COSTA MESA — The Arizona Wildcats, little baseball players ranging from ages 6-8, didn't appear to be nervous during their meaningful game Thursday at TeWinkle Intermediate.
The Wildcats were one of a handful of Costa Mesa National Little League teams playing with a lot on the line at the school.
The Wildcats needed to win in the CMNLL Farm Division double-elimination tournament to force a final. And win they did.
They played one of their better games of the season to upend the USC Trojans, 22-4. The Trojans had beaten the Wildcats in the first round and the Wildcats were forced to go through the second-chance bracket to get to the championship.
The teams will play for the title Saturday morning at 9 back at TeWinkle.
"We wanted it," Wildcats Manager Mark Iveson said of his team. "As a team we played great defense and executed really well. We also did a great job of putting the ball in play."
The Wildcats never appeared to be under pressure with their season on the line. They were calm as they went about their victory.
Riley Witte, Wyatt Fischer and Ryan Iveson made stellar plays for the Wildcats and were three of several players who contributed to the big win.
The young players concentrate on fundamentals in the game that has machine pitches to the batters.
The Trojans did their best to match the Wildcats production, but they could not. They were featured in the Daily Pilot Thursday. Pete Statti, who had been a coach and volunteer who prepared the fields, has been a source of inspiration for the Trojans, as he has been rehabilitating from a serious surfing accident.
Statti attended the game to support his son, Gavin, and the rest of the Trojans.
Trojans Manager Jason De La O is confident his team can play better. He knows they are capable of bouncing back on Saturday.
Jaeden Hose-Shea, Sam Stute, Kaiden Kahkosko and James De La O helped the USC Trojans score their four runs and tried to give the team some momentum.
But Arizona continually made big plays throughout the game.
The Wildcats hope to ride their momentum to the championship.