As a tune-up for the PONY Section Tournament on June 19, 2015, La Jolla Youth Baseball entered as many tournament teams as possible in the Memorial Day event hosted by Tecolote Youth Baseball. A total of 13 teams could be some sort of record! LJYB also unveiled its new look for All Star uniforms featuring red-and-black lettering on gray jerseys and caps — an “old school” look that players and parents seemed to appreciate.
La Jolla’s three Bronco teams were eliminated in the semi-final round. Bronco Blue turned a triple play against Tecolote Blue. Tecolote teams took home most of the trophies, so it was great to see the Mustang 10U Red team come up with a big victory for La Jolla in the last game of the tourney. Mustang teams did well with an overall 11 — 5 record, with all teams winning at least one game. 9U Blue got an exciting win on Saturday, 10U Blue with three victories and 9U Red losing to Tec in the “Silver” championship — 30 Mustang pitchers saw action over the tournament.
The Pinto Red (8U) team made it all the way to the Championship game, rattling off four straight victories before losing a 23-19 slugfest to Tecolote in the finals. The Reds started the tournament with a convincing 21-5 victory over Paradise Hills. They went on to knock of a talented La Costa team 12-11 to earn a No. 1 seed in the elimination round. Next up La Jolla defeated Mira Mesa 17-13. In the semi-finals La Jolla overcame injuries to four players to beat Mission Bay Black 19-14; the game featured a home run by Santino Grasso. While the finals didn’t go their way, the Pinto Reds look forward to playing Tecolote again in the PONY Tournament.
The Pinto 7’s battled their way to the Championship game by beating two 7- and 8-year-old mixed teams from North City and Mission Bay in exciting one run games. The Championship was a rematch of an earlier pool game versus the Tecolote 7’s that mercied La Jolla 19-2 in their first matchup. The La Jolla 7’s fought valiantly in the final, as it was a one-run game through the first four innings. The offense was powered by Ryan Kestler’s grand slam, and Carl Murfey and George Hartford each chipping in three hits. The defense was anchored by vacuum-like performances from Luke Castagnola and Clyde Kates. Unfortunately, they fell short in the end, 17-12, and took home the runner-up medal.
The Shetland league fielded three teams coached by Chris Circuit, Mac Armstrong and Aaron Hanson. All advanced to the final day of the tournament and finished in second, third and fourth place. The teams won a total of nine games in the tournament with many great plays and strong performances. Julian Benavidez, while playing for the Red team, drove a ball over the fence for one of the only home runs in the Shetland tournament. In an early game versus Mira Mesa, Nathan Thomson (playing for the White Team) turned a rare unassisted triple play. With runners on first and second base, Nathan caught a line drive playing second base, he stepped on second base for the second out, and tagged the runner coming from first base for the third out.
Shetland parents and coaches had a great year introducing a new crop of players to the game of baseball. This season the Shetland League had about 90 players on 11 teams.
• PONY Section Tournament: June 19-29, 2015 in Ramona, where LJYB will send eight teams to compete for the Region Tournament to start July 14. Each division tournament plays through Super Region, Zone and a World Series in different parts of the country. (Little League only offers a World Series tournament experience for the 12U players.)
• For more information about La Jolla Youth Baseball, visit ljyb.org