Encinitas Little Leaguers advance to semifinals of West Regional
ENCINITAS (CNS) – The Encinitas Little League all-star team has an off-day Tuesday in the West Regional tournament in San Bernardino, after assuring itself of a berth in the semifinals with two victories Monday.
Encinitas concluded play Monday with a 9-7 victory over the all-star team from the Pacifica American Little League as Nikola Ortega hit a grand slam during a five-run first inning to build a sufficient cushion to withstand a comeback attempt.
Encinitas began play Monday by defeating the all-star team from the Dixie Little League of St. George, Utah, 15-2, scoring 11 runs in the sixth and final inning.
Encinitas was forced to play twice Monday when a thunderstorm forced postponement of its Sunday game against Pacifica, the Northern California champion.
Encinitas (2-1) is scheduled to conclude pool play Wednesday with an 8:30 a.m. game against the all-star team from the Mountain Ridge Little League of Las Vegas (2-0). A victory will assure Encinitas of a second-place finish in pool play and a game against the third-place finisher in Friday’s semifinals.
Wednesday’s game will be shown on the ESPN3 broadband network.
Pacifica, which batted as the home team, cut Encinitas’ lead to 5-4 with two runs in both the first and second innings.
Encinitas scored twice in its half of the third, as Ethan Workinger’s ground out drove in Spencer Jones, who had reached on an error, and Luke Berardi doubled in Austin Machado, who was hit by a pitch.
Pacifica (1-2) again pulled within a run with two runs in its half of the third.
Encinitas combined Jones’ single, Machado’s double and an error by Elijah Ricks, the Pacifica third baseman, for two runs in the fifth.
Pacifica scored once in the bottom of the sixth and had the potential tying run at first, but Jones struck out the final two batters to end the game for the save.
Ryan Martinez was credited with the victory, allowing three runs (two earned) and three hits in 1 1/3 innings in relief of starter Peter Gagne. Jones struck out eight in 3 2/3 innings of two-hit relief, allowing an unearned run.
In Encinitas’ first game Monday, Workinger led off a three-run second inning with the first of his two home runs. Ryan Martinez, the No. 8 hitter in Encinitas’ lineup, singled in two runs later in the inning.
Machado’s fifth-inning double drove in Jones.
Dixie, the Utah state champion, opened the scoring in the bottom of the first as Colt Keith led off with a double, moved to third on a ground out and scored on Maklain Briggs’ single.
Dixie (0-2) scored its other run in the fifth as Jarron Polu led off with a single, advanced to second on a ground out and scored on two wild pitches by Shane Telfer.
Encinitas combined Jones’ three-run homer, Workinger’s second solo home run, with five singles, three walks, a hit batter, two Dixie errors, two passed balls and two wild pitches for its 11 runs in the sixth inning.
Telfer scattered nine hits over 5 1/3 innings and struck out six for the victory. Izuru Sakata struck out the final two batters.