La Jolla Youth Baseball All-Star teams head to super regionals

La Jolla’s Walter Birnbaum continues the hit parade in the Shetland Southwest Regional Final.
La Jolla’s Walter Birnbaum continues the hit parade in the Shetland Southwest Regional Final.

If you are following an La Jolla Youth Baseball All-Star team that is playing this weekend, you will need a suitcase and a hotel room, because these teams are playing in 
the PONY Super Region Tournament in Whittier or West Covina.

The Pony 13 and Bronco 11 teams both start their tournament games this evening so there should be some good La Jolla karma flowing through the Whittier fields. In the double-elimination format they are guaranteed to play again on Saturday, which happens to coincide with the dreaded “carmageddon” that is descending upon the Southland this weekend. The Region Champion Shetland team starts the inaugural SoCal World Series pool play on July 22.

In order to qualify for the Super Region tourney, the Pony 13s had to place among the top three teams in the Region Tournament. They started with a big 10-0 win over La Costa, a team that was a tougher opponent than the score reflects. Next they faced Emerald who went down 9-2 with Brandon Nance throwing a one-hit complete game and striking out 11 batters. Nance contributed a couple of doubles of his own to help the cause, and Reed Meyer came up with a web gem in the fourth inning by robbing a sure hit in the hole near second base and making a perfect throw to kill an Emerald rally. The win moved them into the semifinal round and guaranteed La Jolla a berth in the Super Region. On Sunday, the Pony 13s had a rematch with Chula Vista North, which was still sore about the wild 19-18 loss in the Section championship game. La Jolla lost this one 7-5 even though Luke Bucon pitched a complete game and hit a home run that landed somewhere near El Capitan High School.

Immediately following the game, La Jolla turned around and played Vista in the semifinal of the loser’s bracket. The Pony 13s battled and lost a close 5-4 game with Kevin Boermeister pitching 5 2/3 innings and Reed Meyer finishing the game in relief.

Luke Bucon hit another home run bomb and Max Scott added a couple of clutch hits to keep La Jolla in the game. The important thing to remember after dropping a doubleheader to two very good teams is that they already had a spot in the next round and got a few days to rest for their game tonight.

When LJYB heard that PONY proposed Shetland All Star tournaments, the initial reaction was humorous. Travel tournaments for six-year-old kids? Were they factoring naps into the schedule and were sippy cups allowed in the dugout? When it came time to act upon the opportunity, there were 20-plus players signed up and plenty of coaches willing to try this adventure. The experiment proved fruitful when the LJYB Shetland Red team won the Tecolote Memorial Day Tournament.

The PONY Regional Tournament opened on July 2nd with La Jolla Shetland defeating Chula Vista South 15-4. The following day they lost their only game 9-8 in a real nail biter against Carlsbad Black, which dropped them into the loser’s bracket where each game is elimination for one team. These Shetland boys are resilient and tough because they played doubleheaders in 100-degree weather and somehow won five straight games to take the Region Championship.

They beat Tecolote 15-5, Chula Vista South and Fallbrook 23-5. Because they were coming from the loser’s bracket, they faced Carlsbad Black again and had to beat them twice to win the coveted Region banner. In the first game, they played with only three outfielders (four are allowed) and were down 7-0 before coming back to tie the game. When La Jolla was down 9-7 in the bottom of the 5th inning with the bases loaded, Austin Bale hit a bases-clearing walk-off single to put La Jolla into the championship game with a 10-9 victory. Thirty minutes later, the two teams had to square off again, this time for the Region title. This game belonged to La Jolla and after the first inning it was 5-0 and they never looked back. Final score 11-5 with La Jolla Shetland being the #1 seed from the South Region as they enter the SoCal World Series on July 22nd.

Good luck to the Pony 13s, Bronco 11s and Shetland teams from LJYB!

—Tom Murphy, LJYB



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