ENCINITAS — Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines dominance as “commanding, controlling, or prevailing over all others.”
The Encinitas Little League Junior All-Star team fits the definition to a tee.
The collection of 13- and 14-year-old ball players has steamrolled through their competition, clinching the program’s second consecutive Southern California State Championship last week with a 6-0 win over Arcadia American Little League.
The 13-boy team outscored its opponents 126-21 over its monthlong romp through district, section and Southern California state brackets, and won its first Western Region playoff game 10-2 over a team from Utah.
“We’re having a great little run, that’s for sure,” team manager Danny Muckley said.
Whereas last year, the team almost saw its run early in district before going on its magical run, this team hasn’t left much suspense in any of its games. Its closest game was a 7-6 victory over the Coronado LL All Stars to win the Section 6 championship.
“In that game, we were facing a pretty tough opponent, and we had one inning where we were unfortunate to have walked a few batters that resulted in some timely hits,” Muckley said.
Outside of that, the team has been beating other opponents largely by double-digit margins.
Muckley attributed the team’s success to sound fundamental baseball and stellar pitching.
“This year, we just have a team that’s not making any mistakes,” he said. “We have really solid defense and a lot of pitchers who throw strikes consistently. It’s a really talented team that is not giving other teams too many opportunities to take advantage of.”
The Junior division isn’t the age group that most casual fans think of when they think of Little League baseball — that’s the 12-year-old age group, whose winners advance to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for the nationally televised Little League World Series.
But the 13-14-year-old division does have its own world series, held Aug. 13-20 in Taylor, Michigan.
The Encinitas team can advance to the World Series if it wins the Western Region, which is underway in San Jose.
Muckley said that even though the games aren’t televised with the pomp and circumstance of the younger age group, it shouldn’t take away from the impressive run.
“I think anytime any age group of kids can put their best team on the field and compete for district, for section and then for region, that is something special,” Muckley said. “To see a group of 14-year-olds do it before they really start moving into high school baseball and beyond, it’s a different type of special, because they aren’t playing with Little League rules anymore, they are starting to play under the high school, college and major league rules on official sized fields for the first time.
“I know Little League gives most of the press to the 12-year-olds, because that’s the way it has been for a long time, anytime someone is able to do what these boys have done at such a high level, it is really something special for sure,” Muckley said.