Winning blowout games doesn’t necessarily enshrine a team into greatness, but being able to win the close ones is often a mark associated with greatness.
Eastlake Little League’s 11/12 Division all-star team proved it has the mettle to win at a higher level after topping District 41 champion Rancho San Diego, 11-7, Tuesday night to capture the California Section 7 championship.
Eastlake’s 10/11 Division all-star team also emerged victorious in its championship game on Tuesday to claim the Section 7 title. It is believed to be a first for the league.
The history-making occasion was certainly not lost on Eastlake 11/12 Division manager Rick Tibbett.
“It feels great,” Tibbett said. “You put a lot of hard work in getting there and I know it’s been the same with the manager of our 10-year-old team. Knowing that we’re both going on to play another series, I’m happy.”
Eastlake crushed its opening two opponents in the 11/12 Division section tournament, defeating District 66 champion Twin Hills, 15-0, on Saturday and drubbing Rancho San Diego, 10-0, on Sunday.
RSD eliminated District 22 champion Brawley, 15-1, in Monday’s challenger bracket final, and the District 41 champions came prepared to challenge for the section title on Tuesday by taking a 7-2 lead on District 42 champion Eastlake.
“It was a tough, hard fought battle through the whole game,” Tibbett acknowledged.
Eastlake took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning but Rancho San Diego came back to score seven runs and go up by five runs after just two innings of play.
The District 42 champs showed they have what it takes to overcome adversity.
Eastlake started to chip away at the score, eventually tying and going ahead in the fourth inning, 8-7, and adding three more runs in the fifth inning to expand its lead to 11-7.
Home runs by Nick Mora (a three-run shot) and Jake Espinoza (a two-run blast) helped the cause. Charly Peterson came in to pitch in relief of starter Mora and held Rancho San Diego from there to pick up the win on the mound.
Grant Holman also contributed with a double that scored two runs.
Eastlake sent five balls over the fence for home runs in the 15-0 victory, with pitcher Rennard Williams earning the win.
Holman hurled a one-hitter in the 10-0 victory. Eastlake hammered six homers in that game.
The next stop for Eastlake is the Sub-Division III South tournament in Corona. Eastlake takes the field 3 p.m. on Saturday against the Section 10 champion.
It’s clearly been a team effort so far, and Tibbett said much of the same will be required to bring continued success.
“The next level will be a little harder,” the Eastlake manager conceded. “We’ll be facing five different teams from sections throughout Southern California. We don’t know a lot about those teams because some of them are from the Los Angeles area. We just have to get up there and see how we’ll do.
“But I’m confident that we have a good hitting ball club that will keep us in games and we have some good pitching. I think we’ll do well.”
For updated brackets, visit the District 42 website at www.eteamz.com/cad42.
Eastlake rolls lucky 7-0 to Section 7 championship
Eastlake Little League’s 9/10 Division all-star team remained undefeated in post-season play, improving to 7-0 overall, after defeating Rancho San Diego, 12-6, to capture the California Section 7 championship banner Tuesday evening in a game played at West Hills Little League.
Eastlake now has two championship banners to its credit this summer after previously claiming the District 42 championship in its age division.
Eastlake rallied from a 3-0 deficit to remain undefeated in post-season competition on Tuesday.
“The team continues to use a balanced approach that includes timely hitting, smart base-running, solid defense and effective pitching to win,” Eastlake manager Enrique Mayer said. “This is definitely a total team effort. Every player on the team has contributed in one way or another multiple times. They are a great group of kids that plays unselfishly and knows how to win.”
Eastlake finished 3-0 at the section tournament. The reigning District 42 champions opened the latest tourney by defeating District 66 champion Lemon Grove, 12-5, on Saturday and followed with an 11-6 victory against District 41 champion Rancho San Diego on Sunday.
RSD topped Lemon Grove, 10-0, in Monday’s challenger bracket final to draw a championship rematch against Eastlake.
Rancho San Diego led 3-0 until the bottom of the third inning when Eastlake’s bats came alive by scoring two runs in the third inning, five runs in the fourth inning and five more runs in the fifth inning.
Eastlake used a 14-hit attack to accomplish its mission, utilizing key bunts and excellent base-running to put up 12 runs, according to Mayer.
This was the fourth consecutive game that the team has scored in double-digit run totals.
Hitting leaders included Marcelo Mayer, Noah Lane, Quinn Roelofs, Alex Galaldon and Brandon Mora.
Mayer, a shortstop, had three hits and a walk and scored three runs while Lane had two hits, including one double, scored three runs and collected four RBI.
Roelofs had three hits, including one double, scored two runs and drove in three runs while Gabaldon had two hits and two RBI and Mora had two hits and scored two runs.
Mora, the only 9-year-old on the team, pitched three shutout innings in relief.
Benjamin Maldonado also pitched three innings in relief and allowed three runs.
The younger Mayer and Gabaldon, a second baseman, made multiple highlight plays on defense, according to the Eastlake manager.
The District 42 champions now advance to the Sub-Division III South tournament that will be hosted July 20-25 by District 33 Chollas Lake. District 33 will also host the Division III state championship round (July 28-29), which will end play at this age level.
Luckie Waller’s Senior Division team dropped an 8-0 decision to District 66 champion Spring Valley in Tuesday’s championship game. The District 42 champions had evened the best-of-three series with an 8-7 win on Monday. Spring Valley won Saturday’s opener 11-1.