The Santa Monica East Little League All-Star Team has completed a season the youngsters and their coaches and followers will long remember. The team advanced further than any Santa Monica team in its division ever has.
Santa Monica won the District 25 tournament and reached the championship game of the Sectionals – a tournament involving five district winners. However, Santa Monica’s season ended in a 2-0 loss to Torrance at Perry Park in Redondo Beach.
Santa Monica reached the title game after losing its opener to El Segundo, 5-1.
Santa Monica then beat two-time Little League champion Long Beach 5-1 as Kevin Carswell pitched a complete game and Matthew Schultz and Oscar Carrasco delivered the hits that broke a scoreless tie. Then Lorenzo Whiting hit a home run.
Santa Monica then defeated El Segundo, 6-4, largely on the pitching of Whiting, and Torrance, 2-1, largely on the play of Max Robinson, who pitched a complete game and hit a game-winning home run.
But in a rematch for the Section 3 championship, Torrance prevailed on a no-hitter by Kobey Gauna. Carswell pitched well but absorbed his only loss against three wins in the two tournaments.
“In the past a team of Santa Monica nine and 10-year-old girls advanced to the state tournament and so did a team of older boys,’’ said Santa Monica Coach Matt Steinhaus. “But never in the 11-12 boys category, which is considered Little League. After four tournaments the winner goes to the Little League World Series in Williamsport [PA]. We got almost halfway there. We were Sectional runner-ups out of about 60 teams that competed.’’
Steinhaus said he knew the team had potential because of outstanding pitching depth. Even if Santa Monica lost a game it had a quality pitcher ready for the next one.
Robinson hit five home runs and as a pitcher had a 4-0 record with a save. Lucas Giolote hit a game-winning home run to end Culver City’s championship reign in the district event.
But it was far from a one or two-man team.
“The kids didn’t get caught up in individual play,’’ said Steinhaus. “They bought into the collective mentality.’’