Malibu Little League’s Mid-season Report

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Dodgers pitcher Brian Rubenstein

Five weeks of fun and competitive baseball have given way to two weeks of a well-deserved spring break for Malibu Little Leaguers, who reached the midway juncture of their season last week. Here’s a rundown of the 2014 season thus far.

Majors Baseball

Led by Manager Len Simonian, the Phillies are on a quest for a fourth consecutive MLL Majors championship.

Despite a change in lineup every year, the Phillies have racked up a record of 49-9-1 over the last three seasons, including 7-3-1 this year. They started off the season at 0-2-1 but have since won the last seven of eight to regain first place.

Last Saturday, the Phillies defeated the Reds 4-2 behind Trent Simonian, who threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing only one run on three hits and striking out six batters. But the Dodgers remain close behind the Phillies, claiming second place with a 6-3 record. Most of their losses have come at the hands of the division-leading Phillies. The boys in blue have lost two of their three meetings thus far against the Phillies, and the teams meet again April 23.

In an impressive pitching performance last Saturday, the Dodgers’ Brian Rubenstein tossed a one-hitter in 5 2/3 innings in a 2-0 shutout against the Red Sox.

“He pitched like a big leaguer,” Dodgers manager Brandt Andersen said. “To throw a game like that is pretty fantastic. In Little League or any league, that’s an awesome feat.”

Rubenstein, 12, struck out 13 Red Sox batters in a dominating effort to close out the first half of the season.

“I felt really good. My arm was cooperating. I’ve never gotten 13 strikeouts. I never really pitched too often so it’s good to know that I can,” Rubenstein said. “We started off real good but in the last couple of games we weren’t hitting as well. But then we came back today and showed that before we go to spring break we got to leave winning.”

The Dodgers scored in the first inning on a bases-loaded walk that brought home Jared Hughes. The Dodgers struck again in the fifth when Kayne Hunter tripled in Strider Ellis for the game’s final run.

For Anderson and the blue crew, it’s been an enjoyable season.

“These kids are so apt to learn about life, about baseball, about just everything. They suck it in like sponges right now. It’s been a great time and this has been a great group of boys,” said Andersen, whose son, James, earned the save versus the Red Sox on a strikeout with runners on first and second.

AAA Minors Baseball

The Braves have been the dominant team in the AAA division with a host of other squads looking to break through.

In a topsy-turvy game last Saturday morning, the Braves outlasted the Angels, 15-8, in a wild affair.

“There are no easy victories going on right now. I take my hat off to the Angels, who came out ready to play today. We did just a little bit better than them,” Braves coach Mario Miranda said.

Trailing 3-2, the Braves scored four runs in the top of the third inning to go up 6-3. The Angels responded with four runs to take a brief 7-6 lead after three innings.

But in the final three innings, the Braves scored nine runs to come away with the victory.

McLane O’Rourke went 3-for-4 with five runs-batted-in (RBI) while Stevie Prudholme and Elijah Clayton each scored four runs. James Nizam hit his first-ever home run, a two-run shot to the left centerfield gap that resulted in an inside-the-park home run and a loud roar from the crowd.

After the game, Braves outfielder Riley Banvard summed up his team’s performance.

“I thought we played good,” Banvard said. “We got all the grounders. I thought we did a good job of pitching. We work as a team. We hit the ball and we play defense.”

The season resumes April 21 with the playoffs slated to begin May 10.

“We want everyone to come out here and learn the game of baseball,” Miranda said. “The kids are having a great time battling against each other. Everyone is getting better right now.”

Current standings: 

MAJORS BASEBALL

Phillies         7-3-1

Dodgers       6-3

Red Sox       3-6

Reds            2-6-1

AAA MINORS BASEBALL

Braves          9-1

Angels          6-4-1

Dodgers        6-4-2

Orioles          4-4

Giants           3-7-1

Red Sox        2-7