Ocean View headed to Western Regionals

It may be considered a rare return engagement, but it's a reservation that has been secured by the Ocean View Little League Majors All-Star team.

Ocean View joined some elite company by earned a coveted spot in the 2011 Little League World Series Western Regional tournament in San Bernardino by cruising last weekend to the Southern California Divisional tournament championship.

The locals pummeled Encino twice at Cortez Park in West Covina to repeat as Southern California champions, winning the event by a 21-run differential. Ocean View began the tournament Saturday with a 12-1, four-inning, mercy-rule win, then emphatically wrapped up the best-of-three series Sunday with an 11-1 triumph.

Ocean View, which won District 62 and Section 10 tournament titles before claiming the Southern California Divisional banner, begins Western Regional play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Red Bluff Little League of Northern California at Al Houghton Stadium.

"We've played some really tough teams along the way," Ocean View Manager Jeff Pratto said. "We didn't know too much about Encino. We went into the Southern California final relaxed and playing well. I was happy that we stuck it to them early in both games."

Nick Pratto clubbed a two-run home run in the top of the first inning Saturday to get Ocean View off and running. Trevor Windisch and Anthony Martinez both smacked three-run homers in the second inning.

Hagen Danner gave a dominating performance on the mound and at the plate. He gave up only a run and on offense, he hit a solo home run in the top of the third and scored three times. Reliever Ryo Takada shut down Encino in the bottom of the fourth.

On Sunday, Nick Pratto's outstanding pitching tamed Encino. The left-hander struck out nine and allowed three hits and a run in five innings. The 12-year-old also had a big hand on the offensive side of things with three hits, a run batted in and a un scored.

Danner set the tone offensively for Ocean View. He was four for four with two home runs to account for four RBIs. Danner and Windisch hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning. Windisch finished with three hits and scored twice. He started the sixth in replace of Pratto and went on to strike out the side to end the game.

"Our pitching was outstanding over both games and our sticks were clicking on all cylinders, power, gap shots, and hard-hit balls to all fields," Jeff Pratto said. "The boys are starting to really put the complete game together throughout the entire lineup.

"We're very optimistic about our chances in San Bernardino and will continue to play hard and see what we can do."

Ocean View is only Little League from Southern California to reach the Western Regional four times (1966, 2000, 2010, 2011). The league finished runner-up to the title in 2000 and last year.

Ocean View also became just the third league in Southern California to earn a repeat trip to San Bernardino. Northwood of Irvine did it in 1987 and 1988 and Long Beach went back-to-back in the 1992 and 1993 seasons.

"That's a pretty great accomplishment," said Jeff Pratto, who is in his first year as manager of Ocean View's 12-year-old All-Star team.

Ocean View went to San Bernardino last year under Manager Tod Minato, who this year managed the league's 9/10 All-Star team.

Ocean View and Washington Little League, the state champion from Utah, both played in the regional last year and are the lone returning leagues in this year's event. Nick Pratto and Hagen Danner are the two returning players from last year's Ocean View team that reached the regional title game won by Waipio (Hawaii).

"A few of us know what the experience is like and we had a lot of fun last year," said Nick Pratto, who in addition to pitching, plays first base and center field and is the son of Manager Jeff Pratto. "It's pretty cool to see teams from other states, to talk with players from Alaska and hang with the players from Hawaii.

"We're going into the regional pretty confident but we don't want to get too cocky. We just need to continue to do what we've been doing and just play our game."

Windisch and Christian Catano both are going to San Bernardino for the first time as All-Star team members. Both played on Ocean View's 2010 10/11 All-Star team, but Catano was on family vacation last August when the Majors All-Stars played in the regional.

"I'm very excited to be going," said Catano, who plays center field, third base and second base. He turns 13 on Friday.

"From what I've heard, it's a really neat experience, seeing all these different teams from different states," he said. "I think we've been on a roll since winning district (District 62). We're playing really well."

Windisch agreed.

"I think this whole team is the reason we've done so well," said the 12-year-old who pitches and plays shortstop and second base. "We're deep in pitching, hit the ball hard and get on base a lot. Everyone chips in.

"I'm excited for this opportunity. Playing there (San Bernardino) is making one of two dreams come true."

And the other dream?

"To get to the Little League World Series."

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World