Shawn Hobson …LADERA RANCH – Two undefeated San Diego County Little League All-Star teams squared off in a Southern California South Sub-Division semifinal game at Ladera Ranch Little League on Monday night.
In the end, District 42 champion Sweetwater Valley Major All Stars prevailed 6-2 to advance to tournament championship game.
Sweetwater Valley slugger Levi Mendez went 3-for-3 with a homer, two doubles and two RBIs against the District 31 champions. Walker Lannon went 2-for-3, reaching once on an error for the team from Bonita.
“That was undoubtedly the worst defensive game we’ve played to date,” Encinitas manager Danny Muckley said. “We just didn’t take care of the ball today. If we take care of our defensive game, the outcome could have been different.”
Encinitas committed two errors, one of the players to reach on an error ended up scoring. The Section 6 champions used four pitchers against the Sweetwater Valley sluggers.
“Our pitchers did a fantastic job,” Muckley said. “The balls got put in play, but we just didn’t get the putouts.”
Sweetwater had eight total hits, three were for extra bases.
“We’re deep through the lineup so we don’t have to bang on all cylinders and still come out on top,” Sweetwater Valley manager Ward Lannom said. “The stats this team is putting up are incredible. They’re doing things I’ve never seen before. We have 44 home runs in nine games.”
The Section 7 champions play again Wednesday against the Encinitas-Oceanview winner at 5 p.m. for the South Sub-Division Tournament championship and an opportunity to advance to the Southern California championship best-of-three series against the North Sub-Division winner.
“Our goal is to get to Western Region ,” Lannom said. “And then move on from there.”
The Southern California best-of-three series begins Saturday in Ontario. The Southern California champions move on to the Western Regional Tournament for an opportunity to compete in the Little League World Series.
Encinitas returns to Ladera Ranch to play Section 10 champion Oceanview in a rematch game today at 6 p.m. The two teams met before and Encinitas prevailed 5-2.
“The boys know what they have to do,” Muckley said. “We’re really deep in pitching right now. If our kids take care of the ball, good things are going to happen.”
If Encinitas should win today (Tuesday), it will have to win both games of a doubleheader against Sweetwater Valley on Wednesday in order to advance.
“They are a good team, and I wish them luck tomorrow,” Lannon said about Encinitas. “Hope to see them again on Wednesday.”
Win or lose, Muckley remains optimistic. “This is an experience all these kids are going to remember forever,” Muckley said. “There are life lessons to learn, win or lose. They will grow from this.”
ELL 002 000 – 2 4 2
SVLL 220 20x – 6 8 0
Dante Schmid, Antonio Andrade (2), Levi Mendez (4) and Walker Lannon, Ari Armas (4). Slater Helbock, Adam Snyder (2), Kadin Muckley (3) and Tanner McConlogue. HR – Mendez (SV). 2B – Mendez (SV) – 2, Jake Howard (ELL). Records: Encinitas 9-1. Sweetwater Valley 9-0.
Contact Shawn Hobson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @HOBMediaWorks.