By Tom Murphy
La Jolla Youth BaseballLa Jolla Youth Baseball tried something new as they wrapped up their season and scheduled all of the championship games on one day – “Championship Saturday.” For Pinto, Mustang and Bronco divisions, playoff schedules were pretty tight and with Mustang playing a double-elimination format, kids were playing every night as if they were clawing back from the loser’s bracket.
With 12 teams in Pinto, their semi-final games were played on the same day so the build-up was exciting. All in all there were very tight and competitive games that went down to the wire with comebacks at every turn. Shetland does not have playoffs and will move forward with three Tournament Teams entered in the Memorial Day Tournament at Tecolote. Pony Interleague teams decided to schedule their double-elimination playoffs as part of the Memorial Day tourney, so they are just starting their first games this week.
The Mustang division drew the first game on a beautiful, sunny morning with Cinderella-story Garage Door Medics squared off against offensive powerhouse Morgan Stanley, who outscored the rest of the league by 35 runs during the season. The worst-to-first Medics were riding a 3-0 winning streak through the playoffs while Morgan Stanley was clawing back through the losers bracket with consecutive come-from-behind thrillers against Pharmatek and Mitch’s Surf Shop.
Needing to beat the Medics twice for the championship trophy, Morgan Stanley jumped out to a 7-1 lead after only two innings and things looked promising for them going into the bottom of the 6th inning with a three-run lead. With the bottom of the order coming up, GDM’s “find a way” rally cry came through yet again as they tied the game.
With two outs and Diego Solis only 60-feet away on third base for the win, Devin Brown drove one up the middle to win the game 12-11 and secure the championship trophy for Garage Door Medics.
Congratulations to Manager Brian Kelly and his coaching crew Bo Solis and Dave Hammel, who kept things light and fun throughout the season, and it paid off in the end.
The pinstripe boys of Aladdin Bail Bonds were the odds-on favorite to claim the Bronco title. At the end of the regular season they outscored their closest rival by 35 runs in only nine games. Led by LJYB’s Home Run King Garret Brown, Sterling Hayes, and Nate Smolinski, they faced the well-oiled machine of Harry’s Coffee Shop. Unlike many of their high scoring blow-outs, the Bronco championship game came down to solid pitching and great defense. With a 2-1 lead, Brown hit a 2-run blast into the parking lot to take a 4-1 lead which was more than enough to secure the win.
Harry’s scored one more run to make it a 4-2 game with Sterling Hayes shutting down the top of Harry’s line-up 1-2-3. Congratulations to Kris Smolinski and his team for going wire-to-wire in the Bronco division. The trophy presentation was a terrific display of good sportsmanship as all the kids congratulated each other and posed for fun group photos.
The Pinto ChampionshipThe Pinto Championship was set for 3 p.m. but the fun started at their first semi-final game in the morning. PacVentures scored 11 runs in the last two innings to erase a huge deficit and then shut down Solis Chiropractic in the bottom of the 6th as the No. 7 seed continued their improbable run as giant killers. In the other semi-final game, Capital Growth Properties, led by Coach Chris Hobbs, scored a huge upset over No. 1 seed Patterson Bike 17-15 with Connor Hobbs leading the Blue Bomber’s offensive charge over a typically stingy Blue Fire defense, ending Emmet Holden’s five-year reign as Pinto’s savant manager. The final game pitted No. 4 seed Capital Growth Properties against No. 7 PacVentures in a see-saw affair with CGP scoring 10 runs in the first two innings and only one out recorded. The Blasters from PacVentures kept chipping away at the lead until they went ahead late in the game. Jack Boynton, who suffered a bloody blow from a thrown ball to the face during warm-ups, was able to tough it out and with teammates Nicky Reynolds, Jordan Stahl and Olen Dobak, were able to stifle the Bombers high powered offense in a 23-17 donnybrook. For the second year in a row the No. 7 seed ran the table to the Pinto title, which shows how much parity there in this league. Coach Dobak was seen still smiling the following day as he strutted the concourse at the Junior Olympics.
Over on the Pony field, LJYB celebrated a graduation of sorts. LJYB’s most respected manager Roy Agbulos and “LP for Life” Paul Delmore both coached their last regular season game on the Cliffridge fields and it was fitting that their teams played each other. Their incredible ten years of leadership in the league was recognized on the Bronco field when they threw out the 1st Pitch at the Championship game, and their teams had a surprise celebration with special gifts and a BBQ following the SDG-RBC game. By the time the last charcoal briquette was extinguished on a glorious day at the Cliffridge Park fields, it was pretty clear that LJYB’s 60th season of baseball was perhaps its finest. The rec season wrapped up with the community of families coming together to celebrate their teams and root for their friends as can only happen in youth baseball. It is truly a family affair at LJYB.
Stay tuned for post-season play with 15 teams from LJYB playing in the annual Memorial Day Tournament hosted by Tecolote Youth Baseball.