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Capoccia at it again for Red Sox

BASEBALL: He homers, doubles and strikes out six in 2 1/3 innings, helping Red Sox reach District 62 TOC Majors semifinals.

June 17, 2008|By David Carrillo Peñaloza

HUNTINGTON BEACH — Deep down inside, Rob Turner felt confident going up against the favored Costa Mesa National Little League Majors Red Sox.

“To be honest with you,” said Turner, coach of the Westminster Little League Braves, “I thought we could play with them. Man to man, I think we’re better.

“They had one kid, who can come out and set the tone for them.”

That kid was Dante Capoccia. And he delivered once again for the Red Sox in the District 62 Tournament of Champions at LeBard Park.

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Capoccia struck out six in 2 1/3 innings of no-hit ball. He also blasted a solo home run and roped a one-run double, lifting the Red Sox past the Braves, 4-1, Tuesday and into to Thursday’s semifinals.

Capoccia was his usual dominant self, except for how he felt in a close game.

“I was a little scared,” the 12-year-old said.

The Red Sox (17-1) played in a nail-bitter for the first time in the tournament. Coach Rob Stillman expected it after routing the Costa Mesa American Little League Angels, 18-2, in a four-inning opener.

“I told you it wasn’t going to be easy,” Stillman said.

It truly wasn’t.

At one point, the Braves (13-9) were in business to get back into the game. Down, 2-0, going into the bottom of the third inning, Capoccia came out firing, mowing down a batter in four pitches.

All fastballs, none of which the Braves kept up with. But soon things were about to slow down. Capoccia entered his final inning.

Capoccia was approaching 41 pitches. It was a number Stillman decided Capoccia wouldn’t reach because if he had, rules prohibited the right-hander from pitching in the next game, the semis, in which the Red Sox will face the winner of today’s game between Ocean View and Robinwood.

The semifinal game is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.

Capoccia forced Stillman’s hand. He issued a walk during a great at-bat by Vince O’Reilly to stay alive. O’Reilly fouled off three fastballs before taking first base on the seventh pitch.

Six pitches later, Capoccia nailed Trenton Gronewold near his left knee. The pitch count was now at 36. No worries. Capoccia needed just three pitches to fan the next batter.

With two outs and two runners on, Stillman looked ahead, saving Capoccia for a possible next round. In came Stillman’s son, Levi Stillman.

Levi, the kid with the hair coming out of the side of his hat, probably wanted to pull on his hair. He walked the first batter he faced, loading the bases.

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