VFW and Crescent Bay Advisors have parlayed their success from Laguna Beach Little League postseason play into hot starts in the 2013 Little League District 55 Tournament of Champions.
Both VFW (Majors) and CBA (AAA, Minor) won their first two games in the week-long, single-elimination tournament, and each will play a division semifinal game on Friday.
Three other Laguna Beach Little League teams, Hobie (Majors), Gapp Construction (AAA, Minor) and Wells Fargo Advisors (Junior), had their respective seasons come to an end in first-round losses Saturday.
Major Tournament of Champions
VFW rolls to consecutive victories
The LBLL Majors division champions collected win No. 2 in the district tournament by taking an 11-4 victory Wednesday from the Laguna Hills Thunder in a second-round game at Chapparosa Park in Laguna Niguel.
The Thunder had defeated VFW in both regular-season meetings between the teams.
VFW used the long ball to put the game out of reach. Grady Morgan hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning to give VFW its first lead. The Thunder intentionally walked Morgan to load the bases in the fifth but Cutter Clawson hit a towering shot to left-center field to clear the bases and give VFW a commanding, seven-run lead.
Strong pitching from Clawson, Charlie Pillsbury, Morgan and Nolan Smith were instrumental in the win. In the third inning, John Phelan made a running catch in left field which sparked the team and changed the momentum.
VFW runs also were scored by Christian Holm, Ashton Embury, Noah Haymond, Jaden Rea, Nate Magers and James Loughlin.
VFW will take on Rancho Niguel in a 6:30 p.m. semifinal game on Friday at Chapparosa Park. The winner advances to the division championship game to be played at 6 p.m. Sunday also at Chapparosa Park.
VFW powered its way to the second round by shutting out Irvine Ranch, 10-0, in its tournament opener Saturday.
VFW's pitching was dominant as Clawson and Morgan struck out 13 of the 15 batters they faced in a game that went into the bottom of the fifth. Loughlin had three hits to lead an offense that scored its 10th run with no outs in the inning to invoke the mercy rule.
Smith and Morgan scored runs in the first inning, while Clawson and Magers added two more runs in the third. VFW broke the game open in the fourth by scoring five runs. Holm, Pillsbury, Rea, Phelan and Embury were credited with those runs.
The game ended in the bottom of the fifth after Smith doubled in Haymond to stretch the lead to 10-0.
— Reader submission
Hobie falls to Aliso Viejo
Hobie, the No. 2 team from LBLL Majors, suffered a 12-1 first-round loss Saturday to the Aliso Viejo Athletics who scored a majority of their runs over the final two innings at Chapparosa Park.