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Myszynski sparks D-Rays

June 16, 2006|By Matt Szabo

FOUNTAIN VALLEY ? The Costa Mesa American Little League Devil Rays' 4-0 lead had just shrunk to one run, and Manager Rick Luna went out to the mound.

He didn't ask starting pitcher Martin Myszynski much about his delivery or pitch selection. Instead, Luna asked a far more personal ? albeit rhetorical ? question.

"I asked him, 'What's your girlfriend's name?'" and he started to laugh," Luna said. "I wanted him to relax."

It worked, as Myszynski retired the final three Westminster Twins batters and the Devil Rays took a 4-3 win in a Majors Division first-round game of the District 62 Tournament of Champions at Mile Square Park.

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The Devil Rays will play the Ocean View White Sox on Saturday at noon, also at Mile Square Park, in the quarterfinals.

Standing just over 6-foot, the 12-year-old Myszynski was easily the tallest player on the field. And he played like it, allowing just one hit through the first five innings and helping his cause with a solo home run in the fifth inning.

The homer gave the Devil Rays their seemingly safe 4-0 lead. But it wound up being the deciding run.

"I was looking for that pitch," Myszynski said of his bomb, hit on a first-pitch fastball. "It gave me a boost because if I didn't hit, it would be a tie game [after six innings] and we'd have to go to extra innings."

The Devil Rays opened the scoring in the second inning. With one out, Brandon Lewis was hit by a pitch in the left shoulder. Steve Gutierrez followed with a single to right field, and the speedy Lewis, sprinting on contact, came around to score as the right fielder hesitated briefly before throwing late to the plate.

"I tried to get on base, and tried to play good," Lewis said. "But it was hard, because I was hurt."

Costa Mesa added another run in the third, when Myszynski's double to the wall scored Abel Huerta, who had singled and advanced to second on a passed ball.

The Devil Rays also tacked on in the fourth inning, when Jeff Duplex doubled down the right-field line and was driven home when Joshua Stubblefield lined a single to left field.

"Although we left a couple kids on base, we had a couple of good innings," Luna said. "That's what we needed."

Up, 4-0, headed into the sixth, the game appeared to be in hand. But the Twins' Christian De Santiago led off the inning with a single to center, and Brandon Ngo followed with a single to left.

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