, keeping the third inning alive and Newport Beach went on to break a tie and take a two-run lead. That was enough for Newport Beach to beat Dana Point B 5-2 in Thursday’s PONY Mustang Section opener at Del Obispo Community Park in Dana Point.
Facing a full count, two outs and a 1-1 tie, Carlin sputtered a grounder over to third base, destined to end the inning. He raced to first base to beat the throw, giving the offense new life.
“Matthew has confidence, for sure,” Newport Beach coach Damon Johnson said. “We had a bad call on a strikeout just before, and he responded. Great athlete and solid ballplayer.”
A wild pitch and a Charlie Kaster triple sent Carlin home to give Newport Beach a 2-1 lead. Another wild pitch gave Kaster just enough time to beat the catcher’s glove, extending the lead to 3-1.
Newport Beach leaned on twin brothers Caden and Colton Moosman to survive the early innings.
Caden, a left-hander and two minutes older than Colton, started at pitcher, but hurled a couple wild pitches to find himself with runners on the corners. He proceeded to strike out the next two Dana Point batters, ending the inning with no damage.
Colton, the righty, smacked a double into right field to lead off the bottom of the first. He stole third, then opened the scoring after a Carlin rope down the left-field line.
“It almost hit me,” Colton said with a laugh as he jogged to the dugout.
Colton replaced Caden in the second inning after two quick walks. A couple grounders advanced runners, and a fielder’s choice let Dana Point tie it.
Colton started eliminating Dana Point batters in quick succession. It took only five pitches to force two grounders and a pop out to end the top of the fourth. Kellan Stout snagged the final out while jammed against the foul fence.
“Those pitchers are our horses,” Johnson said. “It was great that they all stayed within their pitch count, and with the day off, everyone gets the necessary rest.”
The rest of the lineup fed off the defensive momentum in the fourth inning. Caden and Brooks Johnson belted consecutive singles to get the ball rolling. Johnson narrowly dipped under the third baseman’s tag to steal third. A wild pitch gave Newport Beach its fourth run.
Pete Schulze, who turned 10 years old on Thursday, cracked a sacrifice fly into deep center field to stretch the lead to 5-1.
Johnson filled in at pitcher in the fifth inning, and the defense didn’t miss a beat. Two grounders and a strike out made quick business out of the side.
While a Dana Point batter nearly catapulted a Johnson pitch in the sixth inning over the center-field wall, it dropped just in time for only a double. Johnson struck out the next three batters to end the game.
Newport Beach returns to Del Obispo Community Park on Saturday at 10:15 a.m. for the semifinals against Seal Beach.
If Newport Beach wins on Saturday, it advances to the sectional championship Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The top two finishers compete in the regional tournament on July 12 in Irvine.
“We definitely want Seal Beach,” Johnson said. “We just played them in a back-and-forth game. We only trailed by a run late, and Caden cracked a shot to center field that should’ve given us extra bases. They cut it off, though, and ended things quickly after.”