The Capitola-Soquel Majors All-Stars team made some history earlier this month following a thrilling win to capture the District 39 championship for the first time in nearly a decade.
Ace pitcher Ryan Huffaker helped add one more chapter in their memorable run after he recorded 13 strikeouts in a 4-2 win against Sunnyvale at Union Little League Field in San Jose on Tuesday to help capture their first Section 5 championship in the Little League’s 53-year history.
“It’s amazing to be the first team ever to do this,” Huffaker said. “It’s huge for our Little League.”
Capitola-Soquel manager Tim Claydon said their goal was just to win the D-39 championship so they could have their names on the banner. Yet, they went beyond expectations after going on this historic run that continues to roll deep into July.
“Winning sectionals was more than we could dream of,” he said.
Their next goal is now the NorCal State Tournament; they became the first D-39 champion to reach the tourney since Aptos did it in 2016.
Huffaker wasn’t sure if they were even going to make it out of the D-39 Majors championship, especially after Aptos was such a powerhouse in last year’s tournament.
Capitola-Soquel (7-1) will now play against McKinleyville—D-26 and Section 2 champions—at Hoover Tyler Little League in Stockton on Saturday, July 22, at 1pm.
“We told the players about the golden summer and this is our golden summer right now,” Claydon said.
Something to keep an eye on is temperatures are expected to surpass 100 degrees, which means hydration will play a huge factor.
In Tuesday’s championship game, Huffaker got off to a shaky start after he was rattled by Sunnyvale in the opening frame for two runs, putting Capitola-Soquel in an early 2-0 hole.
Instead of getting shooken up, Huffaker took a minute to regain his composure and was able to retire the side.
“I just reset and focused in, took a deep breath before every pitch and locked in on my target,” he said.
Huffaker did not give up a single run the rest of the way, using his high fastball and inside fastball to strike out 13 batters in the complete-game win.
Capitola-Soquel responded with one run in the bottom half of the first on an RBI single by Jackson Harn that drove in fellow teammate Canon Claydon, cutting the deficit by half at 2-1.
Huffaker kept the foot on the pedal with a double in the fourth inning, which was then followed by a towering home run from Weston Farren who watched the ball sail over center field for a 3-2 lead.
“It was awesome just seeing that fly over the fence,” Huffaker said. “I knew it was gone off the bat because he crushed that thing.”
It was the second time in these Majors All-Stars playoffs that Farren came through with a clutch hit.
He roped a walk-off home run in a 5-3 victory over Santa Cruz in extra innings on July 8 to help Capitola-Soquel capture its first D-39 Majors Championship since 2014.
Jace Forbes put the cherry on top with a solo shot of his own in the fifth inning, extending the lead to 4-2 en route to Capitola-Soquel’s first-ever Section 5 title.
“This is a really special group, one of the most special I’ve ever coached,” Claydon said. “These guys just never die. They’re such a good team and have good team chemistry. There’s no one that has too big of a head on this team. That’s what makes it really special.”
Other matchups this weekend include a battle between Vacaville American (Section 1) and Madera American (Section 7) at 10am, while Bollinger Canyon (Section 3) of San Ramon takes on Maidu (Section 4) of Roseville at 4pm.
Sunset (Section 6) of Stockton opens against the winner of Vacaville American and Madera American on Sunday, July 23, at 10am.