The 12-year-old Newport Beach Little League Intermediate All-Stars captured the first Division 55 title in over 20 years for their age group Thursday, defeating Rancho Niguel, 9-4.
Jack Hopkins got the squad off to a great start, allowing just one earned run in 4 2/3 innings and striking out six. The offense was led by John Humphreys, who had a two-run home run and three runs batted in. Doubles by Joseph Wiersma and Luke Joyce, and singles by Cade Overfelt, Ryan Borquez, Justin Browning and Hopkins rounded out the offensive attack.
Clutch defensive plays throughout the game by catcher Troy Smith, a shoestring catch in center by Borquez, plus defense by Browning at third base and Micah Look, helped in securing the championship.
The NBLL All-Stars also started the tournament with a 7-4 win over Rancho Niguel. The club was led by the strong pitching of Hopkins, with Borquez, Humphreys and Overfelt in relief. The offense was sparked by a clutch two-out hit by Ben Cruttenden, which led to a five-run second inning.
In the second game, Newport Beach Little League overwhelmed Northwood, 16-2, including a backbreaking 14-run second inning in which the NBLL team hit through the lineup twice. The offense racked up 10 hits that inning, with two hits each from Joyce, Humphreys and Overfelt, while rocket doubles by Smith, Borquez, Kieran Sidebotham and Hopkins were vital to the offensive attack. The exclamation point was a towering homer by Wiersma.
The team advanced to sectionals on Sunday, where it fell to Ocean View Little League, 11-1, at Heroes Park in Lake Forest. Newport Beach Little League played an elimination game Tuesday night.
— Reader submission