Fight the Future

Phillip Brents

Fri May 27, 2016 1:22pm

Grant Holman. Micah-Pietila Wiggs. Nick Mora. Remember them?
They were members of the history-making Eastlake Little League 12U all-star team that won the 2013 Little League World Series United States championship.
It was hard not to forget their exploits on the diamond in front of a worldwide television audience as they made it all the way to the hallowed Little League World Series championship game in recording a runner-up finish to Japan.
But that was three years ago.
Holman, Pietila-Wiggs and Mora have continued their baseball careers and are now members of this year’s Eastlake High School varsity baseball team.
They’ve grown up now, and watch out!
Holman and Mora were the big men on the mound for Eastlake Little League’s 12U all-star team (Holman in the truest sense at six feet, two inches tall), while Pietila-Wiggs was the team’s standout at second base. Pietila-Wiggs earned fame as the top hitter at the tournament.
Fast forward to their sophomore year in high school and they haven’t stopped exceling.
Holman has become a key pitcher for the Titans while Pietila-Wiggs has patrolled left field besides duty in the infield. Mora has seen action as a reserve catcher.
All three contributed to Eastlake’s Metro-Mesa League championship season this spring.
World Series flashback
Holman, who threw a no-hitter in his first game in South Williamsport and won another game with a walk-off grand slam home run, has grown four inches since playing in the Little League World Series. He now stands 6-6.
He made a rather auspicious high school varsity debut when he threw a combined no-hitter with junior teammate Mason Thompson in his first varsity game.
“It’s awesome,” Holman said about now representing his high school. “As long as we can continue to play the game we love and have fun doing it, we should be successful.”
Holman led all pitchers at the 2013 LLWS with 28 strikeouts and appears to have only picked up steam since then.
Holman struck out eight batters in five innings in an April 21 game at league rival Bonita Vista to improve to 6-0.
He entered the final week of regular season play with a 8-0 varsity record, sparkling 1.54 earned-run average, 52 strikeouts in 40 innings. At the plate, he is hitting 0.385 with 10 hits in 26 at-bats, one home run, 11 RBI, a 0.467 on-base percentage and 0.615 slugging percentage.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to him because he’s a sophomore,” Titan head coach Dave Gallegos said. “He’s done well.”
Pietila-Wiggs rapped out 11 hits at the 2013 LLWS and was one of the catalysts in leading Eastlake Little League’s 12U all-stars to a final 22-2 record.
He also became a worldwide media darling for his trademark long hair (which he cut at the end of the season during a spotlight segment on a local television station).
Pitieila-Wiggs is regarded as a natural athlete and was the first of the Eastlake LLWS ensemble to make his mark at Eastlake High School when he was brought up to the varsity baseball team at the tail end of his freshman season. He had the experience of playing in last year’s San Diego Section Division I championship game.
He also earned a spot on the school’s varsity football team to start his sophomore year and began catching touchdown passes on the gridiron besides belting out doubles on the baseball diamond.
He has become a regular contributor his second season on the school’s baseball team in the hitting department with a .378 hitting average, eight doubles, one triple, four home runs, 22 RBI, 25 runs scored, a 0.446 on-base percentage and 0.622 slugging percentage.
He had a breakout performance in an 8-3 non-league victory against St. Augustine on May 11 when he went three-for-four with a home run and five RBI.
He remains humble about his accomplishments.
“I’m just doing what I can,” he said. “I haven’t put any pressure on myself.”
Mora, who excelled both on the mound and at the plate at South Williamsport, has seen less action with just 11 plate appearances. But he has made the most of that time at the plate with two singles, two doubles and one home run to go with seven RBI, a 0.455 hitting average, 0.600 on-base percentage and 0.909 slugging percentage.
His numbers are impressive considering his limited playing time.
As a sophomore, he’s in the mix with juniors and seniors on the EHS team – something that is a new experience from playing age-group youth sports.
“I think it’s a great experience to play with different age groups and experience new things,” he explained. “It’s like having another family.
All three players admitted playing in the Little League World Series was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I think about it sometimes,” Holman explained. “For all of us, it’s an experience we won’t forget.”
“It felt amazing,” Pietila-Wiggs said. “I love it; it was a great experience.”
“It was a great experience,” Mora related. “I loved it. It’s something you’ll never forget the rest of your life.”
More amazing experiences could be on the horizon. Seven players from the 2103 Eastlake Little League 12U all-star team are currently competing in the Eastlake High School baseball program.
Charly Peterson, Jake Espinoza and Ricky Tibbett all played at the junior varsity level this season while Kevin Bateman was on the school’s freshman team.
All are waiting in the wings to contribute at the varsity level. When they all eventually reassemble wearing Eastlake school colors, it could add up to another blockbuster showing.
Little League World Series? How about a CIF championship?