Feature Stories

‘Nickenhagen’ is a 1-2 punch for Huntington Beach baseball team

Huntington Beach players left hander Nick Pratto, left, has signed with USC, and right hander Hagen Danner, right, has signed with UCLA. Danner catches Pratto and has caught him since they were seven years old and they both helped Ocean View Little League beat Japan 2-1 in the 2011 Little League championship game. 
in Santa Ana, CA on Tuesday, April  18, 2017. (Photo by Sam Gangwer, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Huntington Beach players left hander Nick Pratto, left, has signed with USC, and right hander Hagen Danner, right, has signed with UCLA. Danner catches Pratto and has caught him since they were seven years old and they both helped Ocean View Little League beat Japan 2-1 in the 2011 Little League championship game. in Santa Ana, CA on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. (Photo by Sam Gangwer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Nick Pratto lined up between second and third with the legit Huntington Beach infielders, taking his turn at ground balls at Monday’s practice.

“He wants me to play him at shortstop,” Coach Benji Medure said as he laughed.

It’s a joke because Pratto is a southpaw. But for the regular-season finale, Pratto is digging out an old left-handed catcher’s mitt and campaigning to catch Hagen Danner, who was clocked at 96 mph by one major league team, even though Danner is the catcher when Pratto pitches.

“They’re serious about that,” said Jeff Pratto, Nick’s dad.

The Huntington Beach seniors are grabbing every crumb off this smorgasbord. This is their final chance to play together.

Their next games, most likely, will be played in Idaho Falls or Batavia or some other foreign place, riding a bus and staying in a motel with thimble-sized soap.

They also will be pros by then, which has been a seed in their minds since the Little League World Series and maybe beyond.

But nothing else will be like this…

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