La Jolla Youth Baseball marks 2014 opener with memorable game


By Tom Murphy

La Jolla Youth Baseball

After practicing for a month, La Jolla Youth Baseball players finally donned their authentic Padres jerseys and — lo and behold — played one the those games that will be remembered for a long time.

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the Morgan Stanley and Mitch’s Surf Shop teams took the Bronco Field in their first meeting of the 2014 season and Morgan Stanley got off to a dizzying 10-0 lead after two innings.

Down but not out, Mitch’s made a move in the bottom of the fourth with big hits by Diego Solis, Matt Stone and Aidan Canino. Down 12-6, Mitch’s manufactured five more runs off of walks and passed balls. Diego Solis shut down Morgan Stanley’s potent offense with three strikeouts in the top of the sixth inning, and then took the lead in the bottom half thanks to a couple more walks and some aggressive base running.

Morgan Stanley tied the game in the top of the seventh with a pair of timely hits. With the game knotted at 13 apiece, speedy Devin Bale beat out an infield single, and advanced to third base following a walk to Noah Brown. With the winning run 70 feet away, Coach Brian Canino conferred with the batter, his son, Aiden. The call is a suicide squeeze bunt that is perfectly executed to score Bale and win the game. These boys did not give up when faced with a 10-run deficit.

For the first time in recent memory, La Jolla Youth Baseball traveled to Tecolote Youth Baseball for the first of seven Mustang division interleague games against cross-town rivals. This inaugural contest pitted the Merrill Lynch team against the Tecolote Red Sox. Hunter Kates, Aiden Gutierrez, Jackson Stratton, Nathan Kirn and Connor Hobbs pitched well and kept Tecolote hits to a minimum, including Gutierrez striking out the side in the second. Merrill Lynch’s pitchers were aided by solid fielding from Alex Goldman, Jesus Mozo and Wil Buckley.

In a seesaw affair, the game came down to the final inning. Closer Connor Hobbs stymied the Tec Red Sox with the bases loaded by striking out one and forcing their cleanup hitter into an inning-ending 4-3 double play by Spence Carswell and Hunter Kates.

In the bottom of the last and tied, Merrill Lynch started a two-out rally with back-to-back-to-back hot shots by Carswell, Kates and Stratton en route to a hard fought victory just before the sun set on Tecolote and the Red Sox.

Elsewhere on the fields at Cliffridge Park, a special rite of passage took place for about 50 Shetland players who donned a pair of cleats and carried their baseball bag into the dugout for the first time. These kids are as cute as it gets and watching them hit their first baseball off the tee and run to first base is a memory that is etched in every parent’s mind — and digitally enhanced on their iPads.

Juxtaposed alongside the Shetland Field are the big kids playing on the Pony Field. They must look like giants to these 5- and 6-year-old players, especially when some of them pitch 75 mph fastballs and hit the ball 270 feet over the scoreboard into the canyon.

Standing between these two fields really is a look into the next 10 years for these new baseball families.

• For information about La Jolla Youth Baseball, visit