Little League: Local teams to clash

Later this month, Jeff Gardner and Dave Bock will be managers for the same team that will play in a special tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y.

But next week, the two will be in different dugouts, squaring off against each other. The winner stays alive. The losing team is eliminated in the District 55 All-Stars Majors Tournament.

Many of the players on the teams that play Tuesday will be on the same squad headed to Cooperstown in two weeks.

But on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Chapparosa Park in Laguna Niguel, it will be Newport Beach American, coached by Bock, vs. Newport Beach National, coached by Gardner, a former Major League Baseball player and minor-league manager.

Because of the natural rivalry of the teams, Gardner knows better than to provide bulletin-board material for the NBLL American players.

"We played them in two practice games and they beat us up both games," he said. "I would definitely favor them. They have a lot more power arms than we do … I feel the other team is better coached."

Bock knows his counterpart all too well and didn't buy Gardner's words.

"Don't play cards with Gardner," Bock said. "They're well-coached. They practice hard. I've coached a number of those kids. We're pretty evenly matched."

Gardner was hoping to avoid a matchup against Newport Beach American this early in the tournament. He had his team playing in the quarterfinals of the winner's bracket Thursday night. But Newport Beach National fell to Laguna Hills, 3-1.

Gardner's team had two runners on base with one out in the sixth inning, but NBLL National ended the game with two strikeouts.

Gaston Bouchereau, Gardner's son, Luke Gardner, and Jack Trush pitched well, helping the team stay in the game.

Tyler Chan scored the National's lone run. Jason Neiger doubled for the National All-Stars.

Gardner said Laguna Hills' pitcher was the best his team had faced all year. He had a complete-game shutout.

Bock's team has found some momentum recently. NBLL American opened the tournament with a 14-0 loss, but bounced back with a 6-0 win over South Irvine Monday and a 12-0 victory against Central Irvine Wednesday in the elimination bracket.

Pitchers Reed Quackenbush, Conner Bock and Robbie Rosoff combined for the shutout Wednesday. Nick Premer, Griffin Vrabeck and Alex Lee each hit a home run.

Vrabeck and Lee both went two for two with a homer and a double each.

Dave Bock said he felt good about starting the tournament with a bye. But it didn't seem to matter against Aliso Viejo, which opened the tournament with an 11-1 win against Laguna Beach. Aliso Viejo has outscored teams, 36-1, in three games. But Bock admired the way his team responded with two victories.

But he knows Tuesday will be a very tough game.

There are three other teams from Newport Beach playing in the District 55 All-Stars Tournament in other divisions.

In the 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars tournament, Newport Beach National plays against Lake Forest in a winner's bracket semifinal game Thursday at 6 p.m. at Woodfield Park in Aliso Viejo.

In the 10- and 11-year-old All-Stars tournament, Newport Beach National plays against Northwood in an elimination game Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Hicks Canyon Park in Irvine. Newport Beach American will face Rancho Niguel in an elimination game Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Hicks Canyon Park.

In the District 62 Majors All-Stars Tournament, Costa Mesa National saw its season end Thursday, after a 7-4 loss to Huntington Valley. CMNLL had beaten Seaview, 7-0, Wednesday night to stay alive.

In the 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars tournament of District 62, Costa Mesa National was eliminated after losing, 6-1, to Ocean View Thursday.

Two Newport Harbor Baseball Assn. All-Star teams begin play in respective Pony SoCal West Region tournaments next week in Placentia.

The NHBA Bronco team of 11-year-olds play Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against Placentia.

The NHBA Mustang team of 9-year-olds play Thursday at 5 p.m.

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