Little League World Series 2013: Recapping California's Recent Dominance in LLWS
California ended up losing to Japan in the final game of the Little League World Series, but for Chula Vista—as well as the state of California as a whole—it was a run for the ages.
Grant Holman's team was crowned the United States champion before succumbing to Japan 6-4 in what wasn't a major shock. Japan was continuing its own run of dominance at the tournament, winning its second title in a row.
Still, the boys from the West region put together a memorable run that will be etched in the minds of fans for quite some time. Here's a look back at the most memorable moments California gave fans as well the state's utter dominance over the tournament as a whole.
Grant Holman Throws a No-Hitter and Hits a Walk-Off Grand Slam
The first game on the path for Holman and California was a matchup with the Great Lakes region. Chad Lorkowski was the big name going into the game because of his 6'2", 200-pound frame, but it was the 6'4" Holman who would make his name known.
California emerged from the game with a 3-0 win thanks to a no-hitter from Holman in seven innings—the first since 1979, as ESPN detailed:
The no-hitter by Grant Holman was 1st extra-inning no-hitter in #LLWS since 1979 (Chinese Tapei vs California)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 16, 2013
Holman became a bit of a star after the game.
It was an epic win, but it was only the beginning for Holman and California.
After silencing Great Lakes, next on deck was the Mid-Atlantic Region. It too would fall victim to Holman, who was backed with even more offensive firepower.
California won 15-3 thanks to a nice offensive effort from the entire team, but it was Holman who ended the game early via the 10-run rule with a walk-off grand slam.
This time, it was Nick Mora who was electric from the mound, retiring six of seven batters in two innings. All things considered, this was arguably California's most dominant performance of the tournament.
Dominance Over New England
In game No. 24 of the tournament, California punched its ticket to the U.S. title game by coming back in the sixth inning from a 3-1 deficit and winning in the top of the ninth inning with a three-run homer from none other than Holman himself.
As SportsCenter pointed out on Twitter, it made for quite the impressive run for Holman at that point:
Grant Holman is a 6-foot-4,13-year-old on Chula Vista, CA. In LLWS, he has a no-hitter, grand slam & 3-run HR. Quite a run, young fella. .— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 22, 2013
But California wasn't done with New England just yet. The two teams met again in the championship after New England earned the rematch.
This time, it was Mora who put the team on his back, hitting a three-run home run and recording every out but one as California won 12-1. Micah Pietila-Wiggs, Giancarlo Cortez, and Michael Gaines all got in on the action as well in what would be the team's most triumphant moment of the tournament.
The Early Signs of Dominance
Holman's team is not the only team from the state to make a great run in the Little League World Series in recent years.
The reign of dominance for the state dates back to 2005, when Rancho Buena Vista qualified and went 4-0 before losing to the Northwest region. The team would go on to win the consolation game 5-4 over the Asia region.
California remained competitive in the tournaments when it qualified, but teams such as Waipio from Hawaii (2008 champion) kept the region a contender when California was absent.
2009 Championship and Beyond
While 2005 was a nice run, it served as a precursor to the absolute dominance the teams would experience in the tournament in 2009 and beyond.
2009 saw Park View represent the West. The team only went 2-1 in pool play but got hot afterward and didn't lose another game en route to the championship. It slipped by Southeast in the quarterfinals 11-10 before cruising by Southwest in the semifinals 12-2. Finally, the team outlasted Asia Pacific 6-3 in the championship game.
Hawaii would represent the West in 2010 before California resurfaced in 2011 after a brief rest. The team from Huntington Beach, California defeated its first two opponents by a combined score of 21-0 before losing 1-0 in its third game.
California would not be denied again.
Ocean View won the U.S. final 11-2 before overcoming Japan in the final to bring the championship back to California for the second time in three years.
Petaluma National represented California last year, but living up to the hype of the two teams before it was too much. The team lost twice before working its way through the losers bracket and ultimately winning the consolation game over Latin America 12-4.
Japan gets a lot of credit for being the most dominant country in the tournament in recent history, and rightfully so. But California is not far behind, as the state has proved with its recent impressive run.
Expect nothing less from the state in the coming years.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling
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