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NHBA Bronco stars cruise into final

Lineup adjustment doesn't slow Newport Harbor squad, which spreads 23 hits throughout order.

June 29, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

LOS ALAMITOS — With their usual leadoff man a little under the weather on Saturday, the Newport Harbor Baseball Assn. Bronco U12 All-Stars had to tinker with their lineup in the semifinals of the Southern California West Central District Tournament at St. Hedwig School.

But even when down a man, the NHBA brain trust fills out its lineup card with the same luxury of choices that Jay Leno has in his garage. In both cases, there is an abundance of high-performance options sure to keep things humming.

So when Newport Harbor Manager Sam Olmstead shifted Caleb Ricketts from the No. 5 hole to the leadoff spot, it was no surprise the catcher responded by going four for four with four runs and four runs batted in to help pace a 25-1 shellacking of St. Hedwig.

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Saturday's triumph, just like Friday's, was shortened to 4 1/2 innings by the 10-run mercy rule. It is the 17th time in 19 wins this season that Newport Harbor (19-3) has invoked the mercy rule.

Newport Harbor advances to Sunday's title game against Cypress at 2:45 p.m.

Just as Ricketts showed his versatility, the NHBA lineup features about seven players who would likely find a home in the middle of most opponents' batting order. Instead, they align to form one of the most imposing offenses in their age group.

Newport Harbor has outscored its first two tournament foes, 44-1. In one of their three tournament titles earlier, also at St. Hedwig, the local 12-year-olds produced a 54-1 run surplus in five games.

The winners had home runs from John Olmstead and Shawn Nielsen to up their jackpot of jacks to 50 in 22 games of all-star play. In addition, they amassed 23 hits, including at least one from 10 of the 11 who played. Nine NHBA players had at least one RBI, 10 players scored at least once and all 11 reached base safely at least once.

The onslaught began early as 19 of the first 22 Newport Harbor players to visit the batter's box, reached base safely.

St. Hedwig helped with four first-inning errors (five total), but Newport Harbor batted around in the first, second and fourth innings, in which it scored eight, nine and six runs, respectively. Newport Harbor stranded eight runners, including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth.

St. Hedwig, which scored its run in the first, benefited from two inning-ending double plays to evade further carnage. Five St. Hedwig pitchers combined to produce five walks and three hit batters.

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