The Newport Harbor Baseball Assn. Mustang under-9 All-Stars went into their Sunday afternoon game against Garden Grove with plenty on the line.
In Sunday's sectional final played at Bob Henry Park in Newport Beach, a win would advance them through to the following week's regional tournament. A loss would mean the end of their season. Standing in their way was the Garden Grove squad that had handily beat Newport just three days earlier, 10-4. But this time, NHBA turned the tables for a 11-5 to advance to the regional tournament.
NHBA scored two runs in the top of the first inning on RBI singles by Clay Liolios and Trey Genova.
Garden Grove came right back to post two runs of their own in the bottom half.
In the second inning, an RBI single by Kyle Binford put Newport up, 3-2, but a run in the bottom of the inning by the Garden Grove squad evened the score again at 3-3.
Finally, in the third inning, the Newport offense exploded for five runs staking a lead that they would never surrender. Consecutive hits by Genova, Christian Green, Luke Hatfield, Johnny Brigandi and Luke Bashore put Newport in command of the game, taking an 8-3 lead.
Though Garden Grove would come back to score two in their half of the third, that would be the last runs they scored for the day.
Braham Duncan pitched no-hit baseball over the final three frames, striking out four to secure the victory.
The explosive Newport offense was capped off by a Tetairoa McMillan two-run single in the sixth putting the final score at 11-5. Bashore collected three hits on the afternoon while Binford, Genova and Liolios chipped in two hits each.
On Saturday, Newport easily beat the Irvine All-Star team, 11-1. Jack Hopkins had the season's most impressive pitching performance, as he delivered a complete-game one-hitter to get the win and set up Sunday's showdown against Garden Grove. Ben Kwong and Logan Pence also made huge contributions — at the plate and in the field — over the four-day tourney.
The 9-year-olds will pack up and head to Placentia later this week to start the Mustang 9U regional tournament.
— From staff reports