Mizuno sixth at national tourney

September 04, 2003

The Mizuno Sluggers, a 12-and-under travel baseball team based in

Huntington Beach, competed last week at the National Tournament of

Champions at Cooperstown, N.Y.

The Sluggers earned a sixth-place overall finish out of 65 teams

from throughout the county who competed at the Cooperstown Dreams

Park located a few miles from the Baseball Hall of Fame.

They began the tournament with a pair of 12-0 victories in pool


play. L.J. Little hit the first home run of the tournament for the

Sluggers and in the first game, pitchers Mark Trentacosta and Garrett

Heckel combined to throw a no-hit shutout.

After the first day of the tournament, the Sluggers were ranked

first among the 65 teams.

That ranking didn't last long, however, as they dropped their very

next game but bounced back to embark on a four-game win streak. They

ended pool play with a 6-1 record and earned a No. 5 seed heading

into the playoff round.

During the four-game win streak, Donald Sneed hit a three-run home

run to help get the Sluggers past their Southern California rival,

the Brea Crimson Tide, 14-6.

Trentacosta, Ryan Manzon and Kenny Uyetake also hit home runs

during the streak and Steve Ledesma punched two homers in one game.

In their first playoff game, the Sluggers were down and faced

elimination as they trailed the Titans Baseball Club of Pomona by a

single run.

But Sneed unloaded a home run to left field to tie the game and

send it to extra innings.

The teams battled over the next eight innings, with the pitching

of Little and Trentacosta keeping the Sluggers in the game.

A two-run home run in the top of the 14th had the Sluggers down

again but in the bottom of the 14th, they produced five consecutive

hits to score two runs to pull out a 9-8 victory.

In the Sweet 16 round, the Sluggers went up against the defending

tournament champions, the Beaver Valley Red out of Pennsylvania.

"Those guys were huge," Sluggers infielder and outfielder Kevin

Osaki said.

Beaver Valley jumped out to an early lead and led, 6-2, heading

into the fourth inning.

With one out in the inning, the Sluggers began to rally.

Little hit a solo home run, Heckel followed with a single and

Ledesma followed with his fourth home run of the tournament, which

brought the Sluggers to within 6-5.

Chance Ross and Sneed then provided back-to-back home runs to push

the Sluggers into a 7-6 advantage.

Beaver Falls tied the score at 7-7 but the Sluggers won it in the

sixth inning when Michael Chairez scored on a passed ball for an 8-7


Uyetake pitched strong in relief for the Sluggers.

In the round of eight, the Sluggers fell to the San Diego Stars

Baseball Academy, 12-0.

During the tournament, the Sluggers produced a .345 team batting

average and 13 home runs.

Defensively, they made just six errors in 60 innings of play.

The Mizuno Sluggers 12-and-Under team consists of Chairez, Heckel,

Ledesma, Little, Manzon, Osaki, Ross, Sneed, Trentacosta, Uyetake,

Cole Bonanni and Chris Martinez.

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