Photo By: Courtesy of Keith Higgins
The Los Altos & Los Altos Hills Little League A’s capped a perfect season by winning the Minors AA Division championship Thursday at Purissima Park. Front row, from left Johnny Colet, Sameer Singh, Corey Wang, Cameron Wang, Andy Higgins, Cole Cox, Lance Kluge, Matt Poppitz, Nasir Naqvi, Rohan Agarwal and Matthew Kumpf. Back Coaches An-Ti Wang, Tom Poppitz, Keith Higgins (head coach) and Jeff Cox. Not pictured Player Cedric Chan.
These A’s truly were amazing.
The Athletics of Los Altos & Los Altos Hills Little League completed a perfect season Thursday with a one-run win over the Cubs in the finals of the Minors AA Division tournament.
“Our kids had a season I think many will remember for the rest of their lives,” head coach Keith Higgins said. “We worked very hard, we had a lot of fun, we got a lot better and we had a very successful and rewarding season.”
The A’s finished 23-0, which may make them the first Minors AA squad (ages 8-10) in league history to go undefeated.
“We don’t know for sure – they don’t track every season – but to the best of one of the commissioner’s recall, it’s never happened before,” said Tom Poppitz, A’s assistant coach. “But the 23-0 can’t be disputed – that’s locked in.”
The last five wins came in the 10-team league tournament at Purissima Park in Los Altos Hills. The A’s routed the Red Sox 18-3 in their May 30 opener, edged the Giants 8-6 two days later and crushed the Cardinals 13-2 June 7 to reach the championship round.
Facing a team that was also 3-0 in the double-elimination tourney, the A’s needed to beat the Cubs twice to claim the crown. The A’s clipped the Cubs 16-14 June 8 and eked out a 7-6 win Thursday.
“The Cubs are a very good team and very well coached,” Higgins said, “and we had to play our absolute best in the final game.”
The A’s jumped to an early lead in the title-clinching contest. They scored three runs – all during a two-out rally – in the first inning and two in the second. After three innings of what Higgins described as “stingy defense,” the A’s allowed two runs in the fourth that made it a 5-2 game.
But the defense flourished in the fifth, as A’s shortstop Andy Higgins made “two heroic outs,” Poppitz said, to keep the Cubs from getting closer.
The A’s added two runs in the bottom of the fifth frame for a 7-2 advantage.
But that almost wasn’t enough. The Cubs refused to surrender, scoring four times in the sixth. They had two men on base – with the tying run on third – when the final out of the game was made.
“For anyone who watched, it was one of the most exciting, well-played AA games this year,” said coach Higgins, who attributed the quick contest (approximately 65 minutes) to “the great defenses of both teams.”
While proud of the perfect season, coaches Higgins and Poppitz were just as pleased with the manner in which their A’s went about it.
“It was a thrill to watch our boys develop so much as skillful players, as selfless dedicated teammates and as individuals that won gracefully,” said Poppitz, who worked alongside assistant coaches An-Ti Wang and Jeff Cox. “I couldn’t possibly be more proud of them.”
Added Higgins, “Our kids showed great sportsmanship during the season and battled hard in several games down the stretch that were very close.”
Team members included Rohan Agarwal, Cedric Chan, Johnny Colet, Cole Cox, Andy Higgins, Lance Kluge, Matthew Kumpf, Nasir Naqvi, Matt Poppitz, Sameer Singh, Cameron Wang and Corey Wang.