NHBA finds a way

Youth Scene

Bronco 11Us, down to final out, rally to win region tournament opener in extra innings.

July 07, 2013|By Matt Szabo

FOUNTAIN VALLEY — The game started about 90 minutes late Saturday afternoon, and the reason why was understandable.

Mission Viejo and Irvine had a 14-inning thriller in the first game of the day at Mile Square Park, which pushed back all the rest of the games at the PONY Southern California Central Bronco 11-and-under Region Tournament. The Newport Harbor Baseball Assn. tournament opener against Placentia "B" didn't start anywhere close to the scheduled 2 p.m. start time.

Newport Harbor also started late, hitting-wise. But all that did was set the scene for a thrilling comeback.

Down to their final out, the Newport Harbor Bronco 11Us rallied for a 6-4, eight-inning victory. They opened the double-elimination tournament with a bang.


Newport Harbor plays Mission Viejo on Sunday at 11:30 a.m., back at Mile Square. The winner of that game advances to the region championship game on Monday at 7:30 p.m., while the loser has an elimination game on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

Two teams from the seven-team region tournament advance to the super regional in Whittier, which starts Thursday. Don't count out Newport Harbor.

"It's a gutsy group," said Newport Harbor Manager Bobby Hatfield, whose team finished second at the district tournament June 23 to qualify for regionals. "The bottom line is that we play hard for seven innings, we pitch the ball really well and we catch the ball in the field really well. If our bats are there, we're tough to beat. Basically, it's a team that understands we're playing a full baseball game, and you saw that today. It's a pretty resilient team, and they're great teammates."

It was definitely a team effort. Placentia starting pitcher Trevor Smith was dealing early, retiring the first eight Newport Harbor batters. Things still looked bleak for the locals in the top of the seventh inning. Newport Harbor was down, 4-3, with nobody on base and two outs. Yet the squad somehow found a way.

Logan Pence ripped a single to right, and Jack Bibb followed with a full-count walk. Clay Liolios then laced a single to center, which landed just in front of the Placentia center fielder and scored Pence.

"It felt pretty good," Liolios said. "I was excited. I think the outfielder would have caught it, but it dropped."

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