District 39 Little League: Watsonville American wins first Majors title since '06

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The Watsonville American Little League All-Stars won the District 39 Majors tournament on Sunday, walloping the Aptos Little League All-Stars, 10-0, in a winner-take-all championship game at Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz.

Watsonville American will represent District 39 in next week’s Section 5 tournament hosted by Quito Little League in Los Gatos. The tournament is set to start on July 13. Watsonville American plays its first game on July 14 at 5:30 p.m. against the winner of District 9 and District 44.

The championship game is scheduled for July 19.

It was Watsonville American’s first District 39 Majors title since 2006 and the champions had to play an extra game to clinch it.

Aptos, which was looking to win the Majors division for the third straight season, beat Watsonville American, 7-1, on Saturday behind starting pitcher Reed Moring’s 13-strikeout outing.

Watsonville American, meanwhile, lost its starting pitcher early in Saturday’s loss. As a precaution, Justin Pero left the game after being hit by a pitch on the left arm during the first inning.

But Pero returned on Sunday and had a huge day. He tossed four shutout innings on the bump and hammered a pair of home runs at the plate.

His two-run homer in the first inning gave Watsonville American the early lead and an eight-run fourth inning shut the door.

Isaak Vargas hit a three-run jack in the fourth to start the onslaught. Richie Ortiz, Pero and Pedro Ibarra Jr. all followed with solo shots. Adrian Martinez scored the game-winning run later in the inning.

Micah Cervantes drove in the inning’s first run with an RBI double.

Many of this year’s Watsonville American Majors All-Stars have played together since they were 8 and have won the District 39 All-Stars tournament at every level leading up to the Majors.

In 2014, Watsonvile American beat Aptos, 12-1, in the 8-9 age group; the following year, Watsonville American battled its way through the loser’s bracket and upset Aptos by winning a pair of games to capture the 9-10 title; and last year it went undefeated en route to the 10-11 championship.

This summer, Watsonville American started pool play with an 11-6 loss to Santa Cruz National but went on to win its next three games to win pool A. It beat Pajaro Valley, 6-2, Aptos, 8-5, and San Lorenzo Valley, 4-0.

Aptos also went 3-1 in pool play but finished runner-up because of its head-to-head loss to Watsonville American.

In final four double-elimination action, Watsonville American’s offense exploded for a 10-2 win over Capitola-Soquel in the first round and a 15-4 victory over Scotts Valley in the second.

Aptos, which lost its opener of final four play to Scotts Valley, won a pair of games in the loser’s bracket to reach Saturday’s championship game.

Moring’s brilliance forced the winner-take-all affair on Sunday but Watsonville American emphatically denied the upset bid.

In Saturday’s game, Moring’s RBI double in the first inning started the scoring and a six-run fourth inning guaranteed there would be a rematch.

Cody Gavasse hit an RBI double and then later came around to score on a wild pitch to make it 3-0. Trent Nosky also scored on a wild pitch before Gabe Gaeckle belted a three-run homer to make it 7-0.

Cervantes’ RBI double in the fifth prevented the shutout.