Riding the lightning left arm of A.J. Woodall and the booming bat of Nick Peifer who crashed two more thunderous home runs, La Verne posted an impressive 10-1 victory over Upland National at Del Norte Park in West Covina on Tuesday night. With the win, La Verne claimed the Section III championship and now moves on to the Division tournament, which runs from July 23-28 at Cortez Park, the home park of West Covina American.
“A.J.’s performance was incredible,” La Verne Manager Bob Spencer said moments after unfurling the new sectional flag that will fly proudly back at Pelota Park. “He had that one rough inning, but other than that he was dead on. Nick Johnson came in and mopped up, and did a great job.”
While Woodall was limiting Upland to a pair of hits and one run until handing over the ball to Johnson in the bottom of the sixth with one out (A.J. had topped the 85-pitch game limit), La Verne went to work with the bats, early and often.
In the bottom of the first, La Verne sent a dozen batters to the dish. The big blows in the inning came courtesy of a two-run homer by Anthony Cascarano, a two-run single by Jake San Miguel and a three-run homer by Johnson. The early outburst, which included seven base hits, put La Verne up 7-0 after one inning of play.
La Verne’s final three runs came on Peifer’s two-run blast in the third and solo smash in the fifth. For the game, La Verne collected a dozen hits. Peifer and Nathan Schneider each had three hits. Meanwhile, Neeyamyah Nunez, who adds more pop to La Verne’s vaunted line-up and is healthy once again, also singled for the victors.
Midway through the post-season, La Verne’s execution in every facet of the game — pitching, hitting, running, defense and gamesmanship – has been practically flawless. And some suspect Spencer hasn’t even shown his full hand yet.
“Pitching, as I said before, is going to be the key to this tournament,” Spencer insisted. “We haven’t had to go deep in our pitching, and we do have more in the bullpen. I said, I believe these boys have a lot more to give. They’re still learning.
Undoubtedly, other cities around the Southland are also learning (and scouting) that La Verne has tremendous talent and is a legitimate contender to win the upcoming Divisional Series. The divisional championship series comprises 10 teams, with five teams competing in each sub division. La Verne plays in the North sub-dvision. The winner of the North sub-division will play the winner of the South-sub division. The winner of that championship series advances to the Western Regional playoffs. No team from La Verne has advanced to the Western Regional playoffs (Aug. 4-13), which is a heartbeat away from the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., played for the first time in 1947. Carl Stotz, a Williamsport resident founded Little League in 1939.
La Verne’s Road to Williamsport is more than just a dream; it’s unfolding game by game right before our eyes.
For more post-game coverage, click on the Reel People video.