ALISO VIEJO — Aliso Viejo Little League is looking to repeat as District 55 Major Division All-Star champion. Newport Beach Little League is looking for its first district title in the league's history.
The contrast was hammered home in the first inning at Woodfield Park, as Aliso Viejo hammered three balls over the fence.
Aliso Viejo won the All-Star semifinal game Saturday night at Woodbury Park, 13-0, in four innings, ensuring its spot in Monday's district title game.
Newport Beach, which had won its first two games in the tournament, will have to regroup to win the double-elimination tournament and advance to sectionals. NBLL plays Laguna Niguel at 2 p.m. Sunday, needing a win to advance to a rematch against Aliso Viejo on Monday. NBLL would then need to beat Aliso Viejo twice, once Monday and once Tuesday, to claim the title.
Newport Beach Manager Nick Sherman believes his team is up to the task.
"They're really good," Sherman said of Aliso Viejo. "We can beat them, though. We really can. We can beat that team. They're just very focused; they're not going to make any errors. We've got to put our five or six runs up, and we can hold them to less than five or six. We can do it."
Another NBLL team ensured it will play for a district title Monday night. The Newport Beach American 9- and 10-year-old team mercied Rancho Niguel, 17-4, and will play for a historic title at 6 p.m. Monday back at Woodfield Park. Newport Beach American's 9- and 10-year-olds, who have not lost yet in the tournament, need just one win in two possible games to claim the title.
The Newport Beach Major Division team won the coin toss Saturday and elected to hit first, but Aliso Viejo pitcher Hunter Jump struck out the side. Newport starting pitcher Freddy Bloom took the mound in the bottom of the frame with most of his face covered in eye black.
The hosts didn't seem fazed. Aliso leadoff hitter Ryan Poirot sent the second pitch he saw over the center-field fence for a solo home run. Chris Pimentel, Neil Schuler and Luke Sigler each had RBI singles and another runner scored on a passed ball, padding Aliso's lead.
Sherman brought in Matt Thompson to pitch. Poirot didn't stop hitting, roping a two-RBI single back up the middle to make the score 7-0. Hunter Jump followed with a two-run homer to center, even deeper than Poirot's initial shot. Connor Kokx then hit the first pitch he saw over the fence to stretch the lead to 10-0.
The inning wouldn't end until Tyler Flood, Newport's third pitcher of the inning, induced a grounder to short from Aliso's 17th batter of the inning. The hosts were up, 12-0, after the half inning that lasted 30 minutes.
"Time and time again, these kids get it done," Aliso Manager Scott Poirot said. "All 13 kids on our team hit very well. We work a lot on hitting. I'm about to have Tommy John surgery. I'm just kidding, but no, my elbow's sore all the time. I throw to these kids all the time."
Jump, Jake Briones and Pimentel combined on a one-hitter, the hit being Harry Dill's infield single in the second inning. Jack Genova and Spencer Hook both reached via walk.
Sherman said Genova, who played catcher for most of Saturday night's game, likely will start at pitcher in Sunday's elimination game.