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Little League: Earthpack cruises to repeat title

Stuka flirts with no-hitter to help defending champions make NBLL history.

June 08, 2013|By Barry Faulkner
  • Earthpack head coach Jeff Fisher, second from left, celebrates with his players after they beat Dick's Sporting Goods in the Newport Beach Little League majors division championship game at Lincoln Elementary on Saturday.
Earthpack head coach Jeff Fisher, second from left, celebrates… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

CORONA DEL MAR — If all one saw of the Earthpack baseball team was Saturday's Newport Beach Little League majors division championship game, they likely would have concluded that Manager Jeff Fisher's squad was an irresistible force.

But Earthpack's impressively efficient 7-2 victory over Dick's Sporting Goods notwithstanding, the up-down exercises Fisher incorporated into Earthpack's conditioning were a fitting metaphor for a 15-7 campaign that just happened to finish on the best possible note.

"My son, Luke missed half the season with Little League elbow and one of my best hitters, Gabe Sanchez, broke his thumb and never came back, because it didn't heal properly," said Fisher, who also guided last year's majors division champions.

There was very little adversity to be seen for Earthpack in the final, as starting pitcher Luc Stuka had a no-hitter and a 7-0 lead through 4 2/3 innings at Lincoln Elementary.

Kieran Sidebotham's line single to center field broke up the no-no and sparked a two-run rally extended when Drake Mossman reached on a third-strike wild pitch that could have been the third out. After a walk loaded the bases, Colin Miehle fisted an opposite-field single just inside first base that drove in two runs.

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But Stuka, who did not allow a ball hit out of the infield and had faced the minimum until Sidebotham's single, induced a groundout to end the threat. Stuka finished with five strikeouts and three walks.

Ironically, Miehle's two runs batted in were double the total produced by Earthpack hitters, as the winners fortified a rather modest four-hit attack with some baserunning bravado.

With Fisher barking commands from the third-base coaching box, combined with the type of aggressive awareness that comes from a season worth of quality coaching, Earthpack runners put enough pressure on the Dick's Sporting Goods defense to force some leakage.

Dick's committed an error in the first inning that led to one unearned run and a pair of errors helped create three unearned runs in the third.

Earthpack scored three in the first and four in the third, but didn't record an RBI until its final run.

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