SURPRISE, Ariz. — The defending champion was too much for the Orcutt 14-year-old All-Stars Friday.
The Oahu-based Hawaii Thunder needed to beat Orcutt twice to repeat as the Babe Ruth 14-year-old All-Stars Pacific Southwest Regional champion, and the Thunder did just that. The Thunder defeated Orcutt 15-2 in the first game and 4-1 in the second.
Orcutt needed one win Saturday to win the championship but couldn't stave off the Thunder, who came out of the elimination bracket to snare the tournament championship and advance to the Babe Ruth World Series that will take place in Glen Allen, Virginia Aug. 10-17.
"They're a very good team," Orcutt manager James Steels said of the Thunder in a phone interview Saturday.
"Our boys played very hard. They gave it all they had. They did a very good job," in the tournament.
Oahu eliminated Orcutt from the regional last year. This year, the Thunder reversed things on Orcutt after Orcutt edged Oahu 2-1 on a Dillan Badenell walk-off sacrifice fly in a winner's bracket game Wednesday.
Oahu got off the field win a win after five innings in the opener Saturday because of the 10-run rule. The second game went the full seven.
After having a rough time in the opener Saturday, Orcutt played a much more competitive second game. "We just couldn't string together enough hits," in that one, said Steels.
Orcutt scored first in the second game. Quigley Espinola hit a lead-off double for the locals in the top of the second inning. Isaiah Navarro bunted him to third base and Connor Adams singled Espinola home.
Oahu tied the game with a run against Caleb Dulay, who pitched a complete game for Orcutt, in the bottom of the fourth.
Dulay ran into some tough luck to start the bottom of the sixth, and Oahu wound up scoring three times then.
"Their lead-off hitter hit a blooper that landed right between the center fielder and the second baseman," said Steels. "If we catch that one, it's probably a different game.
"The next guy bunted, and we made a throwing error. That put runners on second and third, and the next guy hit a two-run single. He went to second on the throw, and the next guy singled him in."
Though Orcutt's run for a regional championship came up a game short, Steels had nothing but praise for his team, a collection of Central Coast players who won in games played in either extreme heat or the early morning to reach the championship round.
"We're very proud of them," said Steels.