Encinitas Little League loses tournament opener


Pitching wildness and its hitters strikeouts proved to be the downfall for the all-star team from the Encinitas Little League in a 9-2 loss today to its counterparts from the Honolulu Little League in its opening game of the West Regional tournament in San Bernardino.

Four Honolulu batters scored after they walked and a fifth came home after being hit by a pitch. Three Honolulu runs scored on wild pitches.

Encinitas batters struck out 13 times, with reliever Dante Park, the winning pitcher, striking out 10 over the final 4 2/3 innings.

Encinitas had four hits -- three singles and Austin Machado’s two-out double in the third inning. Honolulu had nine off five Encinitas pitchers, eight singles and third-inning double by Richie Vidal that rove in two runs.

Honolulu (2-0) scored the game’s first eight runs -- two in the first, one in the second and five in the third. Encinitas scored both its runs in the fifth.

Honolulu combined a leadoff single by Aaron Tom, a walk to its No. 3 hitter Jordan Botelho and four wild pitches by Encinitas starter Peter Gagne

for its two first-inning runs. Makana Murashige’s sacrifice fly drove in Maxx Muramoto, who led off with a bunt single, for Honolulu’s second-inning run. Each of the first three Honolulu batters in the third walked and the fourth, Noah Nakamura, was hit by a pitch. One out later, Vidal doubled in two runs, increasing Honolulu’s lead to 6-0.

Tom followed with the third of his three singles, driving in Nakamura. Vidal scored on a wild pitch. Machado singled in Luke Berardi, who walked, with Encinitas’ first run.

Spencer Jones, who had singled, scored the second run when Nakamura, the Honolulu left fielder, mishandled Machado’s single for an error. Pinch-runner Shiya Matsushita scored Honolulu’s final run when Botelho reached on a fielder’s choice in the fifth.

The loss was Encinitas’ third in 16 games in four tournaments.

Encinitas will continue pool play Sunday when it faces the all-star team from the Pacifica Little League, the Northern California champion. Pacifica is 1-1, losing to Honolulu, 10-5, Friday, and defeating the all-star team from the Chandler National Little League, the Arizona state champion, 7-3, today.

A watch party will be held at Oggi’s Pizza and Brewing on Encinitas Boulevard for the 7 p.m. game. All pool play games in the tournament played at Al Houghton Stadium will

be televised by the ESPN3 broadband network. Encinitas will play four pool play games in the six-team West Regional.

The top four teams will advance to the semifinals, which will be played Friday.

The semifinal winners will play in the regional final next Saturday.

This is the first time a team from the Encinitas Little League, which was formed in 1957, has advanced to the West Regional, according to league officials.

The tournament winner will advance to the Little League World Series, which is played in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Ten teams from San Diego County have played in the Little League World Series, including the Eastlake Little League all-star team from Chula Vista last year.