Ocean View Little League one win away from World Series

Duarte's crushing grand slam in opening inning propels local All-Star team to 5-2 victory

team to play Sunday for Western Regional championship

August 13, 2010|By Mike Sciacca,
(Scott Smeltzer…)

SAN BERNARDINO — One swing set the tone for Friday's Little League Baseball Western Regional semifinal game between Ocean View and Napa National.

And it was a big one.

But just barely.

Armando Duarte provided the first-inning fireworks at Al Houghton Stadium in San Bernardino, a grand slam that sparked Ocean View to a 5-2 victory. The win sends Ocean View into the regional championship game at 5 p.m. Sunday against the winner of today's late-night second semifinal game between Waipio (Hawaii) and North Scottsdale (Arizona).

The winner of Sunday's game advances to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.

Sunday's regional final will be televised by ESPN2.

"The kids did a great job today," Ocean View Manager Tod Minato said.

Ocean View had the first crack on offense and five batters into the game, Duarte hit his grand slam to give the Southern California regional champions a quick 4-0 lead. Duarte's shot to right field just did clear the fence - and clung just inside the foul pole by about five feet.


Five feet, or five inches: it only mattered to Minato that it was in fair play.

"Armando's grand slam in the first inning gave us the ability to play relaxed," Minato said. "That was huge. I thought he was a little too much on his front foot, but Armando has a lot of power and he hit it well."

Duarte said he never looked at the ball when it left his bat. His only concern, he said, was getting down the base path.

"I just put my head down and started running," he said. "When I saw that it went over the fence, it was unbelievable. That was the first grand slam in my life."

Duarte's slam allowed Ocean View to force Napa National to play catch-up and atoned for a 5-4 loss the locals suffered at the hands of the Northern California champs Tuesday.

That loss prevented Ocean View from going 4-0 in pool play in the six-team regional. Instead, Ocean View, Napa National and Waipio all finished pool play at 3-1. Waipio earned the No. 1 seed in the semifinal round and Ocean View got the No. 3 seed.

Ocean View beat Waipio, 2-1, Saturday, but didn't play North Scottsdale in pool play.

"We had a lot of motivation," Minato said of Tuesday's loss to Napa. "We felt we gave that game away a little bit. We wanted to show that we were better than that."

Ocean View was much better than that.

Asked what the difference was between Tuesdays' loss and Friday's win, Minato said, "Steven [Gingery] pitched."

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