The Laguna Beach Little League Majors All-Star team couldn't maintain a late-inning lead Wednesday and had its run in the District 55 All-Star Tournament come to an end.
Laguna held a 5-4 lead heading into the top of fifth inning against Rancho Niguel, but was outscored, 5-1, over the final two innings and was saddled with a 9-6 loss in an elimination game.
Rancho Niguel scored six runs on seven errors to move on to another elimination game Friday against either undefeated Laguna Hills or once-beaten Central Irvine. Lake Forest and Aliso Viejo, the two other undefeated teams in the tournament, play each other Friday.
Dante Faicchio had a monstrous tournament for Laguna. He clubbed his fourth home run of tourney Wednesday night. He hit a home run in each of Laguna's four games. His first inning blast came with Cole Paxson on base.
Paxson went four for four for the night.
Laguna stayed alive in the tournament by routing Newport Beach American, 10-2, in an elimination game June 30. Faicchio hit a solo home run.
Laguna's tournament run began June 25 with a 7-3 victory over Lake Forest. Faicchio pitched 5 2/3 innings and struck out nine and Paxson notched a strikeout for the game's final out. Faicchio belted a two-run home run with Paxson on board in the first inning.
Laguna suffered its first tournament loss June 26 in a 3-2 setback to Central Irvine. Faicchio registered his first homer of the tourney, Paxson gave up two hits and struck out nine in a complete game and Laguna managed nine hits but stranded 10 runners on base.
Laguna Beach bowed out of the district playoffs following a 14-3 loss June 27 to Northwood.
The game was tight early. Northwood took a 2-0 lead but strong defensive plays, including a key play by Cole Fredlow, kept Laguna in the game. In the bottom of the third, hits by Grady Morgan, Josh McManus and Kolton Freeman, put Laguna in front for the first time, 3-2. From then on, however, Laguna bats went silent.
Morgan, playing center field, teamed with catcher Cole Fink on a nice defensive out at the plate in the top of the sixth.
Laguna's first tournament game was June 25 against Lake Forest. Laguna fell, 15-1. Laguna hitters came out swinging but the Lake Forest defense prevented the locals from getting on the scoreboard in the first three innings. Laguna's lone offensive highlight came in the fourth when Freeman hit an inside-the-park home run.