FOUNTAIN VALLEY— Huntington Valley Little League 10- and-11-year-old All-Stars pitcher Jared Henry quietly kept pace with Costa Mesa National counterpart Brian Rodriguez.
Henry finished his complete game with a roar Tuesday, in a 3-1 Huntington Valley win at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley.
He helped Huntington Valley, the defending champion, advance to the District 62 All-Star tournament championship series against Ocean View.
Game time is 6 p.m. Wednesday at Field No. 12 at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley. Costa Mesa was ousted from the double-elimination tournament.
Ocean View only has to win once, as Huntington Valley must win Wednesday and the 6 p.m. game on Thursday at the same field, if necessary.
Huntington Valley manager Scott Glascoe said Jake Adams or Chase Hanson will likely start Wednesday.
"We get them again," Glascoe said. "I know they're looking for revenge. Each one of them played a role. As long as each one of them knows where the ball is and plays their game, nobody can beat us."
Henry struck out six of his seven batters in the final three innings, retired nine out of the final 11 hitters he faced and late in the game, retired six in a row. Henry primarily utilized his fastball to allow only five hits, one walk and an unearned run on a throwing error in the first inning that scored Matt Palma.
"The first three innings, I kind of struggled," Henry said. "I didn't know where to pitch them. The last three innings, I started to get this pitch better. I had this pace made up. It kind of worked out."
Kind of indeed. Henry was also the recipient of sound defense, beginning in the first. Costa Mesa National's Brian Rodriguez grounded out to Henry, who threw it to first baseman Michael Marquez for the first out. Marquez immediately caught Trevor Brown, who earlier reached on the error, lingering at second, and he was out instantly.
Henry allowed a single to Costa Mesa's Colby Arensdorf, and a throwing error would have allowed him to advance to second. But catcher Jake Adams nailed Arensdorf with a throw to second. Henry also stranded runners at first and third in the third.
"Jared got better as the game wore on," Glascoe said. "He pitched a phenomenal game."
Meanwhile, Rodriguez was humming on the mound, striking out five in the first three innings and getting nine out of his first 10 hitters out.
Then it all unraveled in the fourth, as Huntington Valley's bench contributed to all three runs scored in the inning. Rodriguez hit pinch hitter Werner Reither to lead it off, then Adams beat out a throw for an infield single. Derek Cleland grounded into a double play. Ethan Kemp pinch hit for Marquez and he walked.
"It was one of those games," Costa Mesa National manager Bee Jay Mazur said. "We hit the ball hard and right at guys. We had a lot of strikeouts without swinging. You've got to protect the plate. We had one bad inning."
Austin Heberden ripped a clutch RBI double to right-center that scored Kemp to tie the score at 1. Zac O'Hara pinch ran for Heberden, and he later hustled home on a wild pitch by Rodriguez, sliding underneath catcher Jack Sheets' tag for the go-ahead run. Heberden scored on an error by Palma, on a ball hit by another pinch hitter, Josh McFarland.
"It meant a lot to start the rally for my team with two outs," Heberden said.
Rodriguez pitched five innings. He allowed three hits and two earned runs, struck out eight and walked two.