Magical Season for La Verne Ends

July 26, 2011
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La Verne captured two banners in their post season run.

La Verne captured two banners in their post season run.

The expression, “That’s the way the ball bounces” took on a whole new meaning on Monday night as El Segundo batting in the top of the second against La Verne Little League sent 20 batters to the plate, including some players three times. El Segundo’s Colby Estrada enjoyed his batter box appearances the most, belting two grand slams in the frame for eight RBIs. His teammates chipped in another eight runs before the inning mercifully ended on a strike out. Although La Verne scored six runs in the top of the third, the game was well out of hand by then, with El Segundo breezing to a 22-8 victory.

La Verne’s pitching, which had been pinpoint accurate to help it win District and Section tournaments went AWOL, in the sub-divisional playoffs.

In the tournament, opponents challenged La Verne’s power pitchers to throw strikes, and the strategy, coupled with a thread-the-needle type umpiring zone, seemed to work well, if the scores in La Verne’s two losses, 16-9 and 22-8, are any indication.

“We didn’t get our starting pitching deep enough,” Spencer said. “Both days, we didn’t get our starters into the fourth inning, and that’s what you have to do in Little League. We didn’t execute. That’s all you can say.”

On Monday, outside of Neeyamyah Nunez’s grand slam in the bottom of the third, La Verne didn’t have much cause to celebrate, but for the season, which extended deep into summer, there was much to celebrate. After all, after tournament play concludes in Williamsport in late August, only one team won’t be giving a concession speech. La Verne still finished among the top 10 percent of teams in the state.

“It’s been a fun ride,” said Manager Bob Spencer. “You always want to go further. I couldn’t be prouder of them.

“The game was out of control, but they didn’t give up it. They didn’t get angry. They showed a lot of class. They’re growing up to be men.”

To his credit, Spencer didn’t want to address what appeared to be a tight strike zone, at least from the La Verne’s point of view.

“That’s just part of the game,” Spencer said. “You can’t control what happens on the field sometimes. You just have to go with it. And the kids learned that tonight.”

As much as you try to control it, a little round ball sometimes has a mind of its own.

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