Sooners have arrived

 

Talk about peaking at the right time.

The Huntington Valley Sooners, a team known for its strong pitching staff during the course of the 2010 Little League regular season, added a potent offense to its arsenal during the District 62 Tournament of Champions.

That one-two punch led to a district banner.

The Sooners breezed to four consecutive victories over the past week, a run capped Saturday by a 10-0 victory over the Ocean View Cubs in the Majors division final at Wardlow Park, home of Huntington Valley Little League.

During the course of the tournament, Huntington Valley scored 48 runs. Sooners opponents? Manager Evan McFetridge said his team allowed only two runs – both unearned, and three runs, total.

The Sooners, the No. 2 team out of Huntington Valley, opened the district tournament with an 11-1 win over Costa Mesa National No. 1. Then came a 14-1 decision over Costa Mesa National No. 2 and a 13-1 semifinal win June 17 over Seaview No. 1. The Cubs were the No. 1 team out of Ocean View.

Saturday's championship game was called after four innings.

"We really weren't an offensive team during the regular season," McFetridge said. "We were known as a pitching team. But in this tournament, the boys just exploded. It just wasn't one guy – it was all 12 guys.

"Our kids worked hard throughout the year. We got lucky and we got hot at the right time, and the guys bought into it. It was awesome to watch."

The teams were scoreless after one inning, although Huntington Valley threatened in the top of the frame with Nolan Barber on third base with two out. Barber unwittingly became the third out, however, when he was hit by a hard-hit line drive by teammate Eric Martinez. The Sooners, though, went on to take control of the game in the top of the second.

They scored their first runs on a two-run home run by Kane Varon who McFetridge said hit the "first home run of his life." McFetridge's son, Jake, sent a rocket of a hit 300-plus feet for a three-run home run later in the inning, to up the Sooners' lead to 5-0.

Jeremy Dorff hit a solo home run to cap a 6-0 inning.

Huntington Valley scored its final four runs in the top of the fourth. Jake McFetridge hit another long homer, this one accounting for two more runs for an 8-0 lead. The Sooners then strung together singles and doubles by Bryce Channel, Dominic Celano, Barber and Jake Pauley, to add two more runs for their 10-run total.

In addition to his two home runs that accounted for five runs, 6-foot-2, 215-pound Jake McFetridge, who turned 13 last week, threw a perfect game. He struck out 10 of the 12 batters he faced in four innings.

He, along with Barber and Dorff, were the formidable pitching trio the Sooners featured this year.

Saturday's win was McFetridge's third of the tournament.

Dorff had one victory in the tourney.

"It's not all me," Jake McFetridge said of winning the tournament. "My teammates really did a great job. This is a special team that hit the ball really well in the last four games."

The Sooners did: Barber hit three runs in the tournament, Cyrus Jafoudi made contributions at the plate and Channel, like Varon, hit his first Little League home run during a June 17 win over Seaview. But defense also played a key role and contributions on that side of the field came from Nick Warren, Davie Kim and Jake Laine.

Evan McFetridge, in his eighth and final year of coaching at Huntington Valley Little League, got his first district championship in his last go-round.

"This team peaked at the right time," said Evan McFetridge whose coaching staff includes Mike Dorff and Tim Channel. "This is a great way to end my coaching career at Huntington Valley Little League."

The Ocean View Cubs had reached the Majors final by edging the Huntington Valley Bruins, 1-0, in a semifinal game June 17. Steven Gingery pitched 5 2/3 innings with 14 strikeouts and Chad Minato finished the game to complete a no-hitter. Gingery, Minato, Jerritt O'Brien, Eric Anderson, and Chase Nelson had hits for the Cubs. Ryo Takada and Luke Williams also got on base and Williams scored on a wild pitch to account for the game's lone run.

Three other district banners were won Saturday, two by Robinwood teams at Wardlow Park.

In the Minor A division final, the Robinwood Angels edged the Westminster Bruins, 3-2. On the nearby Minor B field, the Robinwood Red Sox defeated the Ocean View Sea Dogs, 4-2. At Robinwood Little League, the Westminster Titans scored a 12-2 mercy rule victory over the Huntington Valley Red Raiders to win the Junior League title.

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