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Chula Vista, Calif., Seeks City’s Second Little League Baseball® World Series Crown Since 2009
By George Thompson
In 2009, a Park View Little League from Chula Vista, Calif., won the West Regionals and advanced all the way to the Little League Baseball® World Series championship game, eventually winning it all against Asia-Pacific champions Kuei-Shan Little League, 6-3.
This year, another team from Chula Vista, Eastlake Little League, made it to the World Series, and if their first two games are any indication, they are certainly a team to be reckoned with.
In their 2013 World Series opener on Friday, Aug. 16, Eastlake Little League defeated Great Lakes champion, Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Little League from Michigan, 3-0, fueled by an outstanding performance by their ace pitcher, Grant Holman. They haven’t lost a game since.
Holman recorded a no-hitter while pitching seven innings of shutout ball. By the end of the game, he had struck out twelve Michigan batters. It was the second time in Little League history that a player pitched an extra-inning no-hitter, and the first time in the pitch-count era.
“He was dealing,” manager Rick Tibbett said. After California had taken a 3-0 lead in the top of the seventh, all they needed was three more outs to put the game away and advance in the winners’ bracket. However, Holman’s pitch count was dangerously close to the 85-pitch limit, which meant he would have to be pulled from the mound soon. But the pitch count would work out perfectly to allow Holman to emerge out of the dugout and finished the game with a no-hitter.
In the postgame press conference, manager Tibbett said Holman was going to come out in the seventh inning. “We were okay,” he said. “We had pitchers ready to come in.” In the end, Holman was still eligible and pitching too well to not send him out.
While it was certainly nice to pitch a no-hitter, Holman said it was important that they won the game, both behind his arm and the great defense being played behind him. “It feels good, knowing you have a really good defense behind you,” he said.
Despite the situation, the California defense would remain undeterred by the prospect of fielding for a pitcher who was in the midst of pitching a no-hitter.
“We weren’t nervous,” Giancarlo Cortez said. He said as long as they played good defense, they didn’t have to worry about ruining Holman’s no-hitter.
Patrick Archer echoed Cortez’s comments, saying that even though you may look around at the thousands of people watching the game, you just have to make sure to zone it out.
Manager Tibbett was certain to acknowledge that Chula Vista great pitching doesn’t stop with Holman but continues down the rotation. He said his two, three, four, and five pitchers can all come in and do a great job. They have been crucial to the success of the team during the 2013 World Series.
If California hopes to win the championship game, they certainly need all of the qualities they displayed in their opening game and throughout the series, especially against fundamentally sound Japan Last year, the team from Japan won it all, posting a 14-2 win in the championship game.
However, if any fan doubted West’s ability to play ball with the top teams here in South Williamsport, Pa. this year, West squashed those doubts when they dominated the Mid-Atlantic champions from Newark, Del., in a second-round matchup in the winners’ bracket. And have cruised to big wins throughout the tournament.
Who knows, with more impressive performances like this, their second Little League World Series championship since 2009 could be on their way.