La Jolla Youth Baseball wrapped up a memorable 2016 season with exciting Championship games in the Pinto, Mustang and Bronco Divisions May 14. The Shetland Division completed their season earlier in the month and the three pony teams play their San Diego Pony Inter-League Playoffs over Memorial Day weekend at Tecolote.
The Pinto Championship came down to a matchup between the No. 1 seed Hagan Dentistry, coached by Luke Daniels, and the No. 2 seed Wells Fargo, managed by Greg Spiro. Daniel’s squad rolled through the regular season, notching just one loss, a few weeks ago to Wells Fargo. The stakes were high throughout the game and the play was great on both sides. Big hits by Hagan’s Quinn Daniels, Clyde Kates, Axel Sauvage, Trevor Kula and Beau Sudberry all helped their team take home the 2016 Pinto Championship.
As Red Door Interactive Manager Rick MacDonald said, " I have seen a lot of Mustang baseball, and I think the LJYB history books would be hard-pressed to find a better championship series."
The matchup featured Jay Sakamoto's Willis Allen team, the No. 5 seed entering from the "losers" bracket having to win two games against "winners" bracket entry, Red Door Interactive, the No. 7 seed.
The first game was close all the way through with quality pitching on both sides — Luke Westfall, Red Door, and Cameron Ouyang, Willis Allen, did an outstanding job as first year Mustang Division players. The game featured clutch hitting throughout — notables were Devin Jones with several blast doubles for Willis Allen and doubles by Walter Birnbaum for Red Door. Willis Allen prevailed with closer Koji Sakamoto recording the final out in the bottom of the 6th to secure an 8-7 win and force an afternoon game for all the marbles.
As the day concluded, the entire Mustang outfield fence was lined with parents and players from Pinto to Pony who hung around to watch this fantastic Championship game. The second game was another nail-bitter going into an extra inning with Red Door Interactive going ahead by two runs in the top of the 7th. Willis Allen had several infield hits to load the bases after scoring the tying runs. Gabriel Rebeiz knocked in the bases loaded winning run to secure the Championship for the Willis Allen team. Final 12-11. A very exciting Mustang Championship matchup and indeed, one for the history books!
And while we are on the subject of history books in LJYB, the Bronco division celebrated an incredible year of power baseball this season. Anyone who has visited our website (ljyb.org) and perused “Homer’s Alley” will tell you that we’ve seen balls fly out of the park at a record pace. I believe the final tally saw over 60 balls clear the fences this season, led by Jack Boynton and followed closely by Nathan Latimer. What a year for the long ball!
The Bronco Championship was played between Ben Grieve’s Chris Smith Personal Training team and Michael Solis’ The Patio squad. Grieve’s team had a fantastic regular season and came into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Their road to the championship game was highlighted by several close victories, including a game winning walk-off home run by Jesus Mozo!
Not to be outdone, Michael Solis’ team, the No. 2 seed, having lost a game in the road to Saturday, played what will go down as one of the most epic games in LJYB Bronco history versus Brad Kates’ gutty Mitch’s team. This back and forth game on Friday featured everything – fantastic pitching, clutch hits, game tying home runs by, spectacular defense and, to top it off, a walk-off suicide squeeze!
The Championship game was another nail-biter, with the lead changing several times.
The Patio’s solid top to bottom balanced lineup kept the game close. Spence Carswell’s defense and pitching and Sebastian Altomare and Jack Evan’s key hits kept the game close. In the end, clutch hits and very strong pitching and hitting from Nicky Reynolds, Kevin Steel, and Johnny Luetzow, along with solid first base play (and epic baserunning) by Bode Grieve, proved enough to win the Bronco Championship for Grieve’s team.
Though the regular season is now over and the main season of La Jolla Youth Baseball is complete, there is a lot more baseball to be played with All Stars getting started. First up is the traditional Memorial Day Tournament hosted by Tecolote Youth Baseball. LJYB entered 12 teams in this festive event: Bronco (3), Mustang (4), Pinto (3) and Shetland (2).
The tournament is excellent preparation for the official PONY Section Tournament that starts in June. The PONY tournaments play through Section, Region, Super-Region, Zone and ends with a World Series in each division. For a small league, LJYB historically fares well in these tournaments as evidenced by the many PONY tournament banners displayed around the La Jolla fields.
For information about La Jolla Youth Baseball, visit ljyb.org