Orcutt’s 14-year-old Babe Ruth team is moving on to the Central California Tournament.
The team booked its ticket to Hanford with an 8-3 victory over Lompoc Tuesday afternoon in the District 6 championship game at Orcutt’s Morrison Field.
“The boys played a really great game. The hitters did a good job of getting on base and advancing the runners and getting them home,” said Orcutt manager James Steels, who played for San Diego, Texas, San Francisco and Montreal during his Major League Baseball career. “Isaiah Navarro pitched a really great game then Caleb Dulay came in and closed the door.”
“We had a game plan and stuck with it. Everybody did their job. We just didn’t get the breaks and they did,” said Lompoc manager Pete Martinez. “Our pitcher, Bradley Waite, stuck with it longer than we expected and did a really good job. We had some good quality at-bats, grinding up their pitch count. This is a good group of guys. They’re real ballers.”
Orcutt started fast, then held off a mid-game challenge to win its second straight title.
The heart of the team, eight of its 12 players, was on the Orcutt 13-year-old team that won the District 6 title last year.
Lompoc had an opportunity to score in the top of the first inning but Orcutt’s Navarro worked himself out of an early jam.
With one out, Joe Ahedo doubled off the left field wall but he couldn’t advance on Leo Martinez’s infield single.
Both runners did move up a base on Sean Moua’s sacrifice fly but Navarro struck out the next batter to get out of the inning.
Orcutt started fast, scoring four times in the bottom of the first inning.
Dulay led off with a double to deep center field.
When the throw back was off line, Dulay kept on running until he raced across home plate.
“I was just trying to get on base, get a hit to lead off the game,” said Dulay. “I thought it was just going to be a double but coach told me to go to third and then to keep going home. That got the whole team in gear. We were just trying to get a run for our pitcher early on.”
Singles by Ryan Delgado and Quigley Espinola, followed by Navarro getting hit by a pitch, loaded the bases.
“It hit me on the left arm. It stung a little bit, but I’m good,” said Navarro.
Lompoc third baseman Moua saved a run when Connor Adams hit a hard grounder to third. Moua threw home to nail Delgado.
But the bases were still loaded.
Lompoc starting pitcher Waite hit Dillon Badnell, which forced home Orcutt’s second run.
Nate Cantor then knocked home two more runs on an infield error for a 4-0 Orcutt lead.
“Getting those four runs early really takes the pressure off,” said Navarro. “I was throwing my fastball most of the time because my curve was only so-so. But the guys played some really good defense and that kept us in the game.”
In the top of the fourth, Lompoc cut into the lead.
Moua led off with a walk and went to second on Derek Argel’s long single to left center.
After a double steal moved them to second and third, both came home on an error on a ball hit by Grant Terrones.
But Navarro got an infield popup and a strikeout to end the threat.
In the bottom of the fourth, Orcutt padded its lead.
Dulay and Jake Steels got things going with back-to-back singles.
Delgado got aboard on an error with Dulay scoring on the play.
Espinola then drove in both Steels and Delgado with a double to the left center field wall.
With one out and Delgado on third, Adams flew out to right field. Delgado tagged up and headed home but a great throw from right fielder Trey Robinson arrived at home plate before Delgado, who then ran back to third and got caught in a rundown where he was tagged out to end the threat.
Orcutt was now up 7-2.
They made it 8-2 in the sixth after Steels singled to center and Delgado doubled him home with a shot to the base of the left field wall.
Lompoc had one final chance and did its best to rally off Dulay, who came on in relief of Navarro in the fifth inning.
With two outs, Tyler Rounds was hit by a pitch then went to second on a passed ball.
He scored on Stephen Espinoza's single, cutting the lead to 8-3.
Espinola tried to steal second but was cut down on a perfect throw from Orcutt catcher Badnell to shortstop Steels to end the game.
“That was a great play to end the game,” said James Steels. “And we didn’t have any errors today. It was a fun tournament. The kids knew they had a target on their backs after winning the 13-year-old tournament last year.”
To reach the title game, Orcutt defeated Lompoc in its tournament opener, then knocked off Santa Maria to reach the finals.
After losing in the opener to Orcutt, Lompoc defeated Santa Maria to knock them out of the tournament and set up a re-match with Orcutt for the championship.
Lompoc had to win twice Tuesday win the title in the double-elimination tournament.
Orcutt now advances to the Central California Tournament at Hanford’s John F. Kennedy Junior High. That tournament begins Friday, July 7.
The Central California Tournament was originally scheduled for Arroyo Grande but there were not enough fields available so Babe Ruth moved it over to Hanford.
Babe Ruth 13s
Santa Maria 23, Orcutt 4
Santa Maria defeated Orcutt in the Babe Ruth 13-year-old tournament at Lompoc’s George Meyer Field.
Santa Maria scored six times in the first and never looked back in an elimination game that went the full seven innings.
Luis Guerrero pitched the first four innings for Santa Maria with Julian Sepulveda coming on in relief for the final three.
Santa Maria will now face Lompoc Wednesday for the 13-year-old title.
Lompoc is undefeated so far so Santa Maria will have to win twice to win the championship.