Laguna Beach’s District 55 all-star tournament came to an end last Friday, July 6, with a hard fought 15–14 loss to Laguna Niguel.
Laguna Beach started the tournament on June 30 losing to Laguna Niguel 10–0, then went on to beat Lake Forest/Saddleback 10–0 and Rancho Niguel 10–1.
In Friday’s rematch, Laguna Niguel took the early lead with a grand slam off of Laguna Beach pitcher Blake Burzell. Burzell was unable to stop the bleeding and was replaced by reliever Jack Loechner in the top of the second as Niguel took an 8–0 lead.
But Laguna Beach came clawing their way back in the second, led by a John Langton grand slam and a solo shot by Burzell. Niguel answered in the third, extending their lead to 12–6. Beach responded with another six runs, tying the score going into the fourth.
Then in the fourth, Laguna Beach took the lead by adding two runs.
In the fifth, both teams retired the side in one, two, three fashion giving Laguna Beach the advantage going into the final inning.
However, Laguna Niguel methodically recaptured the lead in the sixth, capped by a controversial home plate decision wherein Laguna Beach catcher John Langton applied an early tag but lost control of the ball, giving Niguel the go-ahead run.
Laguna Beach was unable to match it and the game was over.
“I’ve been coaching Little League for a long time and that was one of the best games I have been involved with,” said Laguna Beach manager Eric Wills. “The boys never quit. They stayed positive, even when we were down 8 – 0. This is a great bunch of players – I couldn’t be more proud of their effort and resolve.”