Nichols’ pitching leads DP past Goleta Valley South for District 63 title

Matt Nichols had his curve ball working, and the Dos Pueblos Little League 12-Under All-Stars rode his clutch, compete-game performance and beat Goleta Valley South 3-1 Wednesday for the District 63 Tournament championship at Girsh Park.

Nichols struck out six, didn’t allow a walk and gave up one run and five hits.

“You got to give credit to Matt Nichols,” Goleta Valley South manager Dan Feldhaus said. “He was throwing his curve ball for strikes and we were having trouble hitting his curve ball. We’re a very good fast ball-hitting team, and we were having trouble with his curve ball.”

Dos Pueblos advances to the section tournament in Moorpark on Saturday.

Goleta Valley’s only run off Nichols came on DJ Sharpe’s solo homer in the second inning. It put runners on in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but Nichols continually came up with the big pitches to thwart the threats.

“It was just an outstanding game he pitched,” Dos Pueblos manager Wes Boyle said of Nichols. “He was on fire today. He had it all working, fast ball and curve ball.”

Boyle said Tuesday’s tough eight-inning loss in the first championship game didn’t dampen his team’s spirit.

“The guys were loose. Nobody expected us to win, so we didn’t have any pressure on us,” he said. “We just came out and did what we needed to do. It was a great win for Dos Pueblos Little League and a great job by these boys. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

Goleta Valley took the early lead on Sharpe’s homer, but Dos Pueblos answered in the bottom of the second on a one-out solo homer to left by Jake Yamasaki off GVS starter Trey Klopstein

Both teams stranded runners in the third inning. Nichols notched a strikeout to end a threat, and Goleta Valley’s infield turned its second double-play of the game to foil a DP scoring chance.

Dos Pueblos took the lead with two outs in the fourth. Wes Boyle started things off by drawing a walk off relief pitcher Kyle Ownsby. Yamasaki followed with a single to right, sending pinch-runner Jordan Barbieri-Low to third base. Matt Shotwell came up and smacked a ball into right-center-field to score Barbieri-Low and Yamasaki for a 3-1 lead. Shotwell went to third on the throw home but was stranded there as Ownsby got the next batter to pop out.

Goleta Valley’s Carson Vom Steeg reached second base on an error and a passed ball in the fifth, but Nichols got Blake Katsev swinging at a curve ball for a third strike to end the inning.

Goleta Valley denied DP from scoring on a wild pitch in the bottom of fifth on a nice defensive play by catcher Josh Feldhaus. He quickly retrieved a wild pitch from new pitcher Katsev and tossed the ball back to Katsev, who tagged out a sliding Nichols. He opened the inning with a double.

In the sixth, Nichols retired the side in order on three ground balls, and his Dos Pueblos teammates rushed the mound to celebrate winning the district title.

“Hats off to DP Little League,” Feldhaus said. “They were the better team today and we wish them the best.”