Having a winning All Star team can throw a wrench into the best summer vacation plans — just ask any parent from the Bronco 11s, Mustang Red, Mustang 9s or Pinto Red teams — all advancing to the PONY Regional Tournament following their excellent play in the South Section Tournament in June. They will be joined by the Pony 14s, Pony 13s and Shetland teams who were just getting started.
The Pony 14s opened the tournament with a 10-2 win over North City before dropping their next game 3-1 against Chula Vista South. They battled back in the losers bracket to beat National City 10-8 and will face Chula Vista North (Grey) in the next round.
The Pony 13s team enjoyed a wild ride on the way to winning the South Section Tournament, starting with a 9-5 loss to Chula Vista North. They played the next two games against North City, blowing them out 19-3 and 19-4 to advance to the championship game where they got another shot at Chula Vista North.
The game was a slugfest and La Jolla counted 20 hits and 19 runs into the 7th inning, plus clutch home runs by Johnny Agbulos and Luke Bucon. Aggressive play calling included four suicide squeeze plays in one inning — all safe! Chula Vista North mounted a comeback that narrowed a six run lead down to a 19-18 nail biter with the bases loaded, one out, and Reed Meyer on the mound in relief. Third baseman Brandon Nance called time and went to the mound to confer with his pitcher, and returned to his position with the ball in his glove. Meyer stepped down from the mound to inform the umpire that they will attempt the “hidden ball play” and returned to the back of the mound, making sure not to engage the rubber. Nobody in either dugout had a clue of their scheme, but when the runner on third base took a lead, Nance tagged him and the umpire called him out. The Chula Vista manager protested the call and was sent back to his dugout but the stands went crazy. With two on and two outs, the best hitter on the Chula Vista team smashed a drive to third base where Nance dove to knock it down and was somehow able to scramble back and tag the base to end the game and the tournament — La Jolla won 19-18!
With the South Section banner in their possession, the Bronco 11s team rolled into the Region Tournament where they won their first game against La Costa 2-1 in a pitching and defensive battle that went 10 innings led by Sterling Hayes on the hill for the first seven innings, followed by Carson Greene to shut down La Costa.
Greene’s triple in the 10th led to a game winning RBI by Hayes. La Jolla faced the host team Tecolote 11s in the next game and defeated them by a 5-2 margin with Carson Greene going the distance for the win, dropping them into the losers bracket where they battled back to face La Jolla again on July 4th. Key hits came from James Shimashita, Evan Benham, Garret Brown, Noah McBride and Miles Matalon. In a double-elimination format, the La Jolla 11s dropped the morning game 7-0 and turned around 30 minutes later to trample Tecolote 13-1 (mercy rule) and take the Region championship. The La Jolla Bronco 11s advance to the Super Region Tournament in Whittier later in the month.
In the South Section Tournament, the LJ Mustang Red team had to battle back from the loser’s bracket by beating Ramona Red 8-7 in order to have their rematch with Chula Vista South, who had beaten them in the winners bracket 5-3.
This time La Jolla came out ahead 11-5 and for good measure, beat them again 9- 8 to take the title. The Mustang Red team advanced to the Region Tournament in Carlsbad where they opened up with a 19-8 rout over San Marcos. Unfortunately, Chula Vista South avenged their losses in the Sectional tourney with a 14-4 win. LJ Mustang Red was knocked out of the tournament in a 6-5 loss to La Costa. This team exceeded all expectations and showed a lot of grit and guts throughout their tournament run.
The LJ Mustang 9s lost their first game in the bottom of the sixth inning 11-9 in the Region Tournament against La Costa Stealth. In the elimination bracket, they beat the top-seed Fallbrook team 7-2 with solid pitching from Patrick Ryan and Jack Scoma, and seven hits between Noah Brown and Austin Schroeder. They were knocked out of the tournament by La Costa Mavericks in a lopsided 11-1 game.
Sometimes fireworks arrive before the 4th of July – especially when Caden Fioroni is playing on the Pinto Red team. During the Section Tournament, he hit nine home runs for an unbelievable 22 RBIs. During the South Section Tournament, Luke Brunette, Luke Roberts, Jack Boynton and Diego Solis also hit home runs to lead the team past Paradise Hills 22-11 and LJ Blue 20-6 (both by mercy rule). The Pinto Red team beat Mira Mesa Blue 13-12 in the semifinals before taking North City Red 17-16 in the semis. Tecolote Red beat La Jolla 14-12 in the Section finals, and they advance to the Region Tournament.
In the Regional Tournament, the Pinto team got past San Marcos 13-3 with home runs by Diego Solis and Caden Fioroni and key hits from Diego Solis, Connor Goldman, Cole Harrison and Luke Brunette. Alex Mayorga was a standout on defense. LJ faced Tecolote in the next game that was tied 12-12 into the sixth with two outs when Tecolote scored two runs on a big double for a 14-12 final score.
Hot and tired, the boys had to turn around and play the La Costa Knuckleheads in a back and forth game that had La Jolla behind 12-7 after five innings when the Pinto players put together a 6-run rally led by Diego Solis’ 3-run homer. La Costa responded with two runs in the bottom half of the frame to win the game and knock La Jolla out of the tournament.
This year, even the Shetland league got into the act with a 6-year old team that faced La Costa Black in their first game, losing a close one 9-8. Coach Michael Solis reported a great comeback in the next game by beating Tecolote 15-5. They played last night and with a win, they would advance to the So Cal World Series.
— Tom Murphy, LJYB