The Manhattan Beach All-Stars are one win away from a return trip to the Little League Senior Division World Series after defeating Northern California 11-0 in a mercy rule-shortened game Monday at Jay Littleton Ball Park.
Pitcher Carter Casady fired a two-hitter to lead the All-Stars into a rematch with Hawaii in the finals of the Little League Senior Division Championship at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The All-Stars to advance to World Series play.
In Monday’s other semifinal, Hawaii exploded for 12 runs in the third inning to defeat tournament host Chino 15-5.
Manhattan Beach manager Carlos Rojas said that even though his team is peaking at the right time, it will be the underdog against a Hawaii team that has been the talk of the tournament.
"Hawaii can hit, hit for power, field and pitch," Rojas said. "It will be like David and Goliath."
Some of the talk about Hilo has been less about baseball talent and more about the Hawaii team’s lack of sportsmanship.
The negative talk started Saturday after Hilo’s Kolten Yamaguchi hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning for a thrilling 8-7 win in a see-saw battle against Northern California in pool play.
The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin then reported Sunday that instead of congratulating Yamaguchi at the plate, a few Hawaii players crossed the diamond to taunt Northern California’s players and coaches verbally and with gestures.
When the teams lined up for the traditional post-game handshake, Hawaii manager Kaha Wong had to be restrained from going after Northern California manager Steven Moller and some of his players.
On Monday, with Little League officials on hand and umpires on the lookout to prevent more bad blood, things reportedly still boiled over quickly in the Hawaii-Chino contest.
After Hawaii’s Korin Medieros belted a three-run homer in the first inning of the semifinal victory over Chino, Hawaii coach Walter Silva turned to yell into the Chino dugout.
When the dust settled, both Silva and Chino coach Nick Ryan had been ejected. Silva will be ineligible to coach in Hawaii’s game Tuesday against Manhattan Beach.
Moller was subdued Monday in summing up his team’s seven-error performance against the Manhattan Beach All-Stars.
“We just didn’t play our game tonight,” he said. “If you would have seen how we played against Hawaii, that’s how we play.
“This is my fourth year coaching the all-stars,” said Moller, the junior varsity coach at Rocklin High School. “This is the best group of boys I’ve ever coached, both on and off the field.”
Rojas echoed Moller, saying he had warned his All-Star players that they were facing the best team in the tournament in Northern California.
But Northern California committed four fielding errors in the first inning Monday night, and Manhattan Beach capitalized with three unearned runs. David Odle’s run-scoring single was the big blow as the All-Stars led 3-0 after the top of the first.
Meanwhile, Casady retired the first eight batters he faced en route to his two-hit gem. He struck out six, walked two and hit one Northern California batter.
The only hiccup for Casady came with one out in the fourth, when Northern California loaded the bases on a single and two walks. But after a visit to the mound by Rojas, Casady induced a pop-up to catcher Gregory French and a lazy fly ball to centerfielder Kevin Lopez.
“There are points in a game where you lose your focus,” Casady said. “Coach came out to calm me down. He told me that I had a good defense behind me and to throw strikes.”
Jack Hadley singled to lead off the second inning for Manhattan Beach. He scored when Turner Conrad faked a bunt, instead slapping the ball into left-center to make the tally 4-0.
Manhattan Beach broke the game open in the fourth inning. Keyed by a Lopez run-scoring double, Manhattan Beach sent nine batters to the plate and scored five runs.
The team nearly batted around again in the fifth, getting eight players to the plate and scoring twice.
Hadley led Manhattan Beach’s nine-hit attack, going 2-for-2 with a walk, three runs scored and an RBI. Turner reached base three times on a hit, walk and an error and scored twice. Lopez was 2-for-4 with a double, single and a run scored.
Manhattan Beach got run production out of the catching corps. O’Reilly, who started behind the dish, doubled and scored a run, and French singled and scored.