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Little League: Local teams to clash

Newport Beach National plays against Newport Beach American Tuesday in District 55 All-Stars Majors Tournament.

July 03, 2010|By Steve Virgen, steve.virgen@latimes.com

Later this month, Jeff Gardner and Dave Bock will be managers for the same team that will play in a special tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y.

But next week, the two will be in different dugouts, squaring off against each other. The winner stays alive. The losing team is eliminated in the District 55 All-Stars Majors Tournament.

Many of the players on the teams that play Tuesday will be on the same squad headed to Cooperstown in two weeks.

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But on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Chapparosa Park in Laguna Niguel, it will be Newport Beach American, coached by Bock, vs. Newport Beach National, coached by Gardner, a former Major League Baseball player and minor-league manager.

Because of the natural rivalry of the teams, Gardner knows better than to provide bulletin-board material for the NBLL American players.

"We played them in two practice games and they beat us up both games," he said. "I would definitely favor them. They have a lot more power arms than we do … I feel the other team is better coached."

Bock knows his counterpart all too well and didn't buy Gardner's words.

"Don't play cards with Gardner," Bock said. "They're well-coached. They practice hard. I've coached a number of those kids. We're pretty evenly matched."

Gardner was hoping to avoid a matchup against Newport Beach American this early in the tournament. He had his team playing in the quarterfinals of the winner's bracket Thursday night. But Newport Beach National fell to Laguna Hills, 3-1.

Gardner's team had two runners on base with one out in the sixth inning, but NBLL National ended the game with two strikeouts.

Gaston Bouchereau, Gardner's son, Luke Gardner, and Jack Trush pitched well, helping the team stay in the game.

Tyler Chan scored the National's lone run. Jason Neiger doubled for the National All-Stars.

Gardner said Laguna Hills' pitcher was the best his team had faced all year. He had a complete-game shutout.

Bock's team has found some momentum recently. NBLL American opened the tournament with a 14-0 loss, but bounced back with a 6-0 win over South Irvine Monday and a 12-0 victory against Central Irvine Wednesday in the elimination bracket.

Pitchers Reed Quackenbush, Conner Bock and Robbie Rosoff combined for the shutout Wednesday. Nick Premer, Griffin Vrabeck and Alex Lee each hit a home run.

Vrabeck and Lee both went two for two with a homer and a double each.

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