Little League: Future teammates duel

LAGUNA NIGUEL— It was opposing dugouts Tuesday and the opposite end of a 7-4 outcome for rival leagues from Newport Beach competing in the the District 55 Majors Division All-Star Tournament.

But roughly half of both rosters from the Newport Beach American Little League and Newport Beach National Little League, will soon align forces to compete in a tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"Five guys from their [National] team are going, along with seven of our kids," said American Manager Dave Bock, whose team claimed victory Tuesday in an elimination game at Chapparosa Park.

With the win, the American All-Stars advance to another elimination game tonight at 7 against Rancho Niguel.

But regardless of what happens from here on in, the future teammates on the Bat Rays travel ball team will have plenty to talk about regarding Tuesday's showdown.

Newport Beach American took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, when Alex Lee lofted a three-run, opposite-field home run over the fence in right field.

But Newport Beach National responded with four runs of its own in the first inning, as four different players drove in runs.

A solo home run by Brenden Hueston capped a two-run third for Newport Beach American, giving it all it would need behind the strong pitching performance of Reed Quackenbush.

The winners added two insurance runs in the sixth to advance.

Quackenbush worked 5 1/3 innings of shutout relief and now has 7 1/3 innings in the tournament without allowing a run.

He entered the game in the first with two men on and got out of the jam when second baseman Jordan Hauser made a running, tumbling catch of a would-be single to shallow right field.

"That was a huge play," Bock said of Hauser's grab. "That ended the inning with two men on. That was as good as a two-run home run."

It was one of two sparkling catches by the visitors, the second being a sliding grab by charging center fielder Hueston to end the game.

The two sterling plays were emblomatic of errorless defense for Newport Beach American, which was bested, 7-6, in the hit department by Newport Beach National.

Lee and Hueston had two hits apiece for the winners, who also had an RBI single by Morgan Mannon.

Newport Beach American plated another run on a double-steal attempt with runners on first and third and one out in the third.

The final Newport Beach American run scored on an error, when Mannon's bouncer through the right side was bobbled in right field.

The aforementioned bobble was one of only two miscues by Newport Beach National, which received a combined 11 strikeouts from three pitchers, including six in two innings by Jack Trush, who finished the game.

National starter Gaston Bouchereau fanned three in two innings, while Luke Gardner also threw well for the home team.

Bouchereau was three for three with a walk to pace the National offense, which included RBI singles by Jonathan White and Ryan Stone.

Jack VanDalsem walked to drive in a run and Evan Clary plated another with a fielder's choice grounder.

But Quackenbush allowed just three hits while striking out two and walking four.

Quackenbush also benefited from a solid defensive play that thwarted a National uprising in the fourth.

After Bouchereau singled with one out, he was foced at second on Stephen Menzia's grounder up the middle. Trush, nicknamed Tank, followed with a blast over the right fielder's head that looked as if it might have also cleared the fence for a dinger.

Both National baserunners were fooled, in fact, allowing a strong throw from right fielder Robbie Rosoff and an accurate relay from shortstop Nick Premer to catch the runner rounding third for a 9-6-5-2-6 rundown that produced the final out.

"We practiced pickle plays and rundowns and we've executed two of them in four games," Bock said.

National Manager Jeff Gardner, a former Major League infielder and a product of Estancia High and Orange Coast College, praised his team's effort, not only Tuesday, but throughout the tournament.

"I thought we played really well [Tuesday] and we played well all three games," Gardner said. "I was actually really proud of the way the guys played for three days."

Menzia also had a hit for the National squad. He will be venturing to Cooperstown, along with teammates Tyler Chan, Luke Gardner, Clary and Jason Neiler.

Bock said American standouts Premer, Mannon, Lee, Hueston, Nicholas Fox and Conner Bock would be on the Bat Rays roster.

"After our next loss, we'll start practicing [for Cooperstown], Dave Bock said.

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