Little League: Pimco halts Murray's upset run

CORONA DEL MAR — After a week's worth of postseason drama for both teams, Saturday's Newport Beach Little League Triple-A division championship game could only manage about an inning's worth of suspense.

Pimco, which unexpectedly found itself battling out of the playoff loser's bracket, after dominating the American League regular season, took on Murray Home Theater, which finished fifth in the National regular-season standings, only to knock off the four teams that finished ahead of it to reach the division final at Lincoln Elementary.

After Murray seized a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Pimco answered back to record a 13-3 triumph in a game that was halted due to the 10-run mercy rule with Pimco still batting in the fifth inning of the scheduled six-inning showdown.

Murray began with singles by Ben Holton, Drew Hoffman and John Rosenblum and all three came around to score as Rosenblum notched a pair of runs batted in and Dean Shaw added an RBI while grounding out.

But Murray accounted for only one hit after that, as three pitchers combined to stifle the designated visitors.

Meanwhile, there was no stopping the Pimco offense, for which nine players had hits, nine scored runs and all 11 reached base at least once.

"We hit the ball as well as we have all year," Pimco Manager Brady Butcher said after his team completed the season with a 19-2 record. We got runners on and we scored runs, which is the key to Triple-A baseball."

Caden Dewey led the 13-hit attack by going three for three with two RBIs and three runs. He also pitched a scoreless inning of relief.

Blake Butcher was two for three with four RBIs, including a three-run double in the fourth inning that carried well over the center fielder's head.

Shawn Frome was two for three with one RBI and one run, while Michael Vaughan drove in two with a double and a bases-loaded walk.

Mikey Wein singled in a run, walked and scored twice in three plate appearances, while Andrew McDonald went one for three with two runs.

Aiden Gamez singled and scored, while Connor MacDonald and Mile Puchner both had singles and both Evan Egerstrom and Zack Wein scored runs for the winners.

Mikey Wein worked the first two innings on the mound for Pimco. Adam McDonald, who later won the Triple-A Sportsmanship Award, pitched the third and fourth innings, allowing no hits and no runs and striking out two.

Dewey finished with one scoreless inning of relief in which he did not allow a hit.

Murray also used three pitchers, with starter Vinny Provenza giving way to Chris Casey with two outs in the second.

Casey worked into the fourth, before handing the ball to Holton, the only 9-year-old on a team of 10- and 11-year-old players.

Taylor Clark, who Murray Home Theater Manager Steve Shaw later said came through with key hits throughout the team's unlikely playoff run, singled with two outs in the second for the last of his team's hits.

After the first inning, only one Murray runner reached third base.

In addition to its 13 hits, Pimco benefited from four errors that led to four unearned runs. What's more, Murray pitchers walked three and hit a batter.

The 10-run margin occurred only a handful of times all season, for Pimco. But the elder Butcher said his team regularly scored double-digit runs.

"We did dominate for the most part," Brady Butcher said. "I got lucky in the draft room. I knew a lot of the 10-year-old kids, but I didn't know many of the 11-year-olds [on draft day]. So [winning the title] was a surprise, but a nice one."

Assisting Butcher as coaches were John Dewey and Walter Frame.

Additional contributors for Murray Home Theater were Dean Shaw, Cole MacKinnon, Ryan Fults, Dylan Hamm, JJ Hodson, Owen MacKinnon and Henry Riddell. Riddell missed Saturday's game while on a family vacation.

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