Colleen Bennett - Sotheby's International Realty

La Verne Streaks to District Championship in a Runaway!

July 2, 2017
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La Verne wins the District, La Verne Wins the District, La Verne wins the District!

 

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GLENDORA, Calif., July 2, 2017 — Behind the accurate, overpowering left arm of Matt Bustos and an unrelenting offensive attack led by Morgan Smith and Nolan Smith, who each homered, the La Verne Little League Major Division All-Stars won the District 20 championship in convincing style, defeating Claremont, 10-0, on Saturday, July 1, at the Ted Haller Youth Baseball Complex in Glendora.

La Verne scored in every frame of the five-inning contest as Bustos twirled a three hitter and racked up 13 strikeouts.

In the top of of the first, Bustos wiggled out of a minor jam, working around an error and a single by Ray Fernandez.

In the bottom of the first, La Verne lead-off hitter Justin Santiago walked on four straight pitches and eventually scored on a wild pitch with two outs to give La Verne an early 1-0 lead.

In the second, Claremont’s Drew Palumbo greeted Bustos with a lead-off single and after a stolen base and a passed ball stood on third base with no outs. Facing what appeared to be a certain scoring situation for Claremont, Bustos suddenly found another gear in his game and coolly struck out the next three batters.

Micah Smith is carried off by his teammates after driving in the winning run.

La Verne rewarded Bustos’ big effort with another run in the bottom half of the inning. Seth Wrightstone banged out a lead-off double and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He didn’t get to occupy the bag for long because he was promptly driven home on a sharp single to left center by Tyler Holley to put La Verne up 2-0.

After Bustos set down Claremont in order in the top of the third, La Verne went to work again, scoring four more runs and effectively putting the game away. After Micah Smith walked and Santiago was plunked by an errant pitch, Morgan Smith caught up with the second high fastball he saw and blasted it out of the ballpark for a three-run homer.

Morgan Smith’s home run brought a pitching change for Claremont, but the strategy proved ineffective as Bustos singled against the new hurler and later scored on a wild pitch to give La Verne a commanding 6-0 lead.

Morgan Smith elevates after hitting a home run.

That lead would balloon to 9-0 in the bottom of the fourth after Nolan Smith hit a lead-off homer and Santiago delivered a two-run double, driving in Tristan Rambaud and Micah Smith who had singled and doubled ahead of him.

In the bottom of the fifth, La Verne would show yet another way to put runs on the board, as Micah Smith would beat out an infield single to drive in the district-deciding run that would crown La Verne champion and trigger an on-field celebration.

“Our kids are a bunch of gamers,” La Verne Manager Mark Smith declared moments after his team scored its 10th and final run.  “They continue to fight until the final out. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”

Bustos, who started the first game of the tournament for La Verne, made sure he was there for the last game as well.

“He’s a seasoned veteran out there,” Smith said.

Indeed, Bustos masterfully worked around potential scoring situations in the first and second innings when Claremont was looking for any crack in La Verne’s armor.

“Really, nothing phases him,” Smith added. “He’s nice and cool and relaxed and he knows what he’s doing.”

Nolan Smith rounds the bases.

The same could be said of the entire team as they displayed remarkable efficiency on offense and defense, pounding out several double-digit victories while surrendering just four runs over the course of the entire tournament.

On Saturday, all the Smiths (Morgan, Nolan and Micah) played major roles in the victory, but perhaps for the entire tournament none was hotter than Morgan, who went 12-for-15 over the duration.

“What a great series he had,” Manager Smith said. “He’s really swinging the bat well.”

Over the series, the hitting contagion spread up and down the lineup.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys in that lineup really contributing,” Smith continued. “I really like what they’re putting together.”

Winning the district championship catapults La Verne into the sectional playoffs, which will begin next Saturday in Ontario.

Despite the commute, Manager Smith appears to be okay with the inconvenience.

“We want to keep this thing going.”

While the coaches were reserved when it came to their predictions, Morgan Smith wasn’t as bashful.

“I think we’re going to go really far.”

Scoreboard and banner say it all!

Micah Smith eyes the pitch.

La Verne fans and parents display their support.

Banner presentations always draw a crowd.

Manager Mark Smith takes one for the team.

La Verne was focused from the first pitch to the last.

On to Ontario!

 

Coverage sponsored by longtime La Verne Realtor Colleen Bennett, Sotheby’s, 909.374.4744. 

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After storming the field, fans and parents know a photo opportunity when they see one.

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