Proud A's bow out

HUNTINGTON BEACH — For more than a decade the Oakland Athletics have been known as a baseball team that has been successful by getting the most out of scrappy, lesser-known players.

No sabermetrics here, but this season in Costa Mesa American Little League Minor B Athletics Manager Mark Ingram perhaps had his own version of "moneyball" that might have made Billy Beane proud.

"We drafted the youngest team," Ingram said. "We had the only two 7-year-olds in the whole league, and four 8-year-olds. Most other teams had maybe one 8-year-old on the whole roster. We basically won with speed and enthusiasm, and I thought that was a really cool thing."

The Minor B Athletics were the only CMALL team to advance past the first round of the District 62 Tournament of Champions. Despite a big effort Tuesday they couldn't get further, suffering a season-ending 16-10 loss to the Ocean View Little League Generals in a quarterfinal game at Wardlow Park.

Ingram's A's had won seven straight games to get to this point, including three CMALL playoff games to capture the league title.

"Ten in a row was kind of the goal," he said, knowing that would mean a TOC title.

At times Tuesday, it looked like the A's would get there. They took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning when Joshua Klimkiewicz singled, stole second and eventually scored on an infield single by Luke Jones.

Jones was Costa Mesa American's starting pitcher Tuesday. He went 2 1/3 innings, exiting when his pitch count got to 35.

Ingram used six other pitchers before the game was over. They gave up a combined 14 walks. It helped Ocean View score five runs in the bottom of the third, grabbing a 5-2 lead.

"The goal was to win TOC, and you can't win TOC with just two pitchers," Ingram said. "You need at least four guys that are really going to do it. I thought I had three or four, but since they're so young they were kind of struggling out there on the mound. Basically, everybody was in tears, so I had to go [to the] next guy, next guy."

His team still rallied in the fourth. Dylan Matian led off with a walk, and Matthew Kehoe was hit by a pitch. Mark Blanco then hit an RBI single to left. After Sean McNaughton's walk, the bases were loaded.

Ingram's son, Simon, then cleared them. He hit a three-RBI double to the wall in right. By the time the inning had ended, Costa Mesa American had rallied for a 7-5 lead.

It reminded him of the first TOC victory for the A's, a 5-3 win over Seaview on Saturday when they also rallied. Blanco had a big two-RBI triple in that game.

But the Generals scored six runs in the fourth inning Tuesday, going ahead, 11-7. Costa Mesa American again rallied, to within a single run in the top of the fifth. Kehoe, the team's star pitcher who was unavailable on the mound after pitching Saturday, had the big hit with a two-RBI double.

But Ocean View scored five more times in the bottom of the frame for a 16-10 lead. Generals reliever Jeremy Roe retired the A's in the top of the sixth, but not before a long flyout to left by Simon Ingram.

"I hit two awesome bombs in the outfield," Simon Ingram said. "Mark, I think it was his first time pitching this season, and he pitched fireballs. It was an exciting game, but we played a pretty tough team and we went down. Good for them."

Jones was three for three for the A's, and Cole Schobel was two for three. Klimkiewicz was two for two, and Nathan Williams also walked and scored a run. Ethan Timms, Dylan Timms and William Bradford also contributed for the locals.

Schobel and Matian were the two 7-year-olds for the proud A's.

"[Costa Mesa American Little League] sent six teams to this tournament, and we were the only ones that got past the first-round game," Mark Ingram said. "I'm extremely proud of my kids."

Twitter: @mjszabo

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