Rossin Steel, a Newport Harbor Baseball Assn. Mustang Division team, had plenty on the line as it entered the championship game this past Sunday. The team had not lost a game all season.
Opponents were ready for team 'Steel', as the team battled through the playoffs coming from behind twice to win.
The finale, played at Bob Henry Park in Newport Beach, matched the No. 2-seeded team, A-Market, against top-seeded Steel.
Steel took an early advantage with singles by Luke Bashore, Grady Birmingham and John Christensen. After one inning, Steel was on top 5-2.
Quinn Bobinkski continued to pitch strikes coming on the mound in the third after Bashore's two innings. However, A-Market closed the gap and Steel's lead was 7-5 after three innings.
Trent Liolios added a single, and pitched a no-hit inning to keep the game tight at 7-5 after four innings.
Ryan Guidotti, Jack Blackman and Blake Byers continued with their solid contribution by making big plays from third base and the outfield.
Closer Jarrett Thompson came on the mound in the fifth inning and continued to pitch heat as he did all season. But the momentum started to shift as A-Market began to rally back. With the game tied at 7-7, Birmingham made a key play at the plate tagging out the go-ahead runner to keep the game tied after five.
In the top of the sixth and final inning, Thompson was walked to first base. The next batter, Bashore, hit a triple, scoring Thompson then advancing to home on a passed ball as Steel took at 9-7 lead. Later in the inning, Birmingham singled and Finn McClintock added an RBI. Heading onto the bottom of the sixth, Steel was up 11-7 and was feeling that victory within reach.
After the first A-Market batter singled and next batter struck out, Tyler Kaplan caught a high fly ball to get Steel within one out away of the championship. Thompson struck out the final batter and the dog pile then began.
Scott Liolios, with coaches Todd Bashore, and Matt Kaplan managed the team.
— Reader submission
Team overcomes odds to win title
The Newport Harbor Baseball Assn. 12-and-under Rossin Steel team was not favored to win the Bronco Division title.
After losing in the second round of playoffs, the team had to play through the loser's bracket to make it back to the championship game this past Sunday. At Mariner's Park in Newport Beach, Rossin was matched up against the No. 1-seeded team, Farmers Insurance. Rossin Steel had to beat Farmers twice in one day to win the title.
In game one, Rossin used four different pitchers in order to keep gas in the tank for a possible second game. Josh Griffith started on the mound followed by Jake Bashore, then Fynn Springston and finally closer AJ Stefano.
Brent Valentine hit a strong double, with Lucas Mowery and Jack Rogers contributing with key singles. Lucas Baia had a perfectly timed RBI and the game was tied at five after five innings.
Going into the sixth inning Stefano hit his second single on the day and Rossin held on for a 7-5 victory in the first game.
The confidence began to build in the second game, but Rossin would have to beat Farmerss again in the same day to claim the title.
Rossin brought the bats as Bashore hit a single on the first pitch. Stefano continued to stay hot and drove in Bashore and the game was tied at one after one inning.
Springston was having a spectacular day on the mound lasting for five innings and only giving up one run. The defense was behind the pitcher as Luke Beehler continued to impress with his outfield play. Jack Pitchess made the play of the year with a diving catch in center field landing just before the outfield fence. Add on an unassisted double play by Bashore at third and this team was not going to let down.
While the defense held strong, the Rossin offense was just getting started. Quinn Richards and Pitchess each singled and Rossin had a lead of 3-1 after five innings. Add on multiple hits by Griffith, Mowery and Stefano, and going into the bottom of the seventh and last inning, Rossin held a 5–1 advantage.
In the final inning, Stefano did what he had done all year and struck out the final two batters to get the win.
The team was managed by Rob Stefano, with coaches John Richards and Tom Springston.
— Reader submission
TH Hoops takes second at tourney
The TH Hoops Basketball Club's boys' 10U team took second place at the Hoops Rule Tournament in its division last weekend at the inaugural games at the MAPS facility in Garden Grove .
Going undefeated heading into the championship game, TH Hoops displayed a solid performance by defeating Open Gym Basketball, 35-11, Newport Lightning III, 48-22, and a commanding 10-point victory against the Whittier Crossover, 31-21 before matching up with Moore Game Elite in the finale.
The title game featured the aggressive defense by TH Hoops, but the balance of Moore Game Elite was too much to overcome.
The club was led by the stellar play throughout the tournament by Tim Bahadoor (23 points, 27 rebounds), Kieran Sidebotham (19 points, 11 rebounds, six steals), Caleb Cowles (18 points, 15 rebounds), Danny Hatch (31 points, 10 steals and 2.5 assists), Cole Mccunniff (13 points, 20 rebounds, seven assists, six steals, seven blocks), Collin Abe (13 points, 10 steals, three assists), Nate Johnston (five points, 12 rebounds, two blocks) and Alee Assadian (nine points, two rebounds)
Bahadoor hit key buckets, while the backcourt combination of Sidebotham and Abe took care of business on the defensive end and. Mccunniff, Cowles with Johnston dominated the boards for TH Hoops.
Contributing off the bench, Assadian, Johnston and Hatch provided key minutes and depth throughout the weekend tournament for TH Hoops.
The TH Hoops program is preparing for their Summer Basketball league at the Costa Mesa downtown recreation center beginning June 23.
— Reader submission