The only team to put a ding in the record of Ding King all season was Genesis Capital Leasing.
So when Ding King captured the Newport Beach Little League AAA Division American League crown and Genesis won the National League, there could have been a sense of revenge. The teams would meet again with the title on the line.
There was more respect then revenge in the air. Players and coaches from both teams consider themselves friends.
On Saturday afternoon at Bonita Canyon Sports Park, they put together one heck of a championship game. In the end, Calder Overfelt had the last say for Ding King.
Overfelt's one-out double to deep center in the bottom of the sixth scored Trey Daichendt, lifting Ding King to a 6-5 walk-off victory.
It's the second straight year that Ding King's Overfelt, Van Sidebotham, Cole Junge, Sonny Ott and Manager Eric Sidebotham have won the title. Last year, they were on the AA Division OC Mattress team that won.
When Overfelt came up in the bottom of the sixth on Saturday, he was aggressive, swinging at the first pitch. The ball went over the center fielder's head and one-hopped the wall, and Daichendt — who had reached on an error and moved to second on a wild pitch — easily scored.
"I knew the first pitch was probably going to be a fastball," said Overfelt, who was two for three in the game and made several nice plays at shortstop. "So I swung. I was just saying, 'Get over his head, come on, get over his head!'"
Ding King (18-1) swept through the playoffs and rapped seven hits in the championship game. Speedy Tommy Cianfrani was two for two with a double, while Conrad Meier, Junge and Wyatt Reiden added singles.
Ding King took a 5-3 lead with a four-run fourth inning, helped out by two Genesis errors. But Reiden and Cianfrani each batted in a run in the inning as well.
"Our team was so uplifting," Reiden said. "If someone was sad, Calder or Van or anyone would go up and try to lift them up. I think that's how we won."
Genesis (14-6-2), which lost its first playoff game and had to win five straight games to make the AAA final, did not go away. The designated visiting team scored twice in the top of the sixth, tying the score at 5-5. Noah Zeigon and Chase Habermehl started off the rally as both players were hit by a pitch with one out. Dillon Gomez followed with an RBI single to right, and Ott added an RBI groundout.
Genesis cleanup hitter Quinn Welton had hit a two-run single in the third inning, helping his team take a 3-1 lead.
"They're just a special group of kids," Genesis Manager Todd Habermehl said. "They have more heart than 10,000 people tied together. They just kept battling and had a 'never say die' attitude."
Habermehl pointed to the team's National League title game Thursday, when Genesis rallied with four runs in the bottom of the sixth to stun Newport Hills 76, 10-9. Habermehl said that Zeigon, who was dealing with extreme personal adversity at the time, started the game at pitcher and played well. He led off the rally in the sixth with a single. And Duke Nelsen, in his first year playing baseball, later hit a walk-off, two-run single to win the game.
Genesis leadoff hitter Jack Martin was two for three with a double in Saturday's game, while Zeigon, Ott and Cole Dearmin added hits. Ben Foxcroft, Jack Bolt, Cannon Pohlig and Cooper Schoen also contributed. Bolt pitched into the fifth inning before reaching his 65-pitch limit.
John Tipton, Jake Simkins, Ryan Schulze, Willem Deveirman and Luke Degner also contributed for Ding King.
Tipton, Van Sidebotham and Overfelt combined on the pitching duties Saturday for Ding King, and Eric Sidebotham said pitching was a strength of his squad all year.
"Pitching was amazing, and we were a good hitting team," he said. "We weren't a strikeout team; a lot of bats on the ball. In Little League, it's pretty important to just get a bat on the ball.
"I think the two best teams made it to the [championship game], ultimately. It was a great game."