By Tom MurphyLJYB Vice President
La Jolla Youth Baseball (LJYB) believes in the old adage “the more, the merrier” when it comes to the Memorial Day Tournament hosted by Tecolote Youth Baseball each year. This could be updated to say “the more, the improved, the merrier” because that’s what happens for every kid who gains post-season experience.
Putting on that La Jolla jersey and representing the league is important and tournament play brings out the best in every player: more practice, plus higher level of play, equals improved skills and mental ability.
This year LJYB sent 13 teams over to compete — two Pony, two Bronco, four Mustang, three Pinto and two Shetland. The oldest Pony team and the youngest Shetland team brought home the bookend championship trophies.
In Pony, La Jolla’s Aladdin was seeded No. 1 and On the Inside Design was No 2. Unfortunately Aladdin was upset by a much- improved Emerald team that was called at 9-9 tie due to darkness and later finished in an unusual ‘California Tie-break’ that didn’t go their way.
They lost their next game with a depleted roster and were done for the weekend.
Meanwhile OTID won their first three games giving up only one run against the Tec Bruins, Mission Bay and Tec Toreros in extra innings. They faced the Toreros again in a fantastic championship game that went down to the wire. OTID was up 8-6 in the last inning, but the bases were loaded with one out when Reed Farley came in relief for Carson Greene to face the No. 3 and No. 4 batters in the order. In an impressive display of guts and power, he blew six straight fastballs past the best hitters on the team for strikeouts to end the game and secure the championship for La Jolla.
The Bronco Red team finished with a 1-2 record in the tournament including an 11-3 mercy win over the North City 11s and a very close 2-0 loss to Tec Red who went on to win the Gold division.
One swing — a two-run homer — was the difference. Coach Tim Scott said they left a dozen runners on base and hit hard shots right at fielders — truly a game of inches.
Coach Dave Hammel’s Bronco Blue team had two quick losses in pool play and won a terrific game 8-6 against a tough north City Mix team. They made it to the finals of the Silver division where they lost to the NC 11s and received a Silver medal for their tournament play.
Billy egan manages the Mustang Red team — a talented and enthusiastic group of kids. They beat Paradise Hills in their first game with solid pitching by Sam MacDorman and Alex Mayorga.
Diego Solis provided ESPN-like highlight moments in the field and at the plate. He continued to shine through tough losses to north City Red and Tecolote Red as their bats cooled off.
The Mustang Blue team opened with a tough loss, then played their best game against Tecolote Blue where they mounted a big comeback, but came up a run short at the end. With a few roster changes, Coach Fritz Ortlieb will return for another round in the POnY tournament in june.
The Mustang 9s may be one of LJYBs most talented teams and with Dave Klimkiewecz at the helm, they were a hot prospect to advance deep into the tourney. They played Tecolote 9s right off the bat and lost one of the tightest games of the weekend 7-6. They handily beat the La jolla White team (aka Blue 9s) but they had to play the next game right away, facing a rested Tecolote 9s again.
In a competitive rematch, they battled back and forth through five innings before Tec 9s took the lead for good. Look for this team to mount a run at the POnY Section title in a couple of weeks. For the first time in memory, LjYB entered a second 9s team managed by Dan Ryan.
LJYB entered three Pinto teams into the tournament: Pinto Red was managed by Michael Solis, Pinto Blue was managed by Chris Wahl and Sam Stahl coached the mighty Pinto 7s. All had fun, played hard and honed their skills in preparation for the official POnY tournament starting june 22.
The highlight game had to be the Red team’s 21-5 blowout over La Costa Gold in the opening round. The team was led by Kevin Steel’s offensive display going 3 for 5 with two homers into the left field bleachers and five RBIs. Beau Brown, john Hartford, jacob Campagna, nate Crater and julian Solis all had three hits apiece. They played flawless defense and it is hard to picture another team beating them, but it happened twice before the tournament was over.
La Jolla has earned a deserved reputation for developing winning Shetland teams and this year is no exception. For the third consecutive year, these 5- and 6-year-old boys ran the table and brought home the hardware. In his first year back at the LJYB fields, Manager Mac Armstrong recalled his many years playing on the Cliffridge fields with his father as coach. now it’s his turn and he didn’t waste time with the Shetland Blue team, defeating Tecolote Blue 9-6, Tecolote White 19-6, North City West 19-3 in their march to the finals.
Key plays and hits were made by Hank Hansen, Ryan Popkin, Christopher Monnell, Logan MacLean, Henry Armstrong, Cameron Ouyang, Finn Kjos and Will Mullen. In the championship game, LJ was down 9-6 in the third inning and answered back with a 5-run inning in the bottom frame to take the lead for good.
Dillon Spiro made a game-saving catch in the outfield to kill a rally and timely hits were made by Beau Sudberry, Bobby Tyson and Austin Alringer. Congratulations to the 2013 Shetland Champions!
Next up: LJYB will send 8-9 teams to the official PONY Sectional Tournament june 22-29. Most games will be played in Ramona. Teams that advance to Regionals and beyond will play in July. PONY has a World Series for each division and our Shetland team reached that level the last two years.
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