La Jolla Youth Baseball’s Pony All Stars advance to Super Region tourney

By Tom Murphy

La Jolla Youth Baseball

La Jolla Youth Baseball saw several All-Star teams go deep into the regional tournaments, and the seasoned vets from Pony league are the last team still playing.

• La Jolla Pony

The “dog days of summer” have been renamed the “Pony days of summer” for how long these tournaments continue — especially if you are as talented as the LJYB Pony All Stars, led by Manager Casey Mariucci. They placed second in the Section tournament, which qualified them for the Southwest Region showdown. Now, they will battle it out for a chance to play in the Super Region, Zone and World Series.

La Jolla Pony started out the tournament with hot bats and solid defense in the first two games, beating Vista, 19-3, and Chula Vista South, 17-2. The hitting barrage was lead by Cole Dimich, Carson Greene, Dane Hansen, Casey Mariucci, Noah McBride and Nick Ferenczy.

In the third round, they faced a tough Chula Vista North team that was close through five innings before CVN pulled ahead to an 11-3 win. Dropping into the losers bracket, La Jolla Pony faced Chula Vista South again and knocked them out of the tourney with a 5-4 victory. The win was highlighted by a home run by Ferenczy and Tate Samuelson’s pitching, which included pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh.

La Jolla made it to the championship game against the undefeated Chula Vista North, and had to beat them twice in the double-header format. McBride’s pitching stymied CVN for five innings and relief pitcher Mariucci came in to shut them down for a big 12-9 win for La Jolla.

The boys were hopeful to take the second win in Chula Vista, and they were confident to play against the CVN home team, although it didn’t help that the local fans were hostile and unruly — especially for the kids in the outfield. Mariucci was the starting pitcher and his teammates set a good foundation with an early 5-0 lead.

Both teams were blasting the ball with several lead changes. Greene opened up the fifth inning with a solo blast over the fence for a 6-5 lead. When right fielder Hansen came up with a runner aboard, he had something for the hecklers behind the right field fence — he hit a screaming line drive right over their heads into the hillside behind them, which seemed to quiet them down.

Nick Hammel relieved Ben Wintringer on the mound and kept CVN off the bases. Reed Farley added to the slugfest with a two-run dinger and at the end of regulation play the score was 13-13.

The tournament director stopped the game at 11 p.m. and called the boys back to finish the game the next evening. La Jolla’s power hitting started right back up with Mariucci hitting a two-run homer, followed by Samuelson’s solo blast. With La Jolla up 16-13, Hammel returned to the hill and held CVN scoreless in the ninth to secure the championship.

In all, eight La Jolla players homered in this tournament. Pony Super Regionals started July 25 in Lakeside with La Jolla being the No. 1 seed. The top two teams advance to the Western Zone tournament in Whittier in August.

• Bronco Red

The Bronco Red team advanced to San Marcos where they faced Escondido in the first Regional round, losing in a close 4-3 game. They faced Carlsbad in the losers bracket but came up short (9-3) to wrap up their post-season play. Coach Tim Scott was very proud of how well the boys played in all the tournaments.

• Mustang-9

The Mustang-9’s cleared Regionals in Carlsbad to advance to the Super Region tournament in Los Alamitos. The road to Super Region started by beating Escondido 9-8 in the first round, followed by a 9-5 loss to La Costa Golden Hurricane, which dropped them into the losers bracket.

The Mustang-9’s needed two wins to advance and they played a great game against La Costa Blue Devils, led by Nathan Latimer’s two, two-run homers en route to a 12-9 victory. Latimer and Jake Klimkiewicz pitched three innings apiece, and Hunter Kates and Spence Carswell made ESPN-worthy defensive plays.

Acing another elimination game, La Jolla got past San Marcos Mayhem, 12-4, to qualify for Super Region play. They were knocked out of Regionals the next day when they lost again to La Costa Golden Hurricane, 13-2. However, they still placed in the top three, and advanced.

La Jolla Mustang-9’s traveled up to Los Alamitos for the Super Region tournament where there was serious competition from all over Southern California. They faced the host team Los Alamitos in their opening round and lost 8-5 (Los Alamitos went on to win the tournament.)

Pacific Palisades eventually eliminated them (7-3), bringing to an end a fantastic post-season run for these very talented and well-coached 9-year-old boys. This team will be a force for years to come.

• Pinto Red

La Jolla Pinto Red opened their Regional effort with an exciting 11-10 win over La Costa Heat. They lost their next game 10-3 to a tough Ramona Red team. They were knocked out of the Regionals by rival Tecolote Red, who later made it to the finals and advanced to Super Region, 10-8.

• Pinto-7

La Jolla’s up-and-coming Pinto-7’s fought valiantly in their Super Region opener against North City, but eventually lost in a 22-16 uproar. They battled back in the losers bracket with solid wins over Santa Barbara (20-10), La Costa Big Kats (23-16) and San Marcos Rattlers (19-4), which qualified them for a berth in the Pinto-7 World Series. However, they lost steam against Carlsbad, losing 17-13, and missed their chance at the World Series.

• Shetland

For the third consecutive season, a LJYB Shetland team advanced to the Super Region in West Covina. As we learned in prior tourneys, the quality of play at this level is incredible and some tough competition took our boys out: Northside (20-10) and Orangecrest (20-4).

The experience of playing in a Shetland Super Region tournament will be an experience they will never forget. Congratulations to Coaches Mac Armstrong and Bob Uslander for their outstanding leadership and commitment to these boys.

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