May 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Huntington Valley tops Irvine Ranch 8-3 to advance

Huntington Valley poses for a team picture after Tuesday’s win.

Huntington Valley Little League made history Tuesday night, defeating Irvine Ranch 8-3 at Woodfield Park in Aliso Viejo to capture the Section 10 title and advance on to the state tournament this weekend.

To see the slide show, please click on the first photo.

Irvine Ranch Little League, which had won the District 55 title, needed to win Tuesday to force another game Wednesday. Huntington Valley, which was undefeated, beat Irvine 2-0 on Sunday.

“This section is one of the two or three toughest sections in the country and it was a battle,” said Huntington Valley Manager Tony Armond. “We knew it was going to be a battle to beat this great team from Irvine Ranch. Tonight, we hit the baseball and it means everything to us,.

“The last two years, we’ve been to the finals of the section and haven’t pushed through. This year, we did. It’s a great achievement and a great testament to the kids: a lot of hard work.”

Tony Martinez belted a 2-run home run in the first inning to set the stage after Noah Stockman was hit by a pitch to help Huntington Valley jump to a 3-0 lead after a half inning. Bradley Morlett came on to pitch in the first inning and was effective,  giving way to reliever Wyatt Thomas in the sixth.

“He got us into the sixth inning which was awesome,” Armond said. “He did a great job. I can’t say enough about the job he did tonight.”

Chase Quezada walked and Garrett Davidson singled in the bottom of the first inning for Irvine Ranch and both came around to score on wild pitches to cut the lead to 3-2. Davidson scored Irvine’s other run off a double steal in the fifth.

“It was a great game, we got beat on one swing (a 3-run double by Thomas in the fourth inning),” said Irvine’s acting manager Mike Amundson. “It’s an amazing team, I’m happy for them and they’re going to do really good. We gave them everything we had. It just wasn’t quite enough.

“I’m proud of my boys. All of them did great. I thought (Brody) Connors pitched well and was able to compete and keep us in the game the whole way. We were one pitch away.

“It was an exciting run and a wonderful team. It’s great to see baseball getting played like this in Southern California again. These kids make me love the game. They truly showed me what it is to play with joy in your heart. It’s a good team.”

Armond, the Huntington Valley manager, told the team’s fans that his squad is one of 10 teams left in Southern California.

The winner of the next tournament moves in Aliso Viejo on to the Western Regional in San Bernardino. The winner of  the regional goes to Williamsport.

The squad plays Sunday, but Armond said first up is a pool party at his house to celebrate.

Armond joked he hadn’t told his wife yet about it.