Encinitas falls just short of Section 6 title

The Encinitas Little League 11/12 All-star squad averaged 13.5 runs per game in the Section 6 tournament last week, but a pair of losses to San Carlos, including one in the championship round on July 19, ended the local team’s postseason run.

Coming off of a first-place finish in the District 31 tourney, the powerful ELL lineup hit 15 home runs in the four Section 6 games at the Vista National Little League Complex, but finished 2-2 with both defeats coming at the hands of the District 33 champs.

The July 16 tourney opener against San Carlos was a high-scoring affair that saw Encinitas go ahead 10-6 after three innings were in the books. SCLL, however, answered with six runs in the top of the fourth, grabbing a slim lead it would hold through the end of the 17-14 decision.

Teagan Pederson (five runs batted in) and Bryce Gilmore (four knocked in) each homered and went 3-for-5 on the day, while Jack Hostetler also went deep and scored three runs for ELL. Braden Mazone added three hits for the locals and Bodie Horton crossed the plate three times.

After that loss, Encinitas played elimination games the rest of the way, rising to the occasion in convincing victories over District 32 winner Scripps Ranch (15-8) and D70 champ Vista National (17-0).

In defeating Scripps Ranch on July 17, ELL used six hits and a couple of SR errors to score seven runs in the top of the first inning, seemingly taking control of the game for good. The home team battled back, however, and Encinitas cluing to a 10-8 lead after four frames.

Fifth-inning home runs by Pederson and Trevor Sleet helped the locals score three times in the fifth, then Pederson’s hot-hitting continued in the sixth as he teamed with Knorr on back-to-back dingers to put the finishing touches on the victory. Garrett Warner matched Pederson’s 3-for-3 performance, while Jack Davy, Myles Coleman, Joe Breslin, Knorr and Gilmore matched Pederson’s two RBIs.

ELL continued to bring the heat in the next matchup, pounding the tournament hosts on July 18. The locals steadily put up runs to take a comfortable 8-0 advantage through four innings, then exploded for nine in the fifth to put the game totally out of reach at 17-0.

The Encinitas pitching staff didn’t need 16 of those 17 runs, however, as Gilmore, Rylan Wade, Hostetler and Knorr combined on a one-hit shutout with eight strikeouts between them. While that quality quartet quieted the Vista bats, ELL was loud with the lumber, getting three-run homers from Knorr (3-for-4, four RBIs) and Wade (2-for-2, four knocked in). Frankie Muro added a hit and a run batted in, while Carson Quinn crossed the plate once himself.

The rout send ELL to the championship round for a July 19 rematch with San Carlos. Riding high off of the win over Vista, the locals jumped out to a 5-1 lead through two innings. And when SCLL came back to tie the contest at 6-6 in the top of the fifth, Horton answered by smashing a two-run shot over the fence to put his crew back up 8-6.

San Carlos, however, had one last rally in it, plating four runs in the sixth inning to capture the crown.

Despite the loss, Encinitas had one last strong offensive performance as Horton was 3-for-3 with three runs scored, Pederson finished with four RBIs and blasted his fourth HR of the tourney and Knorr also went yard. Warner and Hostetler added two hits apiece.