NHBA suffers setback in opener

NEWPORT BEACH — The Newport Harbor Baseball Assn. enjoyed one of the benefits of playing host to the Pony Mustang Southern California Central Region Tournament.

The team didn't have to advance out of two previous tournaments to make region. Getting to play on its home field at Bob Henry Park during region might be short lived.

Newport Harbor is on the brink of elimination after losing to Dana Point, 10-6, on Friday. The start to the tournament for the host got off to a bumpy one.

A bright spot for Newport Harbor was it put up a fight in its final at-bat. After scoring just one run in the first five innings, Newport Harbor produced five runs in the top of the sixth.

"I love the fight that we have in them," said Jeff Duncan, Newport Harbor's manager. "We turn the page and come back tomorrow.

"Our next loss, we're out of here."

Newport Harbor drops to the elimination bracket. The team looks to stay in the tournament.

Newport Harbor faces Fountain Valley's No. 2 team on Saturday at 3 p.m. Duncan said he's more familiar with Fountain Valley's No. 1 team than its No. 2 team.

A coach from the next opponent got a close look at Newport Harbor after Fountain Valley's No. 2 team lost to Mission Viejo, 11-0, in its opener. The coach almost saw Newport Harbor rally late against Dana Point the same way his Fountain Valley No. 2 team did at section.

Dana Point found itself in a bases loaded jam after Jarrett Thompson singled. The next batter, Jack Bibb, went the other way and drove in two runs with a double down the left-field line.

Johnny Brigandi picked up a runner with a single. He cut the deficit to 10-5.

A fielding error on a grounder hit by Braham Duncan made it a four-run game. With two out, Newport Harbor had runners in scoring position.

Tyler Moran ended the threat. The Dana Point reliever struck out a batter looking for the final out.

"We played them once about three weeks ago. We lost to them, 18-11. We've had bad games in both of them," Jeff Duncan said. "I think they're a very beatable team. Errors and walks just kind of kill us."

The game was scoreless after the first inning. The team to strike first was Dana Point in the second inning.

With runners on the corners, Dana Point sent both runners. The one taking off for second was out, but the key run made it home safely without a throw.

Newport Harbor put itself in a situation to respond in the top of the third inning. Thompson led off with a single to left field and he moved to third base on consecutive steals.

After Kyle Binford drew a walk, he took off for second base. He swiped the bag, giving Newport Harbor two runners in scoring position.

But starter Robert Gonzalez got out of the jam. He struck out the next batter and induced a groundout, keeping Dana Point's 1-0 lead intact.

Dana Point piled on more runs in the bottom of the third inning. Three errors and a balk by Newport Harbor helped Dana Point score five runs and go ahead, 6-0.

In the fourth inning, Dana Point added three runs, more than enough to get past Newport Harbor.


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