By Tom Murphy
La Jolla Youth BaseballThe PONY Section All-Star Tournament begins this week and La Jolla Youth Baseball has 11 teams entered and playing all over San Diego County.
This tournament is often referred to as the Fourth of July Tourney with the section pairings squaring off as early as today and playing through July 4. From there, teams advance to Regional, Super Region, Zone and eventually the PONY World Series.
This year LJYB will host the Pony, Pony-13 and Bronco-11 tournaments at our Cliffridge Park fields, which is great for the league and the La Jolla teams in particular who get to play at home. Roy Agbulos is managing the Pony All-Stars and they play their first game next Wednesday, June 27 at 4:30 p.m. between the winner of the Paradise Hill and Tecolote.
The Pony-13 team, managed by John McColl, drew a bye in the first round and plays the winner of Tecolote and Vista Friday at 4:30 p.m. All PONY tournaments are double-elimination.
Kris Smolinski is coaching the Bronco-11 team and they play Thursday at 4:30 p.m. against Tecolote at Cliffridge Park. Hopefully the home field advantage provides an edge in this long-standing rivalry. A number of players on this team are also entered in a travel ball tournament in Florida that conflicts with the PONY tournament, so they face some roster challenges should they advance.
The Bronco Red team drew a bye into the second round and face Ramona tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Max Field in Chula Vista. Dave Hammel is managing this team and most of these players were on his team last year as they went deep into the Zone tournament, finishing up a few games shy of the World Series. Hopefully their pitching holds up and they will make another run at glory.
LJYB has three teams entered from the Mustang division. Brian Kelly leads the Mustang Red team and they play in Ramona on Sunday against the winner between Emerald and Tecolote Blue. Most of this squad are also on the Flash BBC travel team and play very well together. Wayne Young took over the Mustang Blue team and they face Chula Vista South on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Ramona. They have added some talent to the roster that should help them when they face some tough Red teams. Geoff Longenecker is coaching the Mustang-9s who play North City at Hickman Field in their opening game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.. This matchup has become a bona fide rivalry and hopefully the PONY officials will pay more attention to the details this year.
Pinto also formed three teams for the PONY tournament and the Pinto Red team is coached by Jim Duffy. This team was a finalist in the Memorial Day tourney and they drew Mira Mesa A in the first round on Saturday at noon in Ramona. Greg MacLean stepped in to manager the Pinto Blue team and they drew a bye into the second round and play the winner of La Jolla Red and Mira Mesa A. It’s unfortunate that two LJYB teams may have to play each other, but it beats the scenario of the Red team losing their opening game and dropping into the losers’ bracket. The Pinto-7 team consists of many of the players who went to the Shetland World Series last summer, so these boys are grizzled vets when it comes to tournament play. Hopefully Manager Michael Solis will continue his post-season run with this crew when they open the tournament at 11 a.m. on Sunday against the winner of Fallbrook and La Costa North in San Marcos.
La Jolla seems to be a breeding ground for Shetland talent and this year is no exception with LJYB teams placing 1-2-3 in the recent Memorial Day Tournament. Coaches Walter Birnbaum and Greg Hansen have folded three solid teams into a single Shetland All-Star team and they may have the best chance of advancing the furthest of all La Jolla teams.
Fun Fact:LJYB’s Carson Greene may qualify for the Guinness Book of World Records. According to the June 4 application filed by Bronco Managers Mike Wintringer and Brian Moses, in a game between On The Inside Design and Mission Imprintables on May 11th, Greene made three successive outs, against three different batters, while playing three different positions — in the same inning. The mathematical odds of this happening are astounding! A search of the venerable Baseball Almanac and the Guinness Book of World Records prove inconclusive that such a feat has been previously recorded. LJYB eagerly awaits their reply.