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Encinitas Little League’s run comes to an end

A group shot of the Encinitas Little League team before leaving for the West Region Tournament.
A group shot of the Encinitas Little League team before leaving for the West Region Tournament.
( / Jared Whitlock)

The Encinitas Little League all-star team was eliminated from the West Regional tournament semifinals in San Bernardino last week with a 5-1 loss to the Mountain Ridge Little League of Las Vegas.

It was the first time the team made it to the tournament — one step from the Little League World Series — in its 60-year-history.

Upon returning to Encinitas, the team was awarded a proclamation from Mayor Kristin Gaspar naming Aug. 10 as Encinitas Little League All Stars Day.

“Whereas, the Encinitas Little League All Stars overcame incredible odds making it into the top four teams in the entire western U.S. and into the top 32 little leagues of 7,000-plus nationwide,” part of the proclamation states.

Reflecting on the season, ELL pitching coach Brian Mazone said last week: “These boys had the entire city cheering for them. It’s a credit to their hard work. What a great year.”

During the Aug. 8 semifinals game, three ELL pitchers limited Mountain Ridge to three hits, but seven walks, seven wild pitches and five errors proved to be the Southern California champions’ undoing.

Mountain Ridge, the Nevada state champion, advanced to Saturday’s West Regional championship game. The team then beat Pacifica American Little League, the Northern California champion.

In doing so, Mountain Ridge qualified for the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa.

In the semifinals against Encinitas, Mountain Ridge scored two runs in the first inning, one in the third and another two in the fourth.

ELL trailed 5-1 in the top of the fourth inning, loading the bases with one out. But Mountain Ridge pitcher Austin Kryszczuk struck out Encinitas’ Finlay Lumsden and John Kraus to end the threat.

Kryszczuk pitched a six-inning complete game, striking out 11 batters while walking one, allowing five hits and an unearned run.

Mountain Ridge scored twice in the first without a hit, as Encinitas starter Nikola Ortega walked two batters, hit a third and threw two wild pitches.

With two outs, Brennan Holligan, who had grounded into a force out, advanced to second on catcher Austin Machado’s passed ball and moved to third on a wild pitch.

With Holligan on third and Bradley Stone, who walked, on second, Ortega threw another wild pitch, allowing Holligan to score. Machado threw wildly in an attempt to throw out Stone coming into third, allowing him to score the second run.

Encinitas scored its sole run in the bottom of the first. Kraus led off with an infield single and advanced to second on an error by Drew LaSpaluto, the Mountain Ridge second baseman. Kraus went to third on Kai Haseyama’s fly out and scored with two outs on an error by Holligan, the Mountain Ridge first baseman.

A Holligan single and two wild pitches gave Mountain Ridge a run in the third.

In the fourth, Dominic Clayton doubled in Justin Hauser, who reached on an error by Ethan Workinger, the ELL first baseman, and scored when Kryszczuk hit into a fielder’s choice.

ELL finished tournament pool play 2-2, earning a spot in the semifinals.

City News Service contributed to this article


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