By Tom Murphy
La Jolla Youth BaseballLa Jolla Youth Baseball strongly supports post-season play and sent 15 teams to the Memorial Day Tournament as proof.
The annual tournament was hosted by Tecolote Youth Baseball and includes tournament teams from around the region. It is a good tune-up for kids that will play in the official PONY All Star tournament, with Sectional games starting as early as June 20th. “Why send so many teams to the Memorial Day tourney” is a valid question and “Does it dilute the significance of All Stars?” is typically the next question.
LJYB’s leadership made a conscious decision a few years ago to encourage as many players as possible to experience tournament play as another way to develop more advanced skills and sharpen their mental game by playing at the next level against other tournament teams outside the league and at different venues. Everyone improves their game and the tournament format is exciting. All Star managers have to juggle line-ups when families go on vacation so having an active bench of players is key when playing deeper into the Regional and Zone tournaments. Last year the Bronco 11s were only three games away from the PONY World
Series and barely fielded 9 players and 1 coach for a couple of games up in Los Angeles, so depth matters.
The San Diego Pony Inteleague teams scheduled their playoffs during the Memorial Tournament so more teams and players could participate and enjoy the festivities at Tecolote. Among the nine playoff teams, RBC was seeded No. 3 and — lo and behold — they came in 3rd Place. The top two teams all season were the Tecolote-Toreros and Tecolote-Aztecs and they finished 1st and 2nd in a close championship game ending up with a walk-off triple to break a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the 7th.
On their way to the semifinals, RBC snuck by LJYB’s SDG 10-9 before dropping a game to the Aztecs 5-3. Rotary Club of La Jolla found their way into the losers bracket after dropping their opening game to the Aztecs, then made quick work against North City in a 13-3 game that was shortened by the mercy rule. Rotary and SDG faced each other in an elimination game that went down to the wire with SDG advancing 9-8. SDG was eliminated in the next round in a heartbreaking finish. Backed by solid pitching by Trenton Fudge, Michael Marshall and Kevin Boormeester, they were tied 4-4 against the Tecolote-Rams in the bottom of the 7th inning with two outs and a runner on third base. The Rams batter struck out swinging but the ball got away from the catcher, who had to throw to first base to complete the out.
Unfortunately the throw hit the runner in the shoulder, he is safe at first and the runner on third steals home to end the game and the season for SDG. Carter Chopskie contributed to one of RBC’s victories with a grand slam. RBC’s season ended in a tough 3-2 loss to the Aztecs, thanks in part to a blown call by the umpire who failed to call a balk on a pitcher who — throwing from the wind-up — stops his delivery to chase the runner coming from third in a squeeze bunt called by Coach Agbulos. You can’t make up this stuff!
In the Bronco tournament, La Jolla’s Red team beat North City Mix 12-0 in four innings with strong pitching from Sterling Hayes and Carson Greene. They dropped their next game in pool play to Chula Vista South, forcing a rematch in the Gold semi-finals which La Jolla lost 3-2 and — believe it or not — the umpire missed an obvious balk that would have scored the La Jolla runner from 3rd base to tie the game.
The Bronco 11s dropped their opening game in pool play to North City 12s and came roaring back in the next game to beat Tecolote Blue 14-2. They did not advance to the medal game in the Silver division. LJYB’s Blue team was down 6-1 against Tecolote Blue and put up 6 runs in the 4th inning thanks in part to a bases-clearing bunt ‘triple’ by Bobby Murphy that tied the game (a throwing error may have helped their cause.) After the 10-9 victory, they faced a couple of dominant teams and went down swinging against North City Mix.
In the Mustang division, La Jolla Red won both games in pool play, beating North City 9s 11-5 and North City Mix 8-0. They dropped their semi-final game to North City Red. The La Jolla 9s had a rough draw in pool play, losing a close 6-5 game to North City 9s before getting beat by Chula Vista South and North City Mix. The Mustang Blue team probably had the best time of anyone. Coach Tim Scott got his squad to shake off their opening loss to Tecolote Red with a rousing 14-2 win against Presidio LL, which ended after five innings by “mercy” rule. They battled Tecolote Blue in the playoff game, who took advantage of a big inning to hold off the La Jolla boys.
All season long, Pinto has been the Fun Zone of LJYB. At Tecolote, La Jolla Red ran the table in pool play going 4-0 including a Sunday doubleheader sweep over North City Red and Tecolote Red. The second game of the twin bill was a 10-9 come-from-behind victory over the highly regarded Red team from Tecolote. The La Jolla “Red Stripers” were led by the booming bats of Jack Boynton and Nathan Latimer, the stealth base running of Connor Hobbs and Spence Carswell and the flawless fielding of Tony Ide and Christian Nava. Unfortunately Tec Red got their revenge in the championship game on Monday, taking it to La Jolla 17-5. Coach
Jim Duffy said the boys played great and looks forward to facing them again in the PONY tournament. Brian LaGrange managed the La Jolla Blue team and they tied Mission Bay Little League and lost to Tecolote Red in Pool play. In the playoffs, they pulled off a nice win over North City Blue before being eliminated by Tecolote 7s in the Silver semifinals. The La Jolla White team enjoyed a tune-up at the Chelsea King tournament the weekend before Memorial Day where they had a 1-1 record. At Tecolote, they had to play three games on Saturday but came up short against North City Red, Tecolote Blue and Tecolote White. Their last game went down to the wire tied 11-11 in the bottom of the 6th with defensive gems being turned in by Flynn Dartland and Austin Peterson, but a bang-bang play at the plate was called safe for a Tecolote win.
For the second year in a row, two La Jolla Shetland teams made it to the Championship game. The Blue team lost their playoff game in extra innings, barely missing an appearance in the semi-finals. La Jolla’s Red and White teams battled it out for the Championship trophy which was awarded to Coach Chris Circuit’s Red team with the final score of 16-9. It is encouraging to see such talent coming up the ranks into the Pinto and Mustang divisions.
LJYB will be hosting portions of the PONY Section tournament beginning on June 20. Both the Pony-13s and Pony-14s will be played at Cliffridge Park, along with the Bronco-11s team. It is an honor to host the PONY tournament and LJYB looks forward to being a good host to all the players, coaches,
families and PONY officials that participate
on our fields.