Late error seals verdict on Sweetwater Valley 10U section all-star title

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A bit of luck never hurts and it can often play a big factor in teams winning championships. And so it played out for Sweetwater Valley Little League in Monday’s 10U California Section 7 championship all-star game at Spring Valley Little League.

Staring at a 2-1 deficit against District 66 champion Valley de Oro heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, Sweetwater Valley appeared all but headed for a championship game replay, especially when the District 42 champions found themselves down to their final out.

But shoddy play by Valley de Oro and an untimely throwing error allowed Sweetwater Valley to resurrect itself from the grave to post an unlikely — and thoroughly dramatic — 3-2 victory to lay claim to this year’s section banner.

Sweetwater Valley repeats as Section 7 champions and now advances to the Southern California-South Sub-Division III tournament taking place at Corona National Little League. Sweetwater Valley is scheduled to open sub-division play Thursday evening against the Section 8 champion.

“The lead changed three times before we finally came out on top,” Sweetwater Valley manager Kelly Besker noted of Monday’s thrilling section title game.

Sweetwater Valley entered the top of the sixth inning nursing a narrow 1-0 lead despite struggling at the plate for most of the game. The District 42 champions managed to scratch out a single run and that seemed to be enough behind SVLL pitcher Nico Libed, who had held Valley de Oro scoreless through the first five innings.

“Nico was throwing fire,” Besker said.

However, Valley de Oro tied the game on a ground-rule double in the top of the sixth inning and plated another run to knock Libed from the mound.

Diego Magallon entered the game in relief and managed to prevent further damage.

Libed surrendered two runs but struck out 10 batters, walked two and surrendered three hits during his time on the hill.
Valley de Oro might have gone up by two runs in the top of the sixth inning except for an appeal that negated one run.

Sweetwater Valley players made what Besker termed “a bang-bang play” on a sacrifice fly to the left field fence that proved critical to the team’s come-from-behind win. The play started with Ty Besker in left field throwing to Libed at the cutoff. Libed threw a laser to home plate where Hunter Stencil put down a sweep tag.

The Valley de Oro runner was initially called safe as he just beat the tag. However, the elder Besker appealed the play and the runner was called out for missing home plate as he slid by Stencil’s tag.

Valley de Oro would score the go-ahead run on the next pitch, however.

Sweetwater Valley entered the bottom of the sixth inning trailing by one run. Stencil reached base with a walk and was replaced with a pinch runner. An error ensued on the next play, with runners safe at first and second bases.

A fielder’s choice produced one out and a strikeout followed for two outs.

Facing a 3-2 count, Glen Huggins then hit a nubber to the pitcher but the throw to first base to apparently end the game — and force a championship rematch between the teams — glanced off the first baseman’s glove and rolled toward the fence. That allowed the two base runners — Jayson Smith and Jeremiah Cook — to score on the two-run throwing error and push Sweetwater Valley to a miraculous finish to steal the section banner.

Magallon recorded the win in relief for Sweetwater Valley, which finished 3-0 in section play.

CALIFORNIA SECTION 7 CHAMPIONSHIPS

Sweetwater Valley advances to Monday’s 10U Section 7 championship game, wins section banner

Sweetwater Valley shut out Cajon de Oro, 9-0, in Friday’s winners bracket game at Spring Valley Little League to advance to Monday’s section championship game against the winner of Sunday’s challenger bracket final between Cajon de Oro and Valley de Oro.

Sweetwater Valley improved to 2-0 in the four team double-elimination tournament.

Sweetwater Valley jumped out to an early lead on Cajon De Oro with six runs in the first three innings to put the game away early.

An RBI triple by Elijah Cook (his eighth in all-star tournament play), an RBI single by Nicholas Fahme (his ninth), a three-run home run by Hunter Stencil (his fourth home run to go with 15 RBI), and an RBI single by Ty Besker (his eighth RBI) in the second inning supplied the early offense for Sweetwater Valley.

Dominic Nankil also had a hot bat for the District 42 champions. He went 3-for-4 and scored two runs. He singled in the first and second innings and tripled in the fourth inning.

Nico Libed brought the heat against Cajon De Oro during his outing. Cajon De Oro managed just two hits off Libed, who allowed no earned runs, walked one and struck out six (20 strikeouts overall in all-star duty) during his three-and-one-third innings of work.

Sweetwater Valley LL increased its lead with three runs in the fourth inning. A sacrifice fly scored Nankil for the inning’s first run.

District 42 champions sweep California Section 7 openers

All three newly-minted California District 42 Little League champions won their opening games in the California Section 7 tournament that started earlier this week.

In fact, Sweetwater Valley’s 12U team did even better by winning its opening two games to advance to Friday’s section championship game.

Chula Vista American’s 11U all-star team defeated District 22 champion Calexico, 13-5, in Wednesday’s section opener at the CV American LL complex, joining District 41 champion Rancho San Diego in Thursday’s winners bracket final after RSD run-ruled District 66 champion Valley de Oro 15-5.

Sweetwater Valley’s 12U all-stars opened section play with a 10-0 mercy-rule victory over District 66 champion Lemon Grove Tuesday at West Hills Little League and continued their hot streak by defeating District 41 champion Rancho San Diego, 20-5, in Wednesday’s winners bracket final at Fletcher Hills Little League.

SVLL slammed six home runs in the opening inning to lead 10-0 in Wednesday’s winners bracket encounter.

Meanwhile, Sweetwater Valley’s 10U all-stars topped District 66 champion Valley de Oro, 14-7, in Tuesday’s section opener at Spring Valley Little League to advance to Friday’s winners bracket final against District 41 champion Cajon de Oro.

Highlight reel

Kyle Chapman’s two-run home run in the first inning boosted CV American to an early 2-0 lead over Calexico. CVA went up 7-3 on the strength of a five-run third inning and tacked on four more runs in the top of the fifth inning to zoom in front 11-3. The teams then traded two runs each in the two innings.

CV American sent nine batters to the plate in the third inning, trying the game on a bases-loaded walk to Aaron DeCasas, scoring two runs on wild pitches, another on a double steal and one run on a RBI-single by Christian Lizarraga.

Bret Leonhardt and DeCasas each were credited with two-run RBI singles in the fifth inning uprising while Kellin Ince and Leonhardt each picked up RBI singles in the sixth inning.

DeCasas, the second of five CVA pitchers in the game, picked up the win.

“We had a lot of base hits and aggressive base running,” CVA manager Javier Aguirre explained. “I think because of our aggressive base running that we put pressure on their pitcher and defense.”

Sweetwater Valley’s 12U all-stars — er, wrecking crew — continued to pound opponents with the long ball.

Antonio Andrade hit two homers in the first inning alone, including the first on the first pitch of the game, and added another homer in the third inning for three for the night. Dante Schmid hit a grand slam homer in the first inning and capped the SVLL scoring parade with a two-run homer in the top of the fourth inning. Ari Armas, Preston Fleming and Levi Mendez also hit solo home runs in the first inning run explosion.

Braiz Ramirez and Jake Baptista also contributed to the SVLL scoring parade with two-run triples.

Sweetwater Valley hit eight home runs in the game and now has hit 31 home runs in six games while out-scoring its opponents 109-6. The District 42 champions have only allowed 10 hits in six games. Andrade and Mendez each pitched two innings on Wednesday. They gave up a combined three hits.

All six games have ended after four innings due to the mercy rule.

“The rally monkey, Stars & Stripes, continues to work,” SVLL manager Ward Lannom said.

Rancho SD’s win in the 11U section opener also featured standout hitting. Paolo Medina hit a grand slam home run in the first inning to help power the Dawgs to an early 5-0 advanrtage while Wyatt Laub hit a walk-off two-run shot to end the game by virtue of the 10-run mercy rule.

Laub started the game, with Ethan Heider earning the win in relief. Weston Clark scored three runs for RSD in the blowout win.

CALIFORNIA DISTRICT 42 LITTLE LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Three-game winning streak puts Sweetwater Valley over the top in dramatic comeback showing

There’s no doubt that Sweetwater Valley Little League 10U all-star team received its share of competition in this year’s California District 42 tournament before emerging with the championship banner.

Sweetwater Valley won its opening two games in this year’s eight-team double-elimination tournament to advance to the winners bracket final against a likewise undefeated Imperial Beach team on July 9. Imperial Beach won, 6-3, in a seven-inning nail-biter to secure a berth in last weekend’s championship game.

Sweetwater Valley thus faced the unenviable task of winning three consecutive games to win the district banner while Imperial Beach needed only one more win.

Sweetwater Valley kept its championship dream alive by battling back to defeat Eastlake, 7-2, in last Friday’s challenger bracket final at the Sweetwater Valley Little League complex. Hunter Stencil led the winners with three RBI while starting pitcher Glen Huggins struck out five batters. The win advanced Sweetwater Valley to what amounted to a two-game championship showdown against Imperial Beach.

Sweetwater won Saturday’s game, 11-1, to force a championship replay on Sunday that Sweetwater Valley also won 15-8.

“After losing to Imperial Beach in the winners bracket game, I told the kids we had a big task ahead of us,” SVLL manager Kelly Besker explained. “We had to beat Eastlake a second time to get to championship on Saturday. We had to win three games in three days to win the whole thing. I told them we were a good enough team to get those three wins, but that they needed to play baseball the way they were capable of playing. If they played good sound baseball like they knew they could, we would be holding up a championship banner.”

The competition was on, in other words.

“We beat Eastlake and we knew we had an opportunity to show Imperial Beach we deserved to be in the championship games,” Besker said. “We went out and pretty much dominated the Saturday championship game. The kids were hungry and fired up to get the win to move onto Sunday’s ‘if game.’

“Before the game Sunday we spoke to the boys in the dugout about breaking the game down into single-inning games — the idea is to win more of those innings than the other team. I told them how proud I was for them playing their way into the championship game.

“This was one of those small times in life we will look back on and remember for getting to the championship game. I told them how much I enjoyed watching them play baseball together and how proud I was to be involved in a small part of their lives as their baseball coach.”

Saturday’s game was decided quickly as Sweetwater Valley exerted its will to win with nine runs in the first three innings.

A three-run home run by Stencil in the first inning and a two-run single by Nicolas Fahme during the second inning supplied the team’s early offense.

Stencil racked up three RBI on three hits for SVLL in the game.

Nico Libed allowed one run over two-and-two-thirds innings. He struck out three, walked none and surrendered two hits.

Sweetwater Valley piled up four runs in the top of the third inning. Jayson Smith singled, scoring Troy Fleming to start the frame. Elijah Cook doubled to bring home Chance Krueger and Smith.

SVLL increased its lead with two more runs in the fourth inning. Dominic Nankil singled to get things going, plating Libed.

Sweetwater Valley defeated Imperial Beach in a shootout on Sunday to win the district championship. The teams lit up the scoreboard by combining for 23 runs.

The elder Besker noted that hitters on both sides were strong at the plate, as the teams combined for 26 hits, including seven extra base hits. Sweetwater Valley racked up 15 hits, including four extra-base hits.

Sweetwater Valley scored three runs in the top of the first inning, braced by a by a two-run home run by Stencil, but IB held a 6-3 advantage after plating six runs in the bottom of the second inning.

It proved to be a battle from there, with Sweetwater Valley scoring three times in the top of the third inning and four times in the top of the fourth inning to take a 10-6 lead. SVLL tacked on three runs in the sixth inning on an RBI triple by Libed, an error and an RBI double by Nankil.

The teams traded runs for most of the contest, leading to five lead changes in the game.

“We began playing and there was a shift in momentum early — first for us and then against us,” the SVLL manager said. “The kids showed great resilience and a never-give-up attitude as they kept plugging along and chipping away, and eventually got the job done. They have great character and have come together very well as a baseball team. Sunday was another great team win to win the district championship.

“We will move forward and continue to strive to win one inning at a time in our quest to win the Section 7 championship.”

Kasey Regala got the win in relief for Sweetwater Valley by pitching three innings while allowing one run. Libed, Nankil, Stencil and Fahme combined for eight hits and six RBI.

California District 42 Little League All-Star tournaments

12U Division

Thursday, July 2

Sweetwater Valley 27, Chula Vista American 0 Chula Vista American Little League

Park View 16, Chula Vista National 0 at Eastlake Little League

Friday, July 3

Luckie Waller 7, Eastlake 5 at Eastlake Little League

Imperial Beach 10, Southwest 2 at Imperial Beach Little League

Monday, July 6

Sweetwater Valley  19, Park View 1 at Chula Vista American Little League

Imperial Beach 7, Luckie Waller 5 at Imperial Beach Little League, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, July 7

Southwest 4, Eastlake 3 at Imperial Beach Little League

Chula Vista American 12, Chula Vista National 1 at Chula Vista American Little League

Wednesday, July 8

Challenger bracket game at Chula Vista American Little League, Chula Vista American 5, Luckie Waller 3

Challenger bracket game at Eastlake Little League, Park View 14,. Southwest, 1

Thursday, July 9

Challenger bracket game at Eastlake Little League, Park View 8, Chula Vista American 7

Winner bracket final at Imperial Beach Little League, Sweetwater Valley 18, Imperial Beach 0

Friday, July 10

Challenger bracket final at Sweetwater Valley Little League, Park View 14, Imperial Beach 1

Saturday, July 11

Championship game at Sweetwater Valley Little League, Sweetwater Valley 14, Park View 0

11U Division

Friday, July 3

Chula Vista American 12, Sweetwater Valley 2 at Chula Vista American Little League

Park View 15, Eastlake 10 at Eastlake Little League

Monday, July 6

Chula Vista American 9, Park View 8 at Chula Vista Ameican Little League

Wednesday, July 7

Sweetwater Valley 8, Eastlake 7 at Chula Vista American Little League (completion of suspended game from Tuesday)

Thursday, July 9

Challenger bracket final at Imperial Beach Little Leauge, Park View 4, Sweetwater Valley 3

Saturday, July 11

Championship game at Sweetwater Valley Little League, Park View 11, Chula Vista American 10

Sunday, July 12
Championship game

Chula Vista American 9, Park View 8

10U Division

Thursday, July 2

Eastlake 18, Park View 2 at Eastlake Little League

Sweetwater Valley 14, Chula Vista American 8 at Chula Vista American Little League

Friday, July 3

Southwest 14, Chula Vista National 6 at Chula Vista American Little League

Imperial Beach 15, Luckie Waller 0 at Imperial Beach Little League, 6 p.m.

Monday, July 5

Sweetwater Valley 6, Eastlake 0 at Imperial Beach Little League, 5 p.m.

Imperial Beach 8, Luckie Waller 3 at Imperial Beach Little League, 6 p.m.

Tuesday, July 7

Chula Vista National 5, Luckie Waller 4 at Imperial Beach Little League

Park View 10, Chula Vista American 1 at Imperial Beach Little League

Wednesday, July 8

Challenger bracket game at Chula Vista American Little League, Southwest 8, Park View, 5

Challenger bracket game at Eastlake Little League, Eastlake 15, Chula Vista National 0

Thursday, July 9

Winners bracket final at Imperial Beach Little League, Imperial Beach 6, Sweetwater Valley 3 (7 innings)

Challenger bracket game at Eastlake Little League,  Eastlake 16, Southwest 6

Friday, July 10

Challenger bracket final at Sweetwater ValleyLittle League, Sweetwater Valley 7, Eastlake 2

Saturday, July 11

Championship game at Sweetwater Valley Little League, Sweetwater Valley 11, Imperial Beach 1

Sunday, July 12
Championship game

Sweetwater Valley 15, Imperial Beach 8

Junior Division

Championship series

Monday, July 6

Eastlake 3, Luckie Waller 2 at Eastlake Little League

Tuesday, July 7

Luckie Waller 6, Eastlake 5 at Eastlake Little League

Wednesday, July 8

Championship game: Eastlake 6, Luckie Waller 3 at Eastlake Little League

Senior Division

Championship series

Monday, June 22
Southwest 7, Luckie Waller 4

Wednesday, June 24
Luckie Waller 9, Southwest 6

Thursday, June 25
Southwest 7, Luckie Waller 0

Note: Southwest wins District 42 championship, advances  to the Section 7 tournament on Saturday, June 27, at noon at Spring Valley Little League.

California District 42 Little League
All-Star Tournament Champions

10U: Sweetwater Valley

11U: Chula Vista American

12U: Sweetwater Valley

Junior: Eastlake

California District 41 Little League
All-Star Tournament Champions

10U: Cajon De Oro

11U: Rancho San Diego

12U:Rancho San Diego

Junior Division: Rancho San Diego

 

California District 66 champions

Big League: Spring Valley Little League

Senior Division: Spring Valley Little League

Intermediate Division: Las Palmas Little League

Junior Division: Twin Hills Little League

12U: Lemon Grove

11U: Valley de Oro Little League

10U: Valley de Oro Little League

Late error seals verdict on Sweetwater Valley 10U section all-star title