La Jolla Youth Baseball sends 10 teams to PONY Section tournament

La Jolla Youth Baseball’s Pony All Stars team gather during the Regionals at Lakeside. Front Row: Maxwell Hyytinen, Evan Benham, Michael Campagna, Trevor Ace, Blaise Gimber, Bobby Murphy and Lachlan MacDonald. Back Row: Coach Scott Montana, Manager Jake Grosz, Alex Monell, Cary Percket, Marco Molina, Christophe Naviaux and Coach Rick MacDonald (Courtesy Photo)
La Jolla Youth Baseball’s Pony All Stars team gather during the Regionals at Lakeside. Front Row: Maxwell Hyytinen, Evan Benham, Michael Campagna, Trevor Ace, Blaise Gimber, Bobby Murphy and Lachlan MacDonald. Back Row: Coach Scott Montana, Manager Jake Grosz, Alex Monell, Cary Percket, Marco Molina, Christophe Naviaux and Coach Rick MacDonald (Courtesy Photo)
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La Jolla Youth Baseball’s Pony All Stars team gather during the Regionals at Lakeside. Front Row: Maxwell Hyytinen, Evan Benham, Michael Campagna, Trevor Ace, Blaise Gimber, Bobby Murphy and Lachlan MacDonald. Back Row: Coach Scott Montana, Manager Jake Grosz, Alex Monell, Cary Percket, Marco Molina, Christophe Naviaux and Coach Rick MacDonald (Courtesy Photo)

By Tom Murphy

La Jolla Youth Baseball

For many baseball families in La Jolla, summer vacations have to wait. A successful PONY All Star team starts with a local Section tournament in mid-June and may last a couple of weeks. LJYB sent 10 teams to the PONY Section tournament. The top four teams advance to a Region tournament where the drive gets longer and the pitching gets tougher.

Six LJYB teams passed muster at Section to play again in the Region tournament. The Super Region tournament begins in mid-July and a few LJYB teams still have a shot at moving on to Western Zone and ultimately — the PONY World Series.

Unlike Little League where only the 12-year old kids play into their World Series in Wil- liamsport, the PONY brand of baseball allows for every age group to compete for a World Series title, and LJYB usually enters teams in nine of these age-specific tournaments.

■ La Jolla’s

Pony All Stars

tried a new approach this year and hired the La Jolla High School Varsity pitching coach to manage the team. Jake Grosz grew up played baseball here so his return to the Pony field was a bit of a homecoming. He was assisted by Scott Montana, Rick MacDonald and John Ace.

They ran high-intensity practices, much like they do at the high school level. The team was a mix of 13- and 14-year-old players, who responded well to the new coaches.

After dropping their opening Section game to Chula Vista South (who won the tourney), La Jolla Pony defeated La Costa 13-4 and Carlsbad 11-3. Evan Benham pitched five strong innings and allowed one earned run in the La Costa game.

In the final Section game, Kenny Hayden pitched a complete game, allowing just two earned runs in a nail-biter 6-5 walk-off loss to Escondido in the bottom of the seventh. Trevor Ace led the team with most hits, pitched a winning game, and made countless plays at shortstop. Michael Campagna hit a home run against La Costa.

With two wins in the Section tournament in Ramona, La Jolla Pony advanced to the Region tournament in Lakeside in early July. They lost to the top seed Lakeside team in their first game and had a rematch against Escondido in the elimination game. Blaise Gimber pitched a gem of a game yet Escondido scrounged two unearned runs to sneak past La Jolla Pony 2-0.

■ The

Bronco Red

team had a tough draw in the PONY Section tournament with a play-in game requiring three wins instead of two in order to advance to the Region tournament. They achieved this with wins over Tecolote (12-3), Paradise Hills (13-0) and Emerald (16-5). Their two losses were epic battles against rival North City that included many lead changes and “web gem” plays in the field.

Arman Sanchez-Mohit led the charge batting .533 for the tourney followed by Marcus Scott at .500, Austin Schroeder at .450 and DJ Lindroth at .400. Home runs were hit by Scott (2), Lindroth, Sanchez- Mohit and Johnny Meyerott. Bronco hurlers were led by Austin Schroeder, Sanchez-Mohit and Aidan Canino. Also contributing on the hill were Lindroth, Justin Tang, Matthew Hammel and Noah Brown.

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