HUNTINGTON BEACH - (CNS) - The Ocean View Little League All-Stars from Huntington Beach earned a berth in the Little League World Series today with a 2-1 victory over their counterparts from Red Bluff in Northern California in the West Region Tournament championship game in San Bernardino.
Steven Kotkosky greeted reliever Lane Pritchard with a two-run home run in the top of the sixth and final inning to account for all of Ocean View's runs. Nick Pratto tripled to lead off the inning, prompting Red Bluff manager Donnie Button to bring in Pritchard to replace Wesley Clawson, who had allowed three hits in his five innings on the mound.
Pitching in front of a crowd at Al Houghton Stadium announced at 13,870 and an ESPN television audience, Ocean View right-hander Hagen Danner retired the final 18 batters he faced, pitching a three-hitter, striking out 14, including Clawson to end the game, and not walking a batter. Of Danner's 79 pitches, 64 were strikes.
Red Bluff scored an unearned run in the first. Leadoff hitter Austin Youngblood reached first on an error by Ocean View second baseman Justin Cianca, advanced to second on a passed ball by catcher Braydon Salzman, to third on Kolby Button's ground out and scored on Pritchard's single. Nicholas Rodriguez doubled one out later, giving Red Bluff runners on second and third with two outs, but Danner induced Tanner Tweedt to ground out to end the inning. Eric Tanner singled to lead off the bottom of the second, but proved to be the last Red Bluff batter to reach base. Tanner struck out each of the next nine batters. Michael Chapman ended the streak by grounding out to third leading off the fifth. Danner then struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
Ocean View, which lost in the championship game of last year's West Region Tournament, is the seventh Orange County team to play in the Little League World Series and first since the Cypress Federal Little League All-Stars in 1998.
Ocean View is scheduled to begin play in the 65th Little League World Series Friday in South Williamsport, Pa. against the all-stars from the Cumberland American Little League in Cumberland, R.I., the New England Region champion.
Ocean View won three tournaments to qualify for the West Region Tournament, has an 18-1 record and won 12 consecutive games.
The West Region Tournament field consisted of the champions of Southern California, Northern California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah.