Downed, but not out

PLACENTIA — The Newport Harbor Baseball Assn. had a chance to make history Monday.

Newport Harbor now must wait until Tuesday for a second chance.

Manager Denny Pender said Newport Harbor missed an opportunity to be the first NHBA team to get to the Pony Bronco Southern California Super Region Tournament in 18 years after it lost to Anaheim A, 14-4, in the central region championship game at the Placentia Champions Sports Complex.

Newport Harbor is still one victory away from reaching the super region. That is why Pender wore a smile, even though Anaheim A won via a 10-run mercy rule in the bottom of the sixth inning.

"We're still in it," said Pender, whose team plays the winner of Irvine A and Placentia A on Tuesday.

Newport Harbor returns to the same field at 5 p.m. for another shot at qualifying for the super region Thursday in Whittier.

The under-12 team is hoping for a better start than the one it turned in on Monday.

In the first two innings, either the batters failed to make contact against Newport Harbor's ace or they tagged his pitches over the fence. Anaheim A struck out three times early on, but it also homered that many times before Newport Harbor got its first six outs.

The long ball helped Anaheim A jump out to a 5-2 lead. The slugfest began when Robert Ibarra blasted a shot over the center-field fence.

Two batters later, Myles Thompson hit a high fly ball toward right-center. The ball looked playable, but the right fielder stood near the fence, never sticking his glove over the fence to make a catch. The ball landed a couple inches behind the fence for a two-run home run, putting Anaheim A up, 3-0.

In the following inning, Newport Harbor responded.

Cole Pender got onboard with a long single down the right-field line. His decision not to go for a double proved to be the correct one.

On one swing by Connor Kincaid, Newport Harbor cut the deficit to one. He belted a two-run home run to center field and Newport Harbor appeared to be back in the game.

But Anaheim A continued to swing for the fences.

After the leadoff batter struck out, Mickey Resendiz hit a solo home run to center field. Eddie Ureno knocked in another run, pushing the lead back to three runs for Anaheim A.

While Newport Harbor's bats struggled against starter Arthur Ibarra in the third and fourth innings, Anaheim A added a run to go ahead, 6-2. Then the ace for Anaheim A gave Newport Harbor some life in the fifth inning.

He walked the first batter he faced in Kelly Holgate. After allowing the left-hander batter to jog to first base, Newport Harbor's second straight lefty earned the right to trot around the bases.

Jake Genova pulled an inside pitch over the right-field fence. Newport Harbor was back in business, down, 6-4.

That was as close as Newport Harbor got. Ibarra got out of the fifth inning with a strikeout and inducing two groundouts.

Ibarra helped himself out when it was his turn to bat in the fifth.

With two runners on, Ibarra hit a high bouncer up the middle. The second baseman had a hard time fielding the ball and his throw to first was an errant one. One runner came around to score to put Anaheim A up, 7-4.

In the sixth inning, Anaheim A put an end to the game before the seventh. Robert Ibarra homered for a second time and Anaheim scored seven runs. The umpire called the game.

"We're in like the 26th game of All-Stars," said Pender, who wants to keep managing this summer.

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