By Hank Cavagnaro
The Poway National All-Stars defeated Encinitas 8-4 on Thursday in the District 31 Little League Majors Tournament, keeping their tournament run going.
Poway next plays Solana Beach on Saturday in Del Mar.
Meanwhile, Carmel Mountain Ranch, which had been undefeated, lost to Encinitas National, 19-3, on Thursday afternoon. The loss drops CMR into the consolation bracket. If Poway National wins on Saturday, CMR and Poway National will square off on Monday.
The Poway team pulled ahead in the fourth inning and kept the lead thanks to key defensive stops throughout the game and great efforts by all three pitchers. The team managed five hits, a walk, and four stolen bases in the fourth inning with the exclamation point being Noah Araujo stealing home on a passed ball.
The bats started off slow for Poway National but started connecting in the fourth and continued the rest of the game, scoring seven of their eight runs in the last three innings.
“We were more concentrated on actually putting the ball in play instead of our long balls,” said coach Kelly Jones after the victory. “We were looking to bunt the ball around and put runners on base. Our bats will always be there, they just might not be the home run bats we are looking for.”
The team certainly did that by landing a pair of solid bunts and grabbing six stolen bases in the game. But their defensive effort is what won the game Thursday.
In the first inning Connor Oca made a dazzling play, and Brady Ware robbed Encinitas’ Ethan Paulson of a homer by reaching over the fence.
“We work on robbing home runs in practice,” Jones said.
PNLL will face Solana Beach at 11 a.m. Saturday July 6 at Sage Canyon Elementary, 5252 Harvest Run Drive, hoping to keep the tournament run alive. They will need several more wins to reach the title game.