By Tom Murphy,
La Jolla Youth BaseballThough unofficial, La Jolla Youth Baseball (LJYB) has two halves to its season. Between Opening Day and spring break, most of the coaches focus on development and moving players around as much as possible. In the older leagues, having a stable of pitchers for post-season play is key for a double-elimination playoff format. It’s a long-standing rule in Mustang and Bronco leagues that each team must throw four pitchers in a complete game (most leagues require three.)
After the week off for spring break, it will be fun to see where things stand and how different the second half plays out.
Pony Division, two LJYB teams participate in the 10-team San Diego Pony inter-league with nine ‘away’ games. Last year, a LJYB team won the championship at the Memorial Day tourney. To date, seven games have been recorded and the Aladdin team is tied for second place with a 4-3 record while Las Patronas in a three-way tie for third place with a 2-4 record.
Last week LP had an exciting game against Tecolote-Yankees at home. LP pitchers Cade Kronemeyer, Blaise Gimber and Carson Green held the Yankees to one run in five innings.
Closer Michael Campagna took a 4-1 lead into the seventh inning when a couple of bloop hits and a few bobbled balls quickly turned into 5-4 game with Las Patronas getting the last at-bat.
With two outs, Bobby Murphy drew a walk from an 0-2 count followed by a sharp single by Gimber. Coach Solis called a double steal to advance the tying run to third and the winning run to second.
On a 1-2 count, Murphy stole home on the pitch. In spite of a balk that went unnoticed, a high throw to the plate resulted in a collision and the runner was called out in a bang-bang play. Game over — Yankees win but in an exciting go-for-it finish. That’s Pony baseball.
Bronco Divisionalso plays home and away games with Tecolote and Mission Bay. Pharmatek has posted a 4-3-1 record that appears to lead the LJYB teams.
With a few games to be posted, Mitch’s Surf Shop, Morgan Stanley and Performance Titanium teams have similar records and remain competitive among the 12 extramural teams.
With 114 kids on 10 teams, the
Mustang Divisionis bursting with activity. It has a competitive group of coaches and there have been a number of wild games already.
Mustang President Cindi Stratton introduced a new concept this season that focused on pitcher development: Every team plays five games with the fourth inning dedicated to throwing a “rookie” pitcher who wanted to give it a try. Wonderful things came of it and the five- run rule keeps the game moving along.
With eight games posted, Garden Communities, Sector 9 and Qualcomm teams each have six wins. The rest of the league is separated by only a few games and the second half is wide open. Keep in mind that everyone makes the playoffs so the most they play for in the regular season is bracket seeding and bragging rights.
Pinto Divisionis as robust as Mustang with 116 kids on 10 teams. The pitching machine used in practice guarantees high scoring games and most teams have scored over 100 runs in the last eight games.
In Pinto, defense is the secret sauce and the top teams always keep opponents to under 100 runs in the first half. The Natural High team is a good example with a 7-1 record, followed by Voices for Children and SD storage. Most of the teams are bunched in the middle and that’s how Pinto rolls.
Shetlandgame ends in a tie. It’s uncanny. The Majors have been playing off the pitching machine all season and they are getting in a groove. The Minor teams have been working off of a tee and starting in April will introduce the pitching machine for as many players who are interested. Some kids prefer the tee all season.
Homer’s Alley:Pharmatek’s Luke Brunette and Marcus Scott hit the only two home runs in Bronco this season. Nathan Latimer hit the solo shot in Mustang so far.
Pony Day at Petco Park■ San Diego Padres is hosting its annual Pony Day at Petco Park as the Padres face the Detroit Tigers at 1:10 p.m., Sunday, April 13. A special pre-game parade on the Petco Park field is open to all La Jolla Youth Baseball players and coaches. Tickets: 300 seats are available at $16 per person at LJYB.org