Vista wins again, advances to US Championship
It had all the makings of a marquee matchup.
West vs. Southeast. Vista, CA vs. Maitland, FL.
Eighteen-strikeout kid Kalen Pimentel vs. Son of Major
Leaguer Dante Bichette Jr.
Winner advances to the United States Championship.
With more than 15,000 in attendance and many more
watching at home, the game lived up to its billing,
showcasing an early back-and-forth battle, great
defensive plays, a late Vista rally and an emotional
ovation for a star player in Vista’s 6-2 victory over
Maitland at Lamade Stadium.
Bichette kicked off the first inning by setting Vista
down in order on two grounders to third and strike out
of Nathan Lewis.
Pimentel followed by pitching a scoreless inning of his
own, retiring leadoff hitter Max Moroff for his first
out recorded that wasn’t a strikeout before surrendering
a double to Bichette. But Pimentel struck out Skip Kovar
and retired Mike Tomlinson a groundout to end the
In the top of the second, Royce Copeland registered the
first hit off Bichette when he smacked a double down the
third base line. A passed ball by catcher Kyle Hamner
permitted Copeland to go to third with Reed Reznicek at
When Reznicek struck out, the ball tipped off the glove
of Hamner and rolled all the way to the backstop,
allowing Copeland to race home for the game’s first run
and a 1-0 Vista lead.
“I mean, this team is good without being ahead,” said
Maitland skipper Sid Cash. “And we just couldn’t get up
And as they’ve done throughout the Little League
Baseball World Series, Vista continued to punish the
opposing pitcher its second time through the lineup.
groundouts by the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters brought the
top of the Vista order up with two down in the third.
Leadoff hitter Danny Vivier tripled to right and scored
on an RBI single by Lewis, making it 2-0 Vista.
Pimentel followed with a double to left that put runners
on second and third, but Copeland hit a chopper back to
the mound that Bichette snagged and threw to first for
the third out.
Maitland struck back in third, when with one out, Max
Moroff and Bichette hit back-to-back singles to bring up
Kovar launched a Pimetnel offering deep to right
centerfield. Rightfielder Daniel Gibney and
centerfielder Reznicek backpedaled and converged on the
ball, colliding at the wall as Gibney somehow pulled in
the ball for an out.
“I was just focused on the ball,” Gibney said. “I jumped
up and he jumped up and we kind of collided and I just
came down with the ball.”
“I’m ecstatic,” Vista manager Marty Miller said of his
feelings about Gibney’s catch. “He’s made some great
catches, this isn’t the first time. It probably saved us
Moroff tagged up and went to third on the play. With two
down, Tomlinson crushed a double into the left field
corner, plating both Moroff and Bichette and evening the
score at 2-2.
The seesaw battle continued in the fourth, when the
bottom half of Vista’s order got a second look at
Reznicek led things off with a full-count walk. A
sacrifice bunt by Johnny Dee moved Reznicek over to
second before Gibney singled to centerfield.
When a charging Lee Dunham overran the ball, Reznicek,
already taking a wide turn around third, hustled home to
give Vista the lead, 3-2.
In the top of the sixth, Vista came through with three
runs to put the game out of reach.
Copeland doubled to score Pimentel (hit by pitch) and
advanced to third on the throw home.
“I just wanted to hit the ball,” Copeland said of his.
“I was looking for good pitches to hit and I got them
and I drove them.”
With the score now 4-2, Bichette hit his second batter
of the inning, Reznicek to put runners at the corners.
After Reznicek stole second, Bichette uncorked a wild
pitch that let Copeland score and moved Reznicek to
third. Dee followed by knocking in the third run of the
inning with a single that put an end to Bichette’s
Bichette tossed the ball to his reliever, Kovar, as
manager Sid Cash gave him a pat on the back and the
majority of the 15,330 in attendance stood up and
applauded Bichette, recognizing the colossal tournament
had by Maitland’s ace and slugger.
Bichette was 8-for-11 in four games with two homeruns,
two doubles and four RBIs and 1-1 with 15 strikeouts in
“It was a great ride, and he’s what got the whole ride
going,” Cash said of Bichette. “That kid is a champion.
He’s the best player I’ve ever coached, but he’s the
most humble kid and you hate to see a kid like that
“I think we played very well,” Cash added. “That’s a
credit to them. They’ve got a lot of good athletes and
made a lot of great plays. There are no losers in
Williamsport. I’m very proud of the way they’ve battled
© 2005, Little League Baseball
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