They did it.
With their backs against the wall and needing to win two games Tuesday to keep their season alive, the Ocean View Little League Majors All-Stars rose to the occasion twice to capture the Section 10 championship.
Ocean View was one loss away from seeing its postseason run halted. Instead, the locals turned the tables on a San Clemente National team that, four days earlier, had handed Ocean View a 9-0 tournament-opening defeat. Tuesday at Tijeras Creek Little League in Rancho Santa Margarita, Ocean View first defeated San Clemente National, 12-2, to force a second, winner-takes-all game, which it held on to win, 10-9, to move on to the Sub-Divisional tournament this weekend.
Ocean View opens the Sub-Divisional at 4 p.m. Sunday on the same Tijeras Creek field. The All-Stars drew a first-round bye and will meet the winner of Saturday's game between Section 6 and Section 9.
Ocean View is just one of 10 Little League All-Star teams alive in the Southern California region.
"The kids showed what they are made of tonight," Ocean View Manager Tod Minato said. "They stepped up to the challenge and I'm proud of the way they handled the pressure."
Ocean View showed little signs of feeling the pressure in the first game, needing just four innings to produce the mercy-rule win. Logan Pouelsen pitched all four innings and struck out five. He also contributed two hits to an offense that saw Nick Pratto club a three-run home run in the third inning and Chad Minato, Steven Gingery, Armando Duarte and Hunter Jackson each record two hits.
"Sean and I were really pleased with the way the kids came out and played with confidence and motivation," Tod Minato said of he and Coach Sean Pouelsen. "The boys did a great job. But I give that team (San Clemente National) a lot of credit. They came out really fired up in that second game and put us in a hole. They are a very good team."
San Clemente National jumped on Ocean View for three first-inning runs to take the lead in the decisive second game. That lead evaporated in the top half of the second, where Ocean View turned eight singles into seven runs to move in front, 7-3. But San Clemente National wasn't done and scored three runs in the bottom of the second and one in the third, to tie the score at 7.
But just as it had earlier in the game, Ocean View came right back, this time using back-to-back home runs by Duarte — who hit a two-run homer — and Jackson to build a 10-7 lead. San Clemente National got two runs back in the bottom of the sixth to pull within a run and had the tying run at third base, but Pratto, who pitched the final 4 1/3 innings, ended the game on a strikeout.
After starting the Section 10 tournament with a rousing win over District 68 champion South Mission Viejo, Ocean View saw its postseason run come to an end Monday at Westminster Little League in a 6-5 loss to the same South Mission Viejo team.
Ocean View started tournament play Saturday with a 15-1 mercy-rule win over South Mission Viejo. On Sunday, Ocean View fell, 12-3, to Aliso Viejo (District 55), a loss that set up an elimination game and rematch Monday with South Mission Viejo.
"I'm proud of these guys for getting as far as they did in All-Stars," Ocean View Manager Tony Cianca said. "It was a good run."
Ocean View reached the Section 10 tournament by going 4-0 earlier this month to win the District 62 title.
Huntington Valley, champion of District 62, was eliminated from Section 10 title contention over the weekend after suffering a pair of tough-luck, one-run losses.
The first setback came Saturday when Huntington Valley fell, 4-3, to Tijeras Creek (District 68) at Woodfield Park in Aliso Viejo. On Sunday, the locals saw a three-run lead disappear in the bottom of the sixth as West Garden Grove (District 46) pulled out an 11-10 victory.
In Saturday's game, Huntington Valley starting pitcher Chase Hanson gave up a lead-off walk and run-scoring double in the first inning, but wouldn't give up another hit over the next three innings. He was forced to leave the game after reaching his pitch limit with Huntington Valley trailing, 1-0. West Garden Grove went on to score three more runs in the top of the fifth to open up a 4-0 lead. Ocean View responded in the bottom of the fifth when Luke Glascoe's RBI double to right-center field scored Warner Reither, who had singled.
Ocean View scored its final two runs, both with two out, in the bottom of the sixth. Jake Adams started the frame with a lead-off double and Michael Marquez singled before Reither's second hit of the day scored Adams. Davis Smith followed with an RBI single to score Marquez to bring Huntington Valley within 4-3. But with runners at first and second, a strikeout ended the game.
On Sunday, Huntington Valley pieced together a two-out, four-run rally in to top of the first to go up, 4-0, on West Garden Grove, which retaliated with a run in the bottom of the first and pushed across five more runs in the second to take its first lead at 6-5. Huntington Valley regained the lead at 8-7 after four innings and took a 10-7 lead into the bottom of the sixth. There, West Garden Grove was able to score the final four runs to pull out a one-run victory. Adams went two for three with two RBIs, Austin Heberden went three for three with two doubles and Connor Sandford had an RBI.
"Initially, it was frustrating to lose two very close games," Huntington Valley Manager Scott Glascoe said. "Looking back, these kids really battled. I'm proud of the way the kids battled in both of these games. They'd get down, but they'd come right back.
"The kids played excellent baseball in these two (District, Section 10) tournaments. It's a great accomplishment to win District 62, and I think that's what the kids will remember. They gave it their all and they've worked hard from June 15 through July 18. Now, they can enjoy the rest of summer."