SANTA CRUZ — There wasn’t much left in the Aptos Marlins’ jar of comebacks.
Then again, Miles Houser made sure Aptos’ late-inning heroics weren’t going to happen.
Houser pitched a complete game, scattering six hits as the Santa Cruz American White Sox defeated the Marlins 6-2 to win the District 39 majors Tournament of Champions grand finals.
Houser was roughed up in the first inning for two runs but settled down after that. He finished with eight strikeouts, including two straight to end the game.
On the final strike, he fist-pumped around the mound as his teammates came in to celebrate the championship.
“It was really nerve-wracking, especially the last three outs,” Houser said. “I was shaking to death. Everyone was cheering me on.”
Aptos coach Spencer Hays said he was proud of his team for battling through the tournament and reaching the finals.
“The last two games were pretty exciting,” Hays said. “We battled, and we fought hard.”
The Marlins had dreams of bringing a second straight Tournament of Champions title to their Little League.
It appeared they were going to do it a day earlier. On Tuesday, they rallied for four runs in the bottom of sixth inning — three came on a home run by Matt Whitwam — to tie the game at 6-6.
Santa Cruz’s Javier Felix swung the momentum back to the hosts, as he hit a watch-out-airplanes home run to left field that proved to be the game winner.
Santa Cruz’s 8-6 win on Tuesday forced Wednesday’s winner-take-all showdown.
From the very beginning, it looked like Aptos was going to put a bow on the title. With one out, Josh Barry hit a single, and Forrest Hays hit a double to start a rally. Whitwam then singled home both guys to give Aptos a 2-0 lead.
Brennan King then singled, and Aptos had hopes for a big inning, but Houser settled down, striking out the next two batters to limit the damage to just two runs.
“They got those two runs, and I felt bad, but in the end, I knew we could get out there and win,” Houser said.
For the complete article see the 06-21-2012 issue.
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