If anyone needed more proof that good pitching beats good hitting in the game of baseball, look no further than the 2014 Pacifica American Little League All-Stars. It saw its dream of reaching the Little League World Series fall short in an 11-2 loss to Mountain Ridge, Nevada in the championship game of the West Regional tournament Saturday night.
Pacifica had run roughshod over the competition in qualifying for the West Regional tournament in San Bernardino. Through district, section and division play, Pacifica went 12-0, scoring double figures in runs nine times, including seven straight games — through sectional and divisional play — before arriving in Southern California.
Once there, however, Pacifica’s vaunted bats were held in relative check. In six regional games, Pacifica failed to crack the 10-run barrier. Conversely, it allowed double-digit runs in three games — after allowing 10 runs or more only once in its previous 12 games.
“We’ve seen good pitching the whole time. It seems we’re getting every team’s No. 1. It seems every team has a guy throwing mid-70s. For a Little Leaguer, that’s some great heat,” Pacifica American manager Steve Falk told the Daily Journal’s Terry Bernal, who made the trip to San Bernardino for Pacifica’s semifinal and championship game.
But that should not take away from the fact Pacifica American was one of the most prolific Little League teams to come out of the Peninsula in years. It amassed more than 200 hits through 18 all-star games and four tournaments, which averages out to just over 11 hits per game, while sporting a team batting average of .422. Pacifica scored a total of 179 runs this summer — good for nearly 10 runs per game.
Ultimately, however, it is the team that features strong pitching and an offense that can beat that pitching which will eventually be crowned Little League World Series champs. It may not be Pacifica American, but it proved it was among the best in the world in the summer of 2014.
I accept anyone’s opinion on guns and hunting. Just don’t judge me for being “pro” in each of those cases.
With that said, it’s not only three weeks before the start of the football season, it’s also almost time for the opening of the dove hunting season. Those who have followed this space for years, know I generally take the first two days off of September to be in the field instead of at the field covering a game.
This year, I will be heading northeast instead of my typical southeast trip to Fresno. This year will be spent in the desert between Sun Valley and Sparks, Nevada, at a spot my brother has used since moving to the Silver State about a decade ago.
It’s not so simple, however, to pick up a 12-gauge shotgun and knock down fast, agile birds consistently without any practice. Normally, that’s how it goes for me. I touch my shotgun one weekend a year — and don’t use it again until the next season.
This past weekend, however, I got in some shooting time that will hopefully translate to more birds. I went to the Reno area to pick up my daughter, who was visiting grandma for a couple weeks. Before heading home, however, I hooked up with my brother for a shotgun practice session. Using a hand-held thrower and clay targets, we both took our shots at 10 rounds of clays.
After two rounds, I had hit 13 out of 20 targets, which at 65 percent was one of my better efforts — 7 of 10 in the first round and 6 of 10 the second time around. I felt even better after watching my brother hit 15 out 20, a 75 percent rate.
My pride was put in check, however, after my brother, who is a great shot, took me to school. He hit his first five shots. Then seven. When he got to nine in a row, the pressure really set in. Ten in a row. Eleven. Twelve. … Fifteen in a row.
He got to 16 straight hits before he finally missed. It was quite a show. I know my brother is ready for the opening of dove season. Hopefully I am as well.
And hopefully the birds cooperate by showing up.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: email@example.com or by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117. He can also be followed on Twitter @CheckkThissOutt.