Orange Little League loses to Petaluma


SAN BERNARDINO -- Much like an incessant sibling rivalry between brothers vying for the attention and affection of both parents, the Western Regional's annual Northern California/Southern California Little League showdown always turns out to be one of the most spirited and competitive games of the tournament.

On Monday evening, Orange and Petaluma National Little League of Northern California added another chapter to the rivalry.

Three crucial errors by Orange in the bottom of the sixth helped Petaluma National turn a one-run deficit into a 3-2 victory at Al Houghton Stadium as the Northern California representative remained undefeated through three games of pool play.

The loss dropped Orange to 1-2.

Starting pitcher Chris Huerta allowed one run and two hits in four-plus innings of work and AJ Esperanza went 2 for 2 with a walk and a run to lead the visitors.

With Brandon Ducheny on the mound in his second inning of relief, a groundball through the legs of the Orange first baseman put the tying run on second base; a passed ball advanced it to third.

After a strikeout put two away, a grounder hit to Huerta's left at third base was overthrown to first, allowing the tying run to score and the winning run to advance to second.

Tied at two-all, the ensuing batter drilled a groundball off the glove of the first baseman and as the ball trickled into right field the winning run scored.

Orange grabbed the lead in the top of the first on Huerta's one-out single through the first and second base hole.

The visitors doubled their lead on Josh Aviles' run-scoring fielder's choice.

In the bottom half of the inning, a leadoff home run by Northern California's Porter Slate cut the deficit in half.

Pitching with a one-run lead, Huerta twirled his way out of trouble in the third and fourth innings, stranding three runners with a pair of strikeouts to end each threat.

Orange continues pool play on Wednesday evening against Nevada at 8 p.m.

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