The Santa Margarita National Little League all-star team will be without its manager when it plays in Saturday’s championship game of the West Regional tournament.
C.J. Ankrum received a one-game suspension Friday for violating Little League’s policies regarding unsportsmanlike conduct and the high standard that Little League International holds for all its players, coaches, umpires, and volunteers, according to Brian McClintock, senior director of communications, Little League Baseball & Softball.
During Santa Margarita’s 12-8 victory over the Hilo Little League all- stars Thursday, Ankrum “used inappropriate language that was seen and heard in” ESPN’s broadcast, McClintock said.
The incident was then reviewed by the Little League International Tournament Committee, which issued the one-game suspension, McClintock said.
If Santa Margarita defeats the all-star team from Dixie Little League Saturday to advance to the Little League World Series, Ankrum will be permitted to continue to manage the team in future games, McClintock said.
The Santa Margarita Little League Executive Committee posted a statement on its Facebook page Friday declaring that it understood Little League International’s ruling and does not condone the use of profanity on or off the playing field.
“Coach Ankrum’s word was uttered during a tense moment of the game, and it happened to be caught by an overhead microphone at the stadium,” the statement said. “Coach Ankrum did not direct the word at any umpire, official, coach or player. He merely directed the statement to himself.
Santa Margarita Little League fully supports coaches Ankrum, (Joe) Rutter and (Rich) Gray, as well as the players of our 12-year-old National all- star team. We are confident that they will be fully prepared to take on either Hawaii or Utah in (Saturday’s) Western Regional Championship game.”
The statement was issued before Dixie, the Utah state champion, defeated the Hilo Little League all-stars 12-6, in a semifinal Friday night to qualify for the championship game, overcoming a 6-0 second-inning deficit with four runs each in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
Santa Margarita, the Southern California champion, is 15-0 in its four tournaments, including Thursday’s victory when it scored six runs in the top of the sixth and final inning to overcome a 7-6 deficit against Hilo in a semifinal game to earn a berth in the championship game.
St. George, Utah-based Dixie is 7-1 in its two tournaments.
The entire West Regional is being played at Al Houghton Stadium in San Bernardino. The tournament winner will advance to the Little League World Series.
Rancho Santa Margarita-based Santa Margarita is seeking to be the eighth Orange County team to win the West Regional and advance to the Little League World Series, which is played in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
The most recent time an Orange County team advanced to the Little League World Series was in 2011 when the all-star team from Huntington Beach’s Ocean View Little League went on to become the first team from the county to win the world championship.
—City News Service
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