We invite you to join the family of Long Beach Pony Baseball at Whaley Park and become part of a southland tradition recognized like no other throughout the nation! Join a place where the bond between players, families and coaches has lasted for generations.
WHY CHOOSE PONY BASEBALL OVER OTHER PROGRAMS AT THIS AGE?
Our league is for players with a desire to keep playing competitive baseball after they turn 12 years-old and have finished playing in the Little League Major division, Cal Ripken Major division, Pony Bronco division, or other similar division up to 12 years of age.
PONY baseball was formed over 70 years ago to fill the gap between Little League and High School baseball. It has been the primary recreation program for 13-14 year-olds during that entire span. There has been some competition in this age group for the past few years, but none of them have developed an approach that can compare with the PONY experience.
Here are just a few of the ways that PONY Baseball stands out:
Valid Age Appropriate Field Dimensions - The Pony division (13-14) plays on a diamond with a 54' pitching rubber and 80' bases. This is an increase of 4' on the mound and 10' further to each base. The increase is just enough to challenge the younger players and to develop proper techniques for plays at the new distances.
Comparison: Both Cal-Ripken Senior division (13-15) and Little League Senior division (13-16) play on full-size MLB fields with 60' 6" mound distance and 90' bases. The increase of 10.5 feet on the mound and 20 feet on the bases is significant, and represents a meaningful difference to the quality of play, especially to a 13 year-old just coming up having to adjust to the new field dimensions. (Infield throws don't consistently reach first base on a fly, many pitchers have to throw on an arc to get the pitches to the plate, and pick-offs and stolen base execution suffers as well.)
2 Year Age Span Division - Pony focuses on keeping similar age kids playing against each other, and have set their divisions up by age groups. The PONY division is for players age 13-14, similar to the BRONCO division for ages 11-12, etc. The field dimensions incrementally grow at each division level, maintaining a consistent, highly competitive environment in all divisions.
Comparison: Both Cal-Ripken Senior division (13-15) and Little League Senior division (13-16) have much older players (15 and 16 year-olds) playing against young players whose bodies are not ready for the full size field. As a result, the games are dominated by older players, and the timing learned on the bigger field does not prepare players to be ready for the increased speed and pace of the game at the HS level.
Comprehensive International All-Star Competition at the 14U level - PONY Baseball conducts one of the premier youth International World Series tournaments every year in Washington, PA. Tens of thousands of 14U teams compete at the local, region, state, zone, and international level to reach the 10 team tournament. Competition is strong and fierce throughout the various levels, and Long Beach Pony has been able to reach the World Series 5 times since 2006. Pony also has an exciting 13U All-star World Series tournament in which we participate.
Comparison: Based on the field sizes more than anything else, the competition at critical levels is often less than the expected in terms of quality and execution for this level of play.
Your child will play on an iconic field, where many young athletes have cultivated their skills before making their way to the Major Leagues. And, you will have the chance to represent the league in All-Star tournament play where we have been a dominant presence over the past 12 years - with 5 trips to the PONY World Series - including this past season!
Long Beach Pony believes that Competition hones players skills and personality, nurtures community, produces effective discipline, and brings about Person Development that results in respect for team mates, opponents, officials, and themselves.
We will try and highlight various accomplishments by our baseball players, on and off the field. If you have a story that we should share, please send it in to us.
(Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org)
2018 PONY 14's ALL-STARS
Ken Jakemer (Dodgers)
Matt Heavin (Marlins)
Dan Leavitt (Athletics)
John Haberland (Dodgers)
Darrel Icenogle (Braves)
Ryan Burack (Marlins)
Adam Cramer (Marlins)
Sam DeCarlo (White Sox)
Jack Dhein (Braves)
Jake Ehmann (White Sox)
Ryan Geck (Dodgers)
Jackson Haberland (Dodgers)
Jesse Kolodny (Marlins)
Myles Patton (Dodgers)
Charlie Royle (Athletics)
Israel Santillan (Braves)
Ryan Skjonsby (Athletics)
Robert Voss (White Sox)
Brendan Wilkinson (Marlins)
PONY INTERNATIONAL WORLD SERIES (AUGUST 9-15) @ LEW HAYS FIELD, WASHINGTON, PA
Sunday - 8/12
Long Beach, CA (8)
Bronx, NY (0)
Tuesday - 8/14
Long Beach (8)
Tijuana, MX (2)
Tuesday - 8/14
Long Beach (6)
Brownsville, TX (5)
Wednesday - 8/15 WORLD SERIES Championship RUNNER-UP
Long Beach, CA, USA (1)
Chinese Taipei (3)
2018 PONY 13U ALL-STARS
Rick Moody (Astros)
Greg Moody (Astros)
Matt Simon (Astros)
Matthew De Santiago (Dodgers)
Will Diaz (Marlins)
Ethan Emami (Athletics)
Ellis Gleed (Marlins)
Eli Kasiski (Athletics)
JT Kraemer (Athletics)
Sebastian Lebario (Dodgers)
Michael Moku (Marlins)
Brett Moody (Astros)
Wyatt Ormonde (Astros)
Jace Orozco (White Sox)
Isaac Salazar (Dodgers)
Jae Simon (Astros)
Trevor Sonnhalter (Braves)
Christopher Uchio (Braves)
PONY 13U SUPER-REGION TOURNAMENT (JULY 13-19, 2017) @ YORK FIELD - WHITTIER
Long Beach (15)
Chula Vista North (2)
Long Beach (4)
Long Beach (3)
Long Beach (5)
Wednesday, 7/19 Super-Region Championship
Long Beach (5)
POnY 13U WEST ZONE TOURNAMENT (july 20-23, 2013) @ YORK FIELD - WHITTIER
Thursday - 7/20
Long Beach (4)
Bel Passi, CA (9)
Friday - 7/21
Long Beach (11)
Saturday - 7/22
Long Beach (3)
Campbell, CA (2)
Saturday - 7/22
Long Beach (3)
Bel Passi, CA (7)
2016 PONY 14's ALL-STARS
Tommy Peale (White Sox)
Matt Casem (Athletics)
Jacob Fong (Athletics)
Dylan Gambino (Braves)
Jack Guerrero (Braves)
Ben Kessler (Athletics)
Jaxon Kraemer (Athletics)
Zach Morgan (White Sox)
John Newman (White Sox)
Jack Odell (Astros)
Nolan Ornelas (Athletics)
Ryan Pettway (White Sox)
Alex Seguine (Dodgers)
Jesse Simon (Marlins)
Troy Spencer (Marlins)
Christopher Vital (Marlins)
Carter White (Dodgers)
C.J. Yogi (Braves)
PONY WEST ZONE TOURNAMENT (JULY 30- AUGUST 2, 2015) @ LOS ALAMITOS, CA
Thursday - 7/30
Long Beach (1)
Santa Cruz, CA (15)
Friday - 7/31
Long Beach (26)
Orem, UT (0)
Saturday - 8/1
Long Beach (5)
Los Alamitos (2)
Saturday - 8/2
Long Beach (3)
Santa Cruz, CA (1)
Sunday - 8/3
Long Beach (1)
Santa Cruz, CA (7)
2015 PONY 13U ALL-STARS
Matt Casem (Athletics)
Davis Towne (Athletics)
Noah Carter (Braves)
Solomon Casarez (Braves)
Sergio Cazares (Athletics)
Jacob Fong (Athletics)
Robert Guerrero (Braves)
Jaxon Kraemer (Athletics)
Zachary Morgan (White Sox)
Hanson Newman (Athletics)
Jack Odell (Astros)
Ryan Pettway (White Sox)
Alex Seguine (Dodgers)
Jesse Simon (Marlins)
Troy Spencer (Marlins)
Christopher Vital (Marlins)
Carter White (Dodgers)
Jordan Ybarra (Marlins)
Ken Jakemer (Dodgers)
Tom Nasuti (Marlins)
CJ Baker (Dodgers)
Griff Baker (Marlins)
Owen Beebe (Dodgers)
Tyus Chapple (Marlins)
Bryden Englert (Athletics)
Cole Fleming (Astros)
Eric Hughes (Athletics)
Mike Mauai (Marlins)
Charlie Nasuti (Marlins)
Jacob Perez (Astros)
Cole Pool (Astros)
Ely Stuart (Astros)
Micah Wallette (Reds)
Jackson Wilfong (Marlins)
Max Williford (Angels)
Kirk Salaya (Astros)
Rick Dent (Astros)
Jim Burke (Astros)
EJ Andrews (Reds)
Nate Beat (Astros)
David Blechinger (Astros)
Dallas Burke (Astros)
Kyle Clothier (Dodgers)
Manny Garay (Astros)
Ben Garza (Angels)
Ryan Guerero (Dodgers)
Sonny Kooner (Astros)
Alex Lomeli (Marlins)
Josh Miller (Dodgers)
Jacob Mohr (Angels)
Nick Mores (Reds)
Cole Sullivan (Marlins)
Crixtian Taveras (Marlins)
LONG BEACH PONY 13U INVITATIONAL (6/27-29, 2014) @ WHALEY PARK, LONG BEACH
Jordan Ybarra (Rays)
Ken Jakemer (Dodgers)
Tommy Peale (Angels)
Jacob Allen (Athletics)
Trevor Barlow (Rays)
Jacob Berumen (Rays)
Miller Davis (Reds)
Diego Frausto (Athletics)
Josh Freligh (Dodgers)
Michael Hall (Angels)
Lorenzo Haycox (Rays)
Bryce Hed (Angels)
Johnny Hernandez (Angels)
Ben Landworth (Athletics)
Tanner Meckes (Astros)
Zach Pettway (Angels)
Zach Rivas (Angels)
David Tillman (Athletics)
Game 1 : July 19 - Long Beach 3 , Lynwood 0
Game 2 : July 21 - Long Beach 0 , Heartwell 5
Game 3 : July 21 - Long Beach 5, Paramount 4
Game 4 : July 22 - Long Beach 19, Cheviot Hills 3
Game 5 : July 22 - Long Beach 3, Los Alamitos 1 (Long Beach Advances as Section Runner-Up)
Game 1 : July 24 - Long Beach 11, Victoria 1
Game 2 : July 27 - Long Beach 8, Ramona 1
Game 3 : July 28 - Long Beach 8, West Hills 3
Game 4 : July 29 - Long Beach 3, Chula Vista North 2 Game 5 : July 30 - Long Beach 2, Victoria 3 Game 6 : July 30 - Long Beach 4, Victoria 1
(Long Beach Wins 'Super' Region Championship)
Game 1: 8/3 - Long Beach 12, Santa Cruz, CA 3
Game 2: 8/4 - Long Beach 4, Kauai, HA 1
Game 3: 8/5 - Long Beach 4, Campbell, CA 3
Game 4: 8/7 - Long Beach 3, Campbell, CA 2 (Long Beach Wins West Zone Championship)
PONY World Series @ Washington, PA
Lew Hayes Field, Washington, PA
[CLICK FOR BRACKET]
Game 1: 8/11 - Long Beach 13, Guasave, Mexico 0
Game 2: 8/12 -Long Beach 2, Laredo, TX 1
Game 3: 8/14 - Long Beach 7, Paderborn, Germany 0
Game 4: 8/16 - Long Beach 13, Laredo, TX 4 Game 5: 8/18 - Long Beach 9, Chinese-Taipei7
(Long Beach Wins World Series Championship)
LBP 14U (8-11) LONG BEACH 13, MEXICO 0 (5 inn) @ World Series in Washington, PA - We started Saturday at the field with the Champions game for special needs kids, and it was a very rewarding time for all. The boys showed real heart and had a blast with the participants...who were thrilled to have all the PONY boys rooting them on. Amazing to see the smiles on their faces even with all the challenges they have. We also got to interact with the other teams quite a bit; our boys amazed that the German team could all speak English, taking photos with the other teams and talking quite a bit with the East Zone champs from New Bedford, MA who seemed like a great group of kids.
After lunch back at the hotel, we went to our assigned practice field, which was smaller than a Little League field, had some flat ground past the fence about equal to a Pony field and then dropped off to a ravine in left and heavily wooded area in center and right. It made for an interesting batting practice with many balls flying into the woods and several going into the ravine...our shaggers repeatedly told not to go back on the ball!
Almost 48 hours after arriving in Pittsburgh, we were finally ready to start our first game, against Mexico. For the first time in about 10 games, we were the home team and Jay Rohman got us off to a good start with a dominant 1-2-3 inning in 7 pitches including 1 strikeout.
Possibly showing some nerves, the Mexican pitcher walked Will Semonsen to start the game and then hit Spencer Steer to put 2 on. Jacob Hughey then hit a hard grounder down the line past the first baseman for a 2 run single. Maxx Cauble forced Hughey and later scored from second on a Griffin Keller single for a 3-0 1st inning lead.
Jay Rohman hit the first pitch he saw leading off the second for a mammoth home run down the left field line that must have traveled 350 ft and was as high as any ball I've seen hit. He also continued to be perfect on the mound through 3 innings.
In the 3rd, Hughey hit one out in right center to put LB up 5-0. Jack Williford doubled and Keller had another single to drive in his second run of the game to make it 6-0.
Mexico finally got to Rohman in the 4th with a walk and a double to put runners at 2nd & 3rd with one out, but Steer ended that threat with an unassisted double play, fielding a hard smash down third and tagging the surprised runner caught off the base and then throwing to first to nail the batter. He also made another major league play in the 5th with a great back handed grab and throw across the diamond to first with runners at 2nd & 3rd to again preserve the shutout.
Semonsen lead off the 4th with a single and Steer doubled him home, followed by a Cauble 2 run homer to make it 9-0. The 5th started with a Rohman single, a walk to Austin Logan and then a single by Semonsen that could have ended the game but coach Scot held Jay at third to load the bases. After a force out at home, Hughey ended the game in style, with a grand slam blast to deep center to give him 2 homers and 7 RBI for the game and a 13-0 LB win.
So a great start to the Series for the LB boys, showcasing our shutdown pitching, power hitting and strong defense. On Sunday we will be playing Laredo TX, the defending World Champs, at 3:00 pm EST. -- Kirk SalayaLBP 14U (8-12) LONG BEACH 2, LAREDO TX 1 @ World Series in Washington, PA. - Well, after a rare easy win against Mexico on Saturday, the Cardiac Kids returned to face the defending World Champs from Laredo TX and squeaked out a narrow win against an excellent team. We told the boys this game might be the toughest of the tournament for us and they responded with a great game and needed all of it as Laredo played an excellent game as well.
We were visitors and did not score in our half of the first. We had our "Horse", Jack Williford, pitching today and he got an easy 1st 2 outs only to have a soft liner to short left fall in for a double. The next hitter then singled and stole second to put runners at 2nd and 3rd, where they were stranded with an important out.
LB scored the 1st run of the game in the 2nd as Williford was hit by a pitch and went to 2nd on a wild pitch. Eddie Cervantes came through as he has so many times when we need him, driving a line single to center to score Jack and put the Beach up 1-0. But we wasted a chance to add more when we left the bases loaded. Williford then had a 1-2-3 inning with 2 strikeouts to keep the momentum on our side.
Maxx Cauble added another run in the 3rd with a solo blast to right center for his second homer of the Series and what ended up to be the winning run. LB was hitting some other balls hard but right at fielders, so even though we felt in control of the game, we couldn't push it past 2-0 and left several runners on the bases in the early innings.
Their pitcher started to settle down and get his breaking ball over for strikes, resulting in a 1-2-3 4th inning for our offense. Laredo led off the bottom of the 4th with a double and subsequent steal of third, that looked like we had the runner but the umpire called him safe and the momentum seemed to be swinging over to Laredo. They got that runner home on a very close play at the plate as their hitter grounded to short, Will Semonsen fielding it cleanly, looking the runner back at third and firing to first for the out. Jacob Hughey spun and fired home as the runner broke for the plate on the throw to first, but again the runner was ruled safe on the slide and tag and we had a slim 2-1 lead with a lot of ballgame left.
The Beach offense suffered through two more 1-2-3 innings in the 5th and 6th, so even with the lead, it did not feel like the game was going our way. Laredo had 1 out hits in both the 5th & 6th to threaten as Williford looked a bit shaky, getting his pitches up. Semonsen made an unassisted double play to end the 5th and Jack managed to strand a runner at second in the 6th. So even though he came close to getting a hook in the 5th, he was now asking to stay in the game for the 7th and looked good enough that he was allowed to stay in.
LB was looking to add some insurance runs in the 7th as Riley Dent and Semonsen both singled to give us runners and speed at 1st and 2nd with no outs, but the promising rally fizzled quickly after a pop up and double play to end the inning. So LB would go to the bottom of the 7th looking to get 3 outs and protect the 2-1 lead.
Sensing he was 3 outs away from a complete game victory, Williford came out firing, getting the first 2 batters to hit come backers that he fielded and threw to Hughey for the outs. Laredo sent up a powerful looking pinch hitter with their final chance and with the short dimensions down the lines, one mistake could cost the game or in this case,at least tie it. The night before, Chinese Taipei had lost a game in the bottom of the 7th when a player from Puerto Rico hit a 2 run homer to win the game 2-1. Williford made sure that did not happen to us, getting his 8th strikeout to end the game and notch a complete game victory. The win was his 5th of PONY tournament play and his 4th complete game (as well as another game he went 7 and we won in 9 innings) proving that he has earned his nickname of "The Horse".
The Beach showed how well balanced we are with the close win; one day after our power hitting display, we won with pitching and defense. Many in attendance were impressed that LB was able to throw two straight starters of such high quality in Rohman and Williford....we simply said "wait until you see our next one" with the plan to give the ball to Will Semonsen against Germany on Tuesday night, 8-14 at 8:00 pm.
-- Kirk SalayaLBP 14U (8-14) NON-GAME UPDATES FROM the World Series @ Washington PA - Just catching up with a few tidbits from our trip, as we have been doing more than traveling and playing games. As previously mentioned, the Champions game on Saturday for the special needs kids was just awesome...I got choked up today just telling someone about it. One of the other highlights of that was the appearance of former major leaguer Lenny Randle, who is now bench coach for the local minor league Washington Wild Things. Lenny was very outgoing and hysterical....when he saw us he yelled "Long Beach?!! I'm from Long Beach!" and proceeded to make the boys laugh for about the next 10 minutes. He asked if we were from the hood and if anyone was on parole. Will Semonsen said he was, so Lenny gave him a Swag Daddy t-shirt. Very funny. Lenny also invited us to their game that night and gave us half off coupons, which we took advantage of. They play at a beautiful new $4 million complex right next to Pony headquarters and the boys enjoyed relaxing at the game. Lenny even came up into the stands between innings to say hi and chat and then again as we were leaving.
Monday night we enjoyed our day off by attending the Dodger vs Pirates game at PNC Park, a real gem located right on the river in downtown Pittsburgh. We sat as a group with quite a few of our traveling family members (numbering about 35....great family support!) for a group of over 50 in an area called Pirate Cove....otherwise known as the far upper corner of the right field stands. Actually had some great views up there, as we could see the game perfectly well and also had views of the river, bridges and downtown skyline all lit up at night. It was a perfect night out and the Dodgers even complied by holding on for the win. Most of the boys picked up Pirates gear from the street vendors as we walked back across the bridge to our vans.
Tuesday brought showers on and off for a good part of the day, and ended up affecting the two night games scheduled. The Laredo vs Mexico game was pushed back by 90 minutes and Laredo won that game easily 8-0. Our game against Germany was cancelled and because they are leaving tomorrow, that game will not be rescheduled (LB would have won anyway). So that sets up a rematch for us against Laredo in the bracket championship game on Thursday at 8:00 EST. One win for LB puts us in the Championship Final, while Laredo would need to beat us twice to reach that game.
-- Kirk SalayaLBP 14U (8-15) NON-GAME UPDATES FROM the World Series @ Washington PA - With a day off on Wednesday, we did our usual sleeping in and then rousted the boys for a planned 10:30 practice that ended up being more like 11:30...players and coaches not moving too quickly in the mornings. We are keeping rock star hours here with late nights and then sleeping until 11; not sure how the coaches are going to get back on actual work schedules (if we can even remember what we do for a living). Today marks two solid weeks we have been on the road away from home...and together 24/7. Luckily this group gets along quite well and we all still like each other (no small feat).
The boys quickly got going when it was time to hit as they love to show off their power in batting practice. We had a good workout, punctuated by Coach Rick Dent deciding to jump into one of the sprints at the end of practice to show the boys how it is done....he was leading and kicking it into gear when he felt a grab in his hamstring and had to pull up....last time he'll do that. He spent most of the next two hours icing it.
We went over to the local public pool, a huge facility walking distance from the field where the families met us for lunch and swimming. The group enjoyed the pool so much we stayed all afternoon, with boys alternating between the two diving boards and the water slide, while spending quite a bit of time chatting up the cute young lifeguard. The boys then walked over to the field for the 5:30 game between Chinese Taipei and Puerto Rico, coaches driving the vans over. The Chinese made quick work of them for a 11-0 win and set up a rematch for Friday.
With an 8pm game Thursday, we again slept in till 11:00 and managed to pull it together to go have breakfast at Waffle House, which Trevor Steer had been begging for all week. I ordered strawberry waffles into which they put what looked like little food coloring nuggets that qualified as the strawberry part....scary.....and quite a difference from Watsonville, which is the strawberry capital. Sorry Trevor, no more Waffle House this trip. We crashed out at the hotel waiting for our late game time. -- Kirk SalayaLBP 14U (8-16) LONG BEACH 13, Laredo 4 @ World Series in Washington, PA - Time for our rematch against Laredo, whose rooms at the hotel are right next to us....while the boys have been friendly, I think both teams recognized early this would be our best competition, so they have been keeping their distance. The coaching staffs have talked quite a bit and while they have been a bit cocky, we have laid low and plan on letting our team do the talking.
With the game cancelled vs Germany and plenty of days off, we elected to go back to Jay Rohman for the start. He walked one in the first and after 2 stolen bases, the runner scored on an uncharacteristic LB error, putting us in a 1-0 hole. Laredo elected to go with their starter from the 1st game against us, a hard throwing righty and having seen him once, we were ready. Will Semonsen worked the count and looped a 2 strike single into left. Spencer Steer followed with a smash that sent the right fielder back to the warning track and he speared it above his head for the out. After Will stole second, Jacob Hughey drove him in with a single to left center gap and the score was tied. Maxx Cauble walked and he and Jacob pulled off a double steal to put runners at 2nd and 3rd. An obviously rattled Laredo pitcher then proceeded to throw a wild pitch to score Hughey and a passed ball on the catcher scored Cauble for a 3-1 lead at the end of 1.
While Rohman settled in and threw consecutive 1-2-3 innings in the second and third with 3 strikeouts, the Beach kept the pressure on in the 2nd inning. Rohman singled to lead off and took second on a wild pitch. Riley Dent attempted a sacrifice but Rohman was thrown out at third. Semonsen walked and with 2 on, Steer hammered a ground single up the middle to score Dent. Hughey lined a shot right at the third baseman for the 2nd out, but he threw the ball away on the attempt at a double play, Semonsen scoring to make it 5-1. Cauble then waited on a curveball and absolutely destroyed one into the night high over the left field fence and the trees beyond for a 2 run homer (his 3rd of the Series) and a 7-1 LB lead.
In the 4th, Laredo's best hitter broke up Rohman's no hitter as he hammered a hanging splitter over the right field fence. Jay went on to strike out 2 in the inning though and we were still in control.
In the 5th inning Laredo scored on some walks, hits and an error to tighten the game up to 7-4 and possibly swinging the momentum their way. Rohman was suddenly struggling to throw strikes but managed to get their home run hitter to ground out to end the inning in what proved to be a huge out with runners on.
In the home half of the fifth, Coach Rick "dropped shop" with his signature rap to fire up the boys and we put the game away. Monty Petersen led off with a walk and Eddie Cervantes singled him to second. Jay Rohman punched a single to right to score Monty and Tanner Meckes came in to run for him. Riley Dent then hit a huge 2 run double down the left field line to make it 10-4. Semonsen singled him in for an 11-4 lead and then Spencer Steer hit one out in right center for a 2 run homer (the 7th for LB in the Series) to push the lead to 13-4. All of this came before we made an out in the inning, but we were not able to push another across to get the mercy win.
Semonsen came on to pitch the final two innings for the Beach and he made short work of the Laredo batters, never giving them another look at the game, getting his 6 outs on only 18 pitches while striking out 3 with an impressive fastball and nasty curve.
A huge win for LB, making us US Champs and crushing a very good team along the way. We are set to play in the Championship Finals on Saturday at 1:00 against the winner of the Taipei vs Puerto Rico game. -- Kirk SalayaLBP 14U (8-17) NON-GAME UPDATES from the World Series Washington, PA. - Once again we slept in, barely getting everyone up and out of the hotel to meet the families at an Italian restaurant for lunch (breakfast for us). A very nice time and plenty of food for all and then we went over to the PONY headquarters just down the street to look at their small museum of Pony artifacts, which included Chase De Jong's jersey signed by the entire 2008 World Championship team from Long Beach, with which we took a team picture. Most of the boys purchased a print of a painting of the World Series field and had the whole team sign each one for a keepsake.
We then went for ice cream at the amazing Sarris, which takes up a whole city block in nearby Canonsburg, and the ice cream was both excellent and generously served. From there we made a quick stop at the hotel and then proceeded to the field to see the Taipei vs Puerto Rico game to see who we would play tomorrow. Both teams were very sloppy in the early going, giving away runs with walks, wild pitches and errors. The Chinese team settled down quickly though and showed they were superior, posting a 10-5 win.
So we will face them in the Final game tomorrow at 1:00 to determine the World Champion.
WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS
LBP 14U (8-18) LONG BEACH 9, CHINESE TAIPEI 7 @ World Series in Washington, PA - We were very excited to get to face the Chinese, as we felt they were the best team from the other bracket and beating both Laredo and China would truly be a great accomplishment and an earned title. The Chinese team is very disciplined, extremely fast and plays great defense. They actually had several very large players and could hit enough to hurt any team. We knew it would take a great effort on our part to win this game.
The Beach couldn't score in the 1st in our usual visitors position, even with Will Semonsen leading off with a single and Jacob Hughey getting a one out walk. We had the Horse, Jack Williford pitching and he got off to a rocky start as the umpire had a very tight strike zone, walking 2 in the first. We also made an error on what looked like a double play ball, but with the help of a rundown play to nab a runner at third, got out of the inning without giving up a run.
The second was one wild inning. Eddie Cervantes singled to lead off and Tanner Meckes beat out a dribbler down the third base line to put two on. Riley Dent walked to load the bases and Semonsen banged the first pitch in left center for a 2 run single and the early lead. Spencer Steer then unloaded a 3 run homer to right center that put LB up 5-0, a huge lead with our pitching. Unfortunately, we had an uncharacteristic bottom of the inning, making an error, walking one and hitting another batter. China then singled in a run, followed by a blast to left center for a grand slam homer and a very sudden 5-5 tie. After another base hit, Williford was replaced by Semonsen, who got us out of the inning.
Showing the heart of a champion, we came right back in the 3rd. Williford walked and Austin Logan came in to run for him. Griffin Keller sacrificed him to 2nd and he tagged and went to 3rd on a fly out. Bryan Smith had entered the game at third base when we made the pitching change (Steer sliding over to short) and he came to bat in a crucial spot. He worked the count a bit and then hit one out in right center for a huge 2 run homer and both the LB dugout and crowd went nuts as we went up 7-5.
In the 4th, we added to the lead as Semonsen had yet another single and Steer hit his second homer of the game and third of the series, easily clearing the fence in left center, pushing the lead to 9-5. China got one back in the bottom of the inning on a hit batter, single, fielders choice and sacrifice fly.
Semonsen was throwing strikes but the strong Chinese hitters kept the pressure on, getting two infield hits in the 5th, only to have LB get out of the jam. They came back in the 6th, getting two doubles, the second one scoring the runner even with a great throw from right by Hughey.
So we went to the 7th with a somewhat shaky 9-7 lead, looking to score some insurance runs, which we were unable to do. That left it up to Semonsen and the LB defense to shut them down and get the 3 outs needed for victory and the championship. With the Chinese lineup, a 2 run deficit could certainly be made up and they started off well with a leadoff single. But Will put the hammer down, getting a groundout that moved the runner to second, then an easy fly ball to right. With two outs, he fired a fastball for a swinging strike three, ending the game and giving Long Beach its fourth World Championship to join the teams from 1959, 1965 and 2008.
What a tremendous run by a great group of kids and the coaching staff could not be more proud of them. On behalf of Manager Scot Chamberlain, Coach Rick Dent and myself, we would like to thank the families for all of their support in both Watsonville & Washington:
Randy & Glenda Smith, who were simply invaluable.
The entire extended Steer family
The entire Williford family
The Wade family
The Keller family
The Hughey family, working in shifts
The Meckes family, doing the same
The Petersen family, doing the same
The Logan family
The Cervantes family
Randy Cauble and then Donald Preston trading off for Maxx
Staci Dent, Theresa, Tyler & Tristin Chamberlain and my boys Kyle & Greg Salaya for giving up time with us so we could coach this team.
Kirk & Ilene Kelley
Everyone that followed us throughout our tournament run. -- Kirk Salaya
2012 ALL-STAR PRELIMINARY ROUNDS
PONY SECTION TOURNAMENT – LONG BEACH, CA.
LBP 14U - (7/19) LONG BEACH 3, LYNWOOD 0 - After a month of preparation and 16 games played, during which time LB went 15-1, we were finally ready to begin actual PONY tournament play. The games we played were a great learning experience and pulled us together as a team, as our only loss was to a West Covina team that won the World Series as 13 year olds last year. The boys came back the next day to beat that team 10-2 and gained confidence.
Jack Williford led Long Beach to a 3-0 win over a very solid Lynwood team by pitching a complete game 3 hit shutout. His 95 pitch outing included 10 strikeouts against only 3 walks and he was in command throughout the game. LB started the scoring in the first with two out as Jacob Hughey lined a single into right field. He was running on the pitch as Spencer Steer doubled into left center and scored easily. The boys were hitting a number of balls very hard and very deep, but they were just good looking outs as the Lynwood outfielders were playing way back and making the catches. In the 4th inning, Maxx Cauble lifted one very high to center that cleared the fence for a solo homer to give LB a 2-0 lead. We came back in the 5th, again with 2 outs as Will Semonsen singled and then stole second. He went to 3rd as the catcher dropped the pitch and then scored as Hughey beat out a high hopper to second with some great hustle to give us a 3-0 lead, which ended up as the final score. A very good win to start the tourney and we move on to play Heartwell on Saturday at 1:00. -- Kirk Salaya
LBP 14U - (7/21) LONG BEACH 0, HEARTWELL 5 - A rough game for the Long Beach crew as Heartwell's big righthander shut us down. LB was able to threaten in several innings, even looking like we would score the first run of the game in the 3rd, but Riley Dent was out on a very close play at home.
Jay Rohman pitched for LB and looked good through 3 but had a tough 4th inning during which Heartwell scored all their runs. Spencer Steer and Will Semonsen also pitched for LB and Will had 3 hits in the game to lead the team. We are now in the losers bracket and looking to continue. - Kirk SalayaLBP 14U - (7/21) LONG BEACH 5, PARAMOUNT 4 (8 innings) - We came back to the field for a 7 pm game looking to continue our run and ran up against a strong Paramount team that got off to a good start in the second inning against us, going up 3-0.
Griffin Keller started and after a good first inning, ran into trouble in the second. Austin Logan came on to get us out of the inning, but we were down and our bats still not working. Jacob Hughey led off the 2nd with a double down the left field line and alertly took third when the throw missed the cut-off and scored as they threw the ball away at third to make it 3-1. Will Semonsen came on to pitch in the 3rd and ended up throwing 6 great innings of relief, allowing only an unearned run in the 4th to give Paramount a 4-1 lead.
Our comeback started in the 4th with Maxx Cauble leading off with an infield single, followed by an Eddie Cervantes walk. Bryan Smith then came up huge with a 2 run double to right center, bringing the boys back to life at 4-3.
In the bottom of the 7th, we still trailed 4-3 and were down to our last out (and about to be eliminated) when Dent hit a grounder to first that looked like it would end the game with a loss....but the ball skipped off the first baseman's glove for an error, putting Riley safely at first. Semonsen then promptly banged a line drive double down the right field line scoring Riley with the tying run and when the throw got away from the catcher, Will just kept running, trying to score the winning run....but they recovered to tag him out at home. But we were alive and headed to extra innings! Will set them down 1-2-3 in the 8th and Spencer Steer led off the bottom of the inning with a clean single up the middle. Jacob & Eddie followed with walks as their pitcher tried to be careful, loading the bases. Spencer then scored the winning run on a wild pitch and the LB boys survived to play on Sunday against Cheviot Hills. - Kirk Salaya
LBP 14U - (7/22) LONG BEACH 19, CHEVIOT HILLS 3 - Well the boys brought their bats to this one! Will Semonsen lead off the game with a triple to right and Spencer Steer followed with a single to make it 1-0. Jacob Hughey singled next and Maxx Cauble then blasted a 3 run homer to left and the rout was on. Hughey had 3 hits and pitched the 1st 3 innings and Brandon Wade finished with the final 2. -- Kirk Salaya
LBP 14U - (7/22) LONG BEACH 3, LOS ALAMITOS 1 (in 9 innings) - The Cardiac Kids do it again!! In the final game of the tournament to determine which team would advance to the Super Regional in Riverside, the LB boys pulled off a great win in extra innings. Jack Williford took the mound just 3 days after his complete game victory in the first game of the tourney. Los Al started the game with 4 straight singles to go up 1-0 with the bases loaded and no outs. Williford settled in and struck out 2 straight batters and then got a ground ball out to minimize the damage. LB tied it up in the 3rd as Will Semonsen led off with a single and then stole second. He tagged up on a fly to right and scored as the throw went past 3rd to tie the game. In the 4th Cauble led off with a triple but LB couldn't get him in, the Los Al center fielder making an amazing catch on Jack's 2 out bomb that would have hit the fence halfway up in dead center.
In the top of the 7th LB left the bases loaded and couldn't score. In the bottom of the inning, Williford was able to strand the potential winning run at 3rd to send it into extra innings. Spencer Steer came on to pitch the 8th and was able to leave 2 runners out there to send it to the 9th.
Bryan Smith led off the 9th with a walk and after an out, Riley Dent sacrificed him to second. Semonsen drove a double down the right field line to score Smith on a very close play at the plate with the go ahead run. Spencer Steer then singled Will in to make it 3-1. Spencer closed it out with a 1-2-3 9th for the win.
The team now goes on to the Super Regional with the first game Tuesday 24th at 5:00pm. -- Kirk Salaya
PONY SUPER-REGIONAL TOURNAMENT – RIVERSIDE, CA.
LBP 14U - (7-24) LONG BEACH 11, VICTORIA 1 @ SUPER-REGIONAL, RIVERSIDE - The Long Beach boys drew a tough first SR game vs a traditionally strong Victoria team (who knocked out LB back in 2009). The Victoria team looked big and athletic (even though Jacob Hughey said we were bigger...not sure what he was looking at!). They had a very good lefty on the mound who put us down in order for 5 straight innings; you read it right, he had a perfect game through 5 and we trailed at that point 1-0. LB had Jay Rohman on the mound and he was almost as good, only giving up the one run in the 3rd.
Then the LB crew came to life in the top of the 6th, with Eddie Cervantes beating out a leadoff infield hit, just barely beating the throw to first. Monty Petersen came in to run and took off for 2nd on a bunt attempt that didn't get down, somehow getting in safely as the throw was dropped. Riley Dent walked to put guys at 1st and 2nd. Will Semonsen singled, loading the bases with 1 out. Spencer Steer hit into a force out that scored Monty to tie the game at 1. Hughey then drove a ball to left center for a double to make it 2-1. Maxx Cauble beat out an infield hit to make it 3-1 and a now rattled Victoria pitcher then balked in another run to make it 4-1. Jack Williford followed with a single to make it 5-1 and the Beach was back in business.
Rohman shut Victoria down in the 6th and then the LB boys put it away in the 7th, scoring another 6 runs. Jay got the first hit, followed by another Dent walk and a shot by Semonsen to short, Will safe on the error, loading the bases. Spencer Steer hit a hard liner the first baseman knocked down and tried to get the out at the plate but throwing wildly, scoring 2 runs. Hughey walked, Cauble singled in a run and Williford literally alomost knocked the pitcher out of the game with a hard liner up the middle making it 9-1. Tanner Meckes finished the scoring with a 2 run single.
Jay Rohman wanted the complete game and got it, striking out the side to finish with a whopping 14 strikeouts in a dominant performance, setting up the Beach for a 2nd round game on Friday night. -- Kirk SalayaLBP 14U - (7-27) LONG BEACH 8, RAMONA 1 @ SUPER-REGIONAL, RIVERSIDE - After our big win over Victoria on Tuesday, we came back Friday to play Ramona, another very large team though not as athletic looking as Victoria. Coach Scot decided to pass on the coin flip and warm up at a field 5 minutes away as we had done in the 1st game, so we were the visitors (and would remain that way in all the Super Regional games). LB got 3 singles in the first but with a questionable caught stealing call at second, we left 2 on and didn't score. Jack Williford took the mound and as in the Los Al game, he got off to a rough start, loading the bases. He got out of it with no damage though on a soft liner and a double play turned to end the inning.
LB scored in the 3rd as Spencer Steer singled, went to 2nd on a attempted pickoff error and then scored on a 2 out single by Maxx Cauble to put LB up 1-0. We tacked on a second run in the 5th as Tanner Meckes walked, Riley Dent had a bunt single and Will Semonsen walked to load the bases. Jacob Hughey got the run in with a sacrifice fly.
Jack had cruised through the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings but Ramona scratched out a run in the bottom of the 5th to make it 2-1 with an infield single, sacrifice and eventual sacrifice fly.
LB broke open the close game in the 7th as Dent, Semonsen, Steer & Hughey all singled to lead off the inning, the last 2 driving in runs. Griffin Keller added a 2 run single and the Beach ended up scoring 6 runs to make it 8-1 and give Williford some insurance. He wrapped up the win with a 1-2-3 7th, another complete game for him on only 71 pitches. -- Kirk SalayaLBP 14U - (7-28) LONG BEACH 7, WEST HILLS 3 @ SUPER-REGIONAL, RIVERSIDE Moving on in the coveted winners bracket, we faced West Hills...once again as visitors. It paid off as we jumped on them early. Will Semonsen leading off with a single and Spencer Steer promptly tripled him home for a 1-0 lead. Jacob Hughey followed with a single to make it 2-0 with no outs...but LB was not able to add more. Semonsen got the pitching assignment and was perfect through 4 innings, working in his signature rapid motion (so fast that Eddie Cervantes asked me to call the pitches quicker!).
In the bottom of the 5th Maxx Cauble made a great diving catch with 2 runners on to save at least 1 run.
We added a run in the 6th as Cauble and Williford singled and Keller laid down a great bunt to move the runners but was safe himself to load the bases. Cervantes then punched a single to bring in a run, making it 3-0. Unfortunately, we gave it all back in the bottom of the inning as Ramona got a few hits and we failed to make some plays.
So we went to the 7th tied and what an inning! Will lead off with a walk, and Jacob got on with 1 out on an error. Maxx singled in the go ahead run, Brandon Wade picked up another with a fielders choice and Eddie and Bryan Smith both singled in runs to make it 7-3 LB. Will shut them down 1-2-3 to get the 3rd straight complete game win by the LB staff. -- Kirk SalayaLBP 14U - (7-29) LONG BEACH 3, CHULA VISTA 2 @ SUPER-REGIONAL, WHITTIER - Yesterday's win put us in the winners bracket final vs Chula Vista (another big team! sensing a trend) as we moved over to Whittier. We got off to another great start as Will Semonsen walked, Spencer Steer and Jacob Hughey singled, the latter driving in the 1st run. Jack Williford then blasted a double to score another. Unfortunately we left runners at 2nd & 3rd, ending the inning up 2-0. Jay Rohman was our pitcher today and he loaded the bases on 2 walks and a little nubber down 3rd...only to end up stranding all the runners as he struck out the side. That was a preview of a game in which the other team clearly wasn't going to hit him much, but he was also struggling with his command.
Rohman lead off the 2nd with a single and Riley Dent then walked. Semonsen singled to load the bases and after an out, Hughey singled for his 2nd RBI to make it 3-0. We looked like we were about to blow the game open, especially as Maxx Cauble singled hard between 1st and 2nd, which would have scored 2 with only one out. Shockingly, the ball hit our runner, who was immediately called out and the ball declared dead, sending the runner who had scored back to 3rd. Instead of a 5-0 lead 1 out and 2 on...we then ended the inning leaving the bases loaded and only a 3-0 lead.
Some shaky defense lead to single runs for Chula Vista in the 4th inning on a 1st & 3rd "pickle play" and then again in the 6th with a couple of errors. Rohman kept battling but the command issues meant his pitch count was climbing and he was done after 5 innings. Hughey made a huge play in the 5th, with a bullet throw from right field to nail a runner trying to go from first to third on a single.
Meanwhile, LB kept getting runners on and into scoring position, only to fail to drive them in. We left a runner at 3rd in the 3rd, left 2 on in the 4th and worst of all in the 7th, trying to add some insurance runs and failing to score after loading the bases. Not our cleanest game on either side of the ball.
Spencer Steer had come on to pitch the 6th and was dropping his curve in for strikes. Going into the 7th with a 1 run lead, we needed 3 outs for the win. The CV lead off batter singled and after an out, the tying run was at second base and we looked to be in danger of losing the lead and possibly the game. Eddie Cervantes than made the play of the game, catching the runner off second with his backpick throw and in the subsequent rundown, Semonsen made sure of the tag for a huge out. With 2 out and no one on, Steer made an amazing catch with his back to the plate of a soft liner over his head toward short, ending the game with a close 3-2 win for the Beach, putting us into the Championship game on Monday. Rohman gets the win and Steer gets the save. -- Kirk Salaya
LBP 14U - (7-30) LONG BEACH 2, VICTORIA 3 @ SUPER-REGIONAL, WHITTIER - Monday night brought us to the Super Regional Finals and Victoria Riverside was our opponent after surviving an incredible 6 possible elimination games in the losers bracket. So the tournament was ending the same way it started with what looked to be the two strongest teams. LB was one win away from the Zone Championships in Watsonville.
Victoria had the same big lefty pitching that threw 5 perfect innings against us in the first game of the tourney. His perfect game did not last even one batter this time as Will Semonsen lead off with a sharp line drive double to right center. Spencer Steer followed by ripping one down the left field line for a run scoring double and we were up 1-0. Maxx Cauble knocked in Steer with a single to give LB a 2-0 lead.
Jack Williford had the start and survived a 1st & 3rd situation in the first. He then cruised through the next few innings as LB left a runner on each inning. In the 4th, LB left the bases loaded in the top of the inning without scoring, while Victoria got a run in the bottom of the inning when a single was played into a triple. Neither team really threatened in the 5th & 6th, so the 7th started with LB up 2-1 and 3 outs away from the Championship.
Looking to add some runs, Tanner Meckes lead off with a single, but we ended up leaving him at 2nd. This game was feeling a lot like our narrow victory over Chula Vista the day before, with LB wasting scoring opportunities and our opponent only scoring on our mistakes. Unfortunately, this time it cost us the victory as we unraveled just enough to hand Victoria the victory on our errors, 3-2. Williford certainly deserved better with yet another complete game with a pitch count in the 70's. As we were the winners bracket champs, Victoria had to beat us twice to win and advance, so on to the second game of the evening at 7:00 pm. -- Kirk Salaya
LBP 14U - (7-30) LONG BEACH 4, VICTORIA 1 @ SUPER-REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, WHITTIER - The boys were down and upset but we regrouped with the thought that Victoria could not beat us twice. With our pitching a bit depleted, Austin Logan got his first action of the tourney on the mound and had a shaky 1st inning with Victoria scoring once for a 1-0 lead, but then minimizing the damage and getting us out of the inning.
Maxx Cauble and Jack Williford both singled to start the 2nd and Griffin Keller singled Maxx in to tie it at 1-1. Logan hit into a force out to score the go ahead run and the inning ended with LB up 2-1.
The second was looking worse than the first with 2 on and no out when Logan made a good play to start a double play at third and Spencer Steer making a great throw to complete it and keep them scoreless. That seemed to really settle Logan, who then started to locate his pitches down in the zone and he had 3 straight 1-2-3 innings, including the 5th in which he only made 3 pitches! Austin ended up going 5 1/3 innings in the biggest start of his life and giving LB a terrific performance.
LB picked up a couple of huge runs in the 3rd with Steer and Jacob Hughey singling and Williford walking to load the bases. Keller came up big again, with a 2 run double to put LB up 4-1 and giving him 3 RBI's on the night.
In the 6th, Victoria had 2 singles and only 1 out and it was time to go to Will Semonsen to try and shut them down. A swinging dribbler down the line was converted into an out at first with a great defensive play by Semonsen, putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with 2 out. A base hit would bring Victoria within 1 run, but Will ended the inning with a tremendous curve that dropped in and froze the batter for a called strike three.
Both teams went 1-2-3 in the 7th, with Semonsen ending the game and tournament in style, getting a strikeout to make LB the Super Regional Champs and send us to Watsonville. -- Kirk Salaya
PONY WEST ZONE TOURNAMENT – WATSONVILLE, CA.
LBP 14U - (8-3) LONG BEACH 12, SANTA CRUZ 3 @ WEST ZONE, WATSONVILLE, CA - On a cold overcast morning in Watsonville, we started the Western Zone tournament against Santa Cruz. The Watsonville field is the nicest we have played on and we look forward to a great tourney and a chance to move on to the World Series in PA.
As usual, we were visitors but didn't get anything going in the first. Our horse Jack Williford was on the mound and had a great 1-2-3 inning with 2 strikeouts. He then led off the 2nd with a walk and was sacrificed to 2nd by Griffin Keller. Eddie Cervantes singled to put runners at 1st & 3rd. Tanner Meckes was safe on an error by the shortstop with Jack scoring. Eddie then scored on a passed ball to give LB a 2-0 lead.
We doubled that in the 3rd as Maxx Cauble singled, moved up on a fielders choice and went to third on a single by Griffin. He went to 2nd on a passed ball. Cervantes then came up with a big 2 run single to make it 4-0.
In the 4th, Will Semonsen singled then scored as Spencer Steer doubled to the base of the left field fence. He then stole 3rd standing up and scored as Cauble was safe on a fielders choice. Williford then hit a shot down the left field line to the fence that scored Maxx to make it 7-0.
Meanwhile Jack had a perfect game going through 4 innings and was cruising until SC managed to get 2 runs in the 5th. They also added another run in the 5th after we put up two in the top half of the inning as Jacob Hughey doubled and Williford singled him in. Brandon Wade then made it 9-2 with a hard single.
LB pushed it to a final score of 12-3 in the 7th as Meckes walked, stole second, moved to 3rd and scored on a wild pitch. Semonsen doubled down the right field line and scored on Steer's double to left center. Hughey finished the scoring with a single to score Steer.
Austin Logan pitched the final two innings as the LB boys move on to play Kauai on Saturday. -- Kirk SalayaLBP 14U - (8-4) LONG BEACH 4, KAUAI, HAWAII 1 @ WEST ZONE, WATSONVILLE, CA - We had our second game in the West Zone Tourney, but since we felt that Kauai was the best team we would face, we really considered this the most important game.
As usual, we were visitors and looked like we were off to a great start with Will Semonsen leading off with a single and Spencer Steer safe as an error was made on an attempted force play, Will taking third. LB looked to be in business. Within a minute, a strikeout and interference call had all but ended the threat. Our boys were frustrated we didn't score and Kauai was pumped up. That and some poor defense on our side led to a run for them in the bottom of the first. Jay Rohman minimized the damage by striking out the last two batters and leaving runners at 2nd & 3rd.
Both teams went 1-2-3 in the 2nd with Rohman striking out the side. He would go on to strike out 2 in each inning from the 3rd through the 5th, mainly with a nasty curveball that was bouncing for swinging strikes, with catcher Eddie Cervantes doing a great job of blocking balls and throwing out runners at first to complete the strikeout.
In the 4th, Jack Williford singled and Monty Petersen ran for him. Griffin Keller was safe on an error and Tanner Meckes ran for him, putting runners at 2nd & 3rd. Cervantes came through again, singling in Petersen for the tying run with Meckes out on a close play at the plate.
The 6th inning saw Jacob Hughey hit a 1 out single and then take 2nd on a passed ball. Maxx Cauble singled to put runners at 1st and 3rd, then Williford followed with a single for the go ahead run. LB tacked on 2 more in the 7th as Riley Dent, Semonsen & Steer all singled, the last driving in the third LB run. Hughey knocked in the 4th run on a fielders choice and the scoring was complete.
So we went into the bottom of the 7th with a 4-1 lead and 3 outs to go for the win. It wasn't easy as Kauai got 2 on, but failed to score as Rohman closed out a complete game win with 13 strikeouts in a dominant performance against a very good team.
We stay in the winners bracket and play Campbell ( NorCal) Sunday at 5:00pm. -- Kirk SalayaLBP 14U - (8-5) LONG BEACH 4, CAMPBELL, CA 3 @ WEST ZONE, WATSONVILLE, CA - Well the Cardiac Kids did it again in Watsonville. We finally had a sunny day today and it was almost warm, a welcome change from the last few days. With a 5:00 game today, we let the boys sleep in and went to McDonalds for a huge take out order and brought it back to the hotel just as they were waking up and they stuffed themselves on pancakes, egg burritos and Mcmuffins. We went to the field as a team to check out the other games and then headed back to get ready for our game against Campbell.
We kept up our program of always being visitors and Will Semonsen started us off with a double over the head of the left fielder. Spencer Steer singled him to 3rd and Jacob Hughey loaded the bases with a walk. As has so often happened, we failed to totally capitalize on the situation and only got 1 run as Semonsen scored on a wild pitch. Seems like we are always 1 big hit short of breaking open an inning. In the bottom of the inning with Semonsen pitching, he worked out of a jam by picking a runner off second with 2 runners on.
Both teams went quietly in the 2nd and 3rd innings, with Steer turning in a fantastic play on an infield chopper in the third, flying across the infield to grab the ball and throwing out the runner.
In the 4th, Campbell scored a run on a single and double to tie the score at 1. In true LB fashion we came right back in the top of the 5th as Eddie Cervantes started with a single and Tanner Meckes came in to run for him. Bryan Smith & Riley Dent both walked to load the bases. Semonsen then singled in the go ahead run and Steer just missed a homer on a big fly to center that ended up as a sacrifice fly and a 3-1 lead. Hughey then doubled in the 4th run.
Semonsen worked 1-2-3 innings in the 5th and 6th and the Beach looked to be in great shape with only 3 outs to go. Unfortunately we made things way more interesting than needed in the bottom of the 7th, allowing 2 runs to score and Campbell having the tying run at second when we got the last out for a 4-3 win and a berth in the championship game. Semonsen had another complete game for the LB staff in an impressive performance. We will play Tuesday against the winner of the losers bracket and only need one win to win the Zone Championship and advance to the World Series. -- Kirk SalayaLBP 14U - (8-7) LONG BEACH 3, CAMPBELL 2 WEST ZONE CHAMPIONSHIP @ WATSONVILLE - On a perfect day for baseball, the Long Beach boys were looking to take their final step to the World Series and needed 1 win out of a possible 2 games to get there. Once again, we were in our usual spot in the first base dugout as the visitors and we had an opportunity in the first after a Spencer Steer single and Maxx Cauble getting hit by a pitch, but left them both out on the bases.
The workhorse of our pitching staff, Jack Williford, got the ball and worked a 1-2-3 first on only 7 pitches. Unfortunately, he left a pitch up in the zone in the second and their big clean up hitter hit a solo homer to give Campbell a 1-0 lead. They bumped that lead to 2-0 in the 2nd with a walk, sacrifice and timely single. Meanwhile the LB boys looked a bit flat, leaving Cauble at 3rd after a lead off pop double in the 4th.
So Coach Rick Dent broke out his old school rap to pump the boys up to lead off the 5th and it worked. Will Semonsen singled, Steer immediately doubled him in, hitting a shot to right center to make it 2-1. Jacob Hughey then followed with a double of his own, a hard grounder past first base to tie the score at two apiece. We left him on the bases and couldn't break the tie, but we had new life and a new ball game.
Williford had 2 straight huge 1-2-3 innings for us to keep Campbell in check, even though he clearly did not have his best stuff and was battling his command all day. They say the mark of a good pitcher is winning without your best stuff, and Jack was a good pitcher today.
With 2 outs in the 6th, Eddie Cervantes came up big for us, hammering a double over the head of the left fielder. Monty Petersen came in to run and Riley Dent picked him up, knocking in the go ahead run on a 1-2 sharp grounder up the middle. LB now had a lead for the first time in the game and only needed 6 more outs for the win. Williford got 3 of those outs in a 1-2-3 6th inning, facing the top of the Campbell lineup.
We were looking to add some insurance runs in the 7th and Steer smoked a leadoff liner, but the third baseman made a leaping catch for the out. After the 2nd out, Cauble hit a line shot right back up the middle off the shin of the pitcher, who somehow was able to recover and still throw Maxx out at first. So even with two hard line drives, we had nothing to show for it, and went to the bottom 7th holding on to our slim 3-2 lead.
We called on Jay Rohman to finish the game as Campbell's big home run hitter was leading off the inning. He took Jay's first pitch deep to left and it looked like he might have his second homer of the game and our lead would be gone. Luckily it fell short of the fence and he settled for a double. Still, they were one single away from tying up the game. The next hitter looked to bunt the runner over to 3rd, but instead popped one halfway up the first baseline in foul territory and Hughey made an amazing diving catch for a crucial 1st out. After a walk put runners at 1st and 2nd, Rohman got a huge strikeout for the second out. He then induced a comeback grounder from the next hitter and threw him out at first to get the save and finish a huge victory for the Beach. So the Cardiac Kids win another close game and get their trip to PA for the World Series, the 4th time in 6 years that Long Beach has made the Series. Quite an incredible accomplishment and we hope to match the 2008 team as World Champions.
The coaching staff could not be more proud of how the boys have played and we are also extremely appreciative of the tremendous support from the families and friends that made the trip to Watsonville. A special thanks to our financial guru Randy Smith and our Secretary of Transportation, Chris Steer. GO BEACH! -- Kirk Salaya
2012 PONY 13's ALL-STARS
Manager: Frank Bennett (Dodgers)
Coaches: Ken Jakemer (Dodgers)
Stacy Ybarra (Dodgers)
Bobby Haycox (Rays)
Michael Hall (Angels)
Bryce Hed (Angels)
Zack Pettway (Angels)
Cole Weeks (Astros)
Curtis Stewart (Astros)
Matt Abdelnour (Dodgers)
Landon Anderson (Dodgers)
Owen Beebe (Dodgers)
Trevor Barlow (Rays)
Lorenzo Haycox (Rays)
Jacob Allen (Red Sox)
Diego Frausto (Red Sox)
David Tillman (Red Sox)
Ben Landworth-Kleinhenz (Red Sox)
Matt Seibert (Reds)
LAYB INVITATIONAL - Los Alamitos
LONG BEACH PONY 13U - TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS
PONY SECTION TOURNAMENT (July 6-8, 2012)
@ LOS ALAMITOS
LONG BEACH PONY 13U - REGION CHAMPIONS - ADVANCE TO ZONE
Saturday - 7/7
Long Beach (7)
Los Alamitos B (4)
Sunday - 7/8
Long Beach (7)
whaley invitational 13u (jULY 14-15, 2012)
@ whaley park
Saturday - 7/14
Long Beach (6)
Sunday - 7/15
Long Beach (18)
Redondo Highlanders (1)
PONY WEST ZONE TOURNAMENT (July 21-25, 2012)
@ AMERAGE PARK, FULLERTON
Saturday - 7/21
Long Beach (20)
Sunday - 7/22
Long Beach (6)
Maui, Hawaii (5) 8 Innings
Tuesday - 7/24
Long Beach (8)
Tuesday - 7/24
Long Beach (1)
2011 PONY 14's ALL-STARS
Manager: Ken Jakemer (Dodgers) Coaches: Jerry Barham (Dodgers)
Stacy Ybarra (Dodgers)
Brad Dunlap (Dodgers)
Mike Fitzgerald (Angels)
Spencer Hill (Angels)
Blake Perkins (Angels)
Andy Brown (Astros)
Tristin Chamberlain (Astros)
Jake Barham (Dodgers)
Jeremy Corbin (Dodgers)
Connor Dunlap (Dodgers)
Josh Goldberg (Dodgers)
Marc Moroney (Dodgers)
Jackson Foss (Rays)
Tyler Radcliffe (Rays)
Will Johnson (Yankees)
Sean Suarez (Yankees)
Manager: Ken Jakemer
Coaches: Stacy Ybarra & Jerry Barham
Michael Fitzgerald (Angels)
Spencer Hill (Angels)
Scott Soto (Angels)
Andy Brown (Astros)
Tristin Chamberlain (Astros)
Max Whitt (Astros)
Connor Dunlap (Dodgers)
Josh Goldberg (Dodgers)
Jimmy Martin (Dodgers)
Jake Barham (Dodgers)
Jackson Foss (Rays)
Kelly Hess (Red Sox)
Matthew Palacios (Red Sox)
Will Johnston (Yankees)
Game 1 : July 22 - Long Beach 1, Redlands 0
Game 2 : July 24 - Long Beach 4, Anaheim 2
Game 3 : July 27 - Long Beach 9, Emerald 0
Game 4 : July 29 - Long Beach 13, Whittier 5 (Long Beach Wins 'Super' Region Championship)
PONY West Zone Tournament @ Fullerton
Amerige Field, Fullerton, CA
300 Commonwealth Rd., Fullerton
[CLICK FOR BRACKET]
Game 1: 8/2 - Long Beach 10, West Jordan, UT 0
Game 2: 8/3 - Long Beach 4, Tucson, AZ 3
Game 3: 8/4 - Long Beach 6, Tucson, AZ 5
Game 4: 8/6 - Long Beach 10, Victoria 7 (Long Beach Wins West Zone Championship)
PONY World Series @ Washington, PA
Lew Hayes Field, Washington, PA
[CLICK FOR BRACKET]
Game 1: 8/10 - Long Beach 5, Tamiami, FL 1
Game 2: 8/12 -Long Beach 10, Hagerstown, MD 4
Game 3: 8/14 - Long Beach 9, Tamiami, FL 7
Game 4: 8/16 - Long Beach 3, Chinese-Taipei 2 (Long Beach Wins World Series Championship)
FRI 8/8 - Our adventure to Pennsylvania got off to a less than stellar start as the plane ticket arrangements were botched by the Pony Headquarters. Instead of the team leaving as schedule on Friday at 8:30 AM, it was determined that our tickets were actually for the day before. This caused the Pony staff to scramble to find seats for our team on Friday. the result? We wound up on three different flights, each with a different layover city, and the flights left LAX at 6:40 AM. This meant a 4:15 AM pick-up at Whaley park, and a long day on the plane to PA.
The good news was that everyone made it safely and relatively on time. We were greeted at the hotel by Chase DeJong who returned from Florida to joins at the World Series. The teams here are much bigger then we remember from last year, and it seems very strange to be here again. It feels like we were only gone a week. People are very happy to have us back, and our old friends remember us too.
We start the festivities off tomorrow, but for now it's time to get some much needed rest for everyone.
SAT 8/9 - The official start of the 2008 PONY World Series began with the managers meeting at 9:00 AM. Rules were reviewed, new team hats were handed out, and the the coin tosses were done for all games in the tournament. (We will be the visitors for most of our games). Later in the morning, the teams headed over to Lew Hays field for team photos. The 8th annual Friends Game featured two teams of physically or mentally challenged boys and girls, who got the opportunity to play (and win) against the World Series All-star players. Long Beach's Thomas Walker was a key participant in the game helping out the kids on offense, and then taking a big K when he got his chance to bat. This was a very memorable experience, especially after the game as the players congratulated each participant with high fives and words of praise and encouragement.
After a couple hour break, we were back at the PONY fields for the Opening Ceremonies. Each team was introduced, and took up positions on the baselines. The national anthems from Chinese-Taipei, Puerto Rico, and the USA were performed, and it was time for play to begin. We watched the Chinese team play a steady game and win 11-0 over Davenport. Iowa. In the nightcap, the Area host Johnstown, PA, stunned the crowd by capturing their first ever World Series win by defeating Puerto Rico 6-2. The players spent most of this time working the crowd and meeting the locals. When it was over, it was back to the hotel, and a firm curfew to get ready for our big day on Sunday.
The highlights of the day have been the bonding between our boys and the team from Taichung City, Taiwan. The friendship has been building since the early morning when the two teams got together and chose up sides for a big whiffle ball game in the parking lot. The team captains (Soloman for LB) picked players from both teams, and the boys played an inspiring game...even though they could not communicate very clearly at first.
Thomas Walker became the un-official international representative for the team, and has become very very popular with the Taiwan team. He has greeted them with 'hello' in their native language, eliciting smiles and a "Thomas, you very smart' reply from one of their coaches. During their game, Thomas would call out the name of one of their players, who sheepishly acknowledged each call of his name with a smile and a tip of the hat.
Later that night at the hotel, the same Taiwan player saw Thomas downstairs and called out for him. When Thomas looked up, the player tossed him a Chinese-Taipei practice shirt as a sign of respect and friendship. This touching moment was repeated moments later when Thomas returned the favor by giving the player a LB hat and practice jersey of his own. This truly magic moment was one that accurately shows what this event is REALLY about. Life changing experiences that will last a lifetime.
Time for bed, and dreams of tomorrow's competition. Stay tuned.
SUN 8/10 - The early morning wake-up calls went unanswered today, and we had to rush to get players up and ready for the World Series Breakfast. It turned out to be a good thing, as we were the last ones to arrive, and then ultimately the first to get in line to eat! Such luck!
The breakfast featured every team and their families and friends. Coach Ken spoke about the background of our league, our relatively small size (5 teams), and our sincere appreciation of being back again for the second year in a row. He also mentioned that Long Beach is planning on making a return trip again next year, to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Long Beach Pony 1959 championship.
After breakfast, the players had to hurry and get ready to go take some batting practice before the big game later in the evening. Once at practice, the focus wavered away from the game, and centered more around discussions of who would hit in the HR contest the following day. This was not the focus we wanted, and the coaches nipped that attitude in the bud quickly. However, there was lingering concern about how we would perform later in the evening.
After a short rest, the vans were ready to take us back to the field for the game against Tamiami. The conditions were perfect at the start of the game, and Chase DeJong reminded us of what we had been missing in the Zone tournament. He threw a complete game, allowing only 1 late run in the 7th, to lead the Beach to a 5-1 win.
Catcher Matt Maccarrone led of the 3rd inning with a solo home run to right center to break a scoreless tie. Soloman Williams had two big hits, and drove in 2 runs to keep Long Beach alive in the winners bracket.
The post game activities were shortened by a light rain that sent the team back to the hotel for some quality delivery pizza! Then it was time to return to our own rooms and get some much needed rest.
MON 8/11 - Monday morning arrived with a bit of rain fall on the ground, but that would be all for the day as the team got ready to head to the park for the Home Run hitting contest and the Fastest Runner competition.
Representing the Long Beach team in these events were batters Irie Elizalde and Soloman Williams, and runner Brett Harper. The contest got underway, and many players were struggling to hit more than 1 HR before 10 outs. After 10 players had batted, Soloman's turn came up. He was able smack 2 HR's out of the park, placing him in a tie with a 3 other players at 2 each. Next up was Irie, who found some rhythm and stroked 3 balls out of the park. Watching the final first round participants bat was a tense time as Soloman and the rest of the 2 HR players were on the bubble to advance to the second round. Unfortunately, there were two batters that hit more than 5 each, and Soloman was eliminated. However, Irie advanced to the final round of 4, representing LB. He would not capture the crown on this day though, as the Chinese-Taipei batter took home the trophy.
Next up was the Fastest runner competition, which Brett Harper ran a solid 14.35 run around the bases. His time was good for 3rd place overall, as the Puerto Rico runner won the competition with a time of 13.96.
After returning to the motel for a brief period of down time (think laundry and telecommuting to work), the entire Long Beach congregation in Pennsylvania went to dinner at Angelo's Italian Restaurant for a wonderful group dinner. Many thanks to the parent who coordinated the event. It was really great to have everyone together at one time and place.
From the restaurant the team headed over to Lew Hays field to watch the evenings games (or to be seen by the local female population....not sure which one was the priority?) The night ended with an 11:00 curfew, and a renewed focus to prepare for the game tomorrow. We have a busy schedule tomorrow including a luncheon at the Rotary Club at noon, batting practice after that, and then the game vs. Hagerstown, MD at 8:00 PM local time.
TUE 8/12 - The team awoke on Tuesday refreshed and ready for a busy day. Things started off with a team luncheon with the Rotary Club of Washington, PA. Our team represented Long Beach very proudly, and the Rotarians were again very impressed by our young men's poise, manners, and intelligence. Chase DeJong gave the opening invocation, and Coach Romo kept the audience on the edge of their seats during his recap of our journey to get here.
The next activity of the day came when a few players were taken in full uniform to the Pony International Headquarters for some advance video shots and on camera interviews in preparation for Fox Sports scheduled broadcast of the World Series final. Thomas Walker was asked to sit for one of the interviews, and he knocked it out of the park.
At the same time, the rest of the team went for some pre-game batting practice with Coach Rick and Coach Victor, before returning back to the rooms for a couple hours of rest before we headed back to the fields for our late game.
Finally, we got to play the game, and Long Beach jumped out early as Brett Harper led off the game with a bunt single, Daniel DeWolf followed with a double, and both runners would score before the inning ended. Ty Provencher took the mound for the Beach, and he came out strong. He would retire the side 1-2-3 in the first.
In the second inning Long Beach scored again on a solo home run by Harper, and in the 4th they would score 2 more times with two outs to take a 5-0 lead. Provencher kept the Marylanders frustrated through 3, but in the 4he encountered some difficulty as the bases were loaded with 1 out and a run across. Oliver Van Buskirk was summoned to relieve Ty, and he escaped the jam by striking out the next two hitters to end the inning.
With momentum back on their side, the Beach again rallied with two outs. This time they would get an RBI single by Avery Flores, and an RBI double by Harper to extend the lead to 8-1. Meanwhile, Van Buskirk kept throwing hard, and he completed his 2 2/3 innings of work without allowing a run or hit, while striking out 4.
In the 7th, Long Beach scored twice more, again with 2 outs. A Chase DeJong double brought home the final run of the night for LB,making the score 10-1. Cody Elder was handed the ball to finish the game, and he recorded the final out with runners on base, and Long Beach was heading to their lower bracket final on Thursday.
Finally, we had the van ride back to the motel, a quick bite to eat, and another good nights sleep with nice dreams of a World Series victory in each of our heads. What a great way to end the day!
WED 8/13 - With an off day on Wednesday, the team slept in a bit later than usual, and we all went to the nationally famous Waffle House for a mid-day breakfast meal. Returning to the WH brought back fresh memories of last years team, and the staff behind the counter remembered us, and how well behaved our teams were. After breakfast we headed back to the rooms, and Coach Romo worked his connections to book the team seats at the Pirates vs. Reds game later that night at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
We chartered a bus to take the 49 members of our team and extended families that were interested in the game, over to PNC Park. The 40 minute bus ride took us through some beautiful parts of the country, highlighting the long history of this part of the nation. As is expected when traveling with small children, we had to make an emergency potty stop just a few minutes from the stadium. The bus erupted in cheers when Boston Bob returned to the bus, with a skip in his step, and we were able to proceed.
At the game, we enjoyed one of the most beautiful ballparks in America. We were also acknowledged on the electronic scoreboard as the 'Long Beach, CA PONY World Series team'. The Pirates were energized by our attendance, and defeated the Reds in a quick game that had us on our way back to the motel before 10:00 PM.
The players and coaches returned to their rooms, and in a short period of time, all was quiet. We will awake tomorrow with a focus on preparation for the game on Thursday night against Tamiami, FL.
THU 8/14 - We awoke on Thursday with the realization we were one game away from the finals on Saturday, and we had to spend a whole day waiting for our 8:00 PM start time. The weather was dark and cloudy, and there was a real threat of rain throughout the area. We took the team to the Wild Things batting cage to prepare, and then went back to 'rest' before we headed out to the field.
Out at Lew Hays field, the first game of the night featured Chinese-Taipei and Puerto Rico. In a close battle, Puerto Rico handed the Chinese-Taipei team their first loss, 7-4 forcing a rematch today to reach the championship game on Saturday. the game ran a bit late, so we had to wait a bit longer to finally take the field.
The game finally started, and we batted first (again!) as Brett Harper walked, advanced on Daniel DeWolf's single, and scored on a passed ball to give Long Beach the early lead. Soloman Williams took the mound, and retired the side allowing only a lead-off single. In the second, the Beach put two more runners on base, but could not get the timely hit and failed to score. Tamiami came right back and scored a run of their own on a double and single, before the final two outs of the inning were recorded.
In the third, DeWolf singled to start things off, Thomas Walker was hit by the pitch, and Chase DeJong singled in a run forcing a Tamiami pitching change. Williams greeted the new pitcher with a single, but that would be all as Long Beach took a 2-1 lead. Williams returned to the mound to face the top of the Tamiami order, and retired them in order.
The Beach scored a single run in the 4th on a bunt single by Avery Flores and a long double by DeWolf. Walker was hit by another pitch, but the Beach could not capitalize on it and had to settle for a 3-1 advantage. The bottom of the inning did not go so well. Soloman walked the lead-off batter (while throwing what looked like 7 good strikes in the at bat). The next batter hit a slow roller to Thomas , who slipped and was unable to complete the play. The next batter singled sharply to right, and the ball went to the wall scoring one run. After getting two quick outs, and an 0-2 count on the #9 hitter, a mislocated fastball caught enough of the plate for the hitter to reach out and single to right, driving in two runs and giving Tamiami the lead 4-3. Williams would get the final out, on a grounder to Walker.
With a need to respond to the Tamiami rally, Williams led off the 5th with a solid single up the middle. With Jake Hardy at the plate, Williams attempted to steal second, and beat the throw to the base. But as he slide, the break away base came loose, and at the same time the shortstop swiped Williams' arm off the base for a questionable out call. The inning would end without a run, and Long Beach still trailing by 1.
Long Beach sent Oliver Van Buskirk out to pitch the bottom of the 5th. He got off to a bit of a rocky start, by hitting the first batter and allowing a single to the next hitter. A long fly out to Harper in center, and an intentional walk of #45 Knez, loaded the bases. Oliver would strike out the next hitter for the second out on the inning, but a wild pitch would score runner from 3rd. Another walk load the bases again, but again Van Buskirk stuck out the hitter to end the inning with a score of 5-3.
With a 2 run deficit and time running out, Long Beach needed to respond. Tamiami made another pitching change, bringing in a lefthander to try and close the game out. Leading off the 6th was Van Buskirk. After taking the count to 3-2, he drove a fastball far over the fence in right field for a long home run cutting the led to 1. This energized the squad and also rattled the Tamiami team. Flores reached on an error, and after a ground out by Harper, DeWolf came up and doubled down the left field line to tie the game. Walker stepped up and drove a double down the right field line scoring DeWolf and Long Beach had regained the lead at 6-5. DeJong and Williams would both reach base on fielder's choices, before the inning ended on a come backer to the mound.
Tamiami started the bottom of the 6th with the top of their order batting. A lead-off walk, was followed by a single to right field. Williams scooped up the hit, and threw to DeJong, who wheeled around and threw a bullet to DeWolf at third to catch the runner rounding third to far. This was a critical momentum play for the Beach. A pop fly to DeWolf at third was caught for the second out, but the next batter stroked a single to move the runner to second. A two out grounder to second resulted in an error as Avery slipped while making the play, loading the bases with Tamiami's biggest slugger coming to the plate. The call to the bullpen was answered by DeWolf , who got behind 2-0 to the fearsome hitter. The next pitch was a curve that didn't reach the target as it landed squarely in the back of the hitter, forcing in the tying run. (This was actually a very good thing, as he could have driven in many more if he kept his hot hitting streak going). DeWolf then struck out the final hitter of the inning as we headed to the 7th all tied up at 6-6
Matt Maccarrone led off with a grounder to second, but the ball was booted, and the Beach had a lead-off runner. Maccarrone tried to catch the Tamiami team with their heads down by stealing second, but the attempt was thwarted and Long Beach had lost a big runner. Van Buskirk grounded out for the second out, as Flores came up to bat. The number 9 hitter smacked his second hit of the game to right field. Harper followed with a grounder to short that was mishandled for an error. DeWolf came up and drove a pitch up the middle for his 5th hit, and an RBI to give Long Beach the lead. After a steal of second by DeWolf , Walker stroked a hit to right driving in Harper and Dewolf. DeJong was hit by the pitch, and Williams would walk to load the bases again, but the final out was recorded on a strike out as Long Beach took a 9-6 lead into the bottom of the 7th.
Waiting to close out the game was Chase DeJong, and he confidently strode to the mound. The first batter he faced had homered off DeJong in the previous game between these two teams, and he smacked another long drive that stayed in the park, but resulted in a triple. Unfazed due to the 3 run lead, DeJong got a ground ball out to Flores, which scored the run from 3rd, bringing up the top of the order again. But DeJong was throwing heat, and he proceeded to strike out the final two hitters, and Long Beach was heading to the PONY World Series Championship for the second year in a row.
We will have more info about the game on Saturday, but the information we have now is that the game should be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports at 10:00 AM on Saturday (Only on satellite systems that can get the Pittsburgh feed - DirectTV and Dish Network customers). Don't miss your last chance to watch these young men play their great brand of baseball representing Long Beach, California, and the United States.
FRI 8/15 - With the big win on Thursday, we had another 'off' day on Friday. While Puerto Rico and Chinese-Taipei were preparing for one more battle to reach the championship game on Saturday, we were able to relax a bit and focus on the Saturday game. We had a couple of solid batting sessions, before heading out to CiCi's All-you-can-eat pizza parlor, for dinner. We witnessed a thrilling (yet appalling) eating contest between Irie Elizalde and Oliver Van Buskirk, who were out to break the record set last year by Alex Campbell of 42 pieces. As the competition wound down, they were neck-and-neck at 36. But Irie put on a big final kick, and wound up winning (?) by finishing 45 slices (but not the crust), with Oliver a distant second with 38.
Meanwhile, back at PONY Headquarters we were applying the full court press on Fox Sports to get the game carried live back home. Unfortunately, it appears that all of our efforts were unsuccessful, other than the fact that the games cane be seen on DirectTV or Dish Network systems. (For a small additional fee to get the Pittsburgh feed).
Over at Lew Hays field, we were able to watch the PR vs. C-T game, and were pleased with the fact that Chinese-Taipei defeated Puerto Rico 5-4. In the contest, the Chinese-Taipei team had to use their ace, leaving him unavailable on Saturday. Long Beach will have a fully rested pitching staff, and will send their ace, Chase DeJong out to the mound on Saturday.
We have reached the final game of the 2008 PONY World Series Championships for the second year in a row. A tremendous achievement on it's own, but we have unfinished business to take care of, and we will need all of your support to bring back the championship to Long Beach, California.
SAT 8/16 - We awoke this morning with a much shorter day than any other previous day here in Pennsylvania. With a 1:00 PM start time for the Championship game, we had to get up early, get some breakfast, sign some autographs, and get over to the ball field at 11:15 AM. Upon our arrival at Lew Hays field this morning, you could tell this was a much bigger game than we had ever played. The presence of 6 TV cameras strategically positioned around the field was an awesome and exciting sight for all to see.
There was some confusion surrounding the schedule of events leading up to the 1:07 first pitch, as they had to allow for some pre-game ceremonies. The delays caused our starting pitcher, Chase DeJong, to have to scramble to get his proper pre-game warm-ups in. After the teams were announced, and the national anthems from Taiwan and the United States were played, it was time to get the game started.
Chase took the mound and retired the first two hitters he faced, before giving up a double over Brett Harper's head in centerfield. The next hitter grounded to third, but the throw was over Soloman Williams head, and Taiwan had a 1-0 lead as the inning ended on a sharp grounder to third. On offense, the Beach sputtered a bit at the start and managed only a Daniel DeWolf single before the side was retired.
In the second, with two outs, a walk and a bunt single put two Taiwan runners on base, before DeJong got the lead-off man to line out to SS Thomas Walker ending the inning. Leading off the bottom of the second, Williams singled up the middle, Irie Elizalde singled to left, and Matt Maccarrone singled to left to load the bases with no outs. Long Beach was ready to break the game open, But two shallow fly outs and a fielders choice ended the threat without allowing a run. This was a big chance that got away but the team kept their heads up and went back to work on defense.
The third inning started with a walk, and a fly out to right fielder Victor Martinez. An attempted steal was thwarted by a strong throw and perfect tag to nail the runner. On the play Walker and the runner collided, with Walker's head striking the runners face. After a few minutes of assistance, the bloodied Taiwan player was helped from the field, and replaced in the line-up. A DeJong strike out of the very dangerous clean-up hitter ended the inning. Long Beach did not fare much better in their half of the inning, as DeWolf reached on an error, only to be doubled up on a liner to short by Walker . An easy grounder to second ended the inning with Taiwan still ahead 1-0.
DeJong was hitting his stride now, and retired the opponents 1-2-3 on two fly balls to second baseman Avery Flores, and another ground out to third. Again, the Beach had difficulty getting on base as all three batters were retired by the shortstop, sending the game to the 5th inning.
Taiwan got a 1 out single to right to bring up the top of the order. But DeJong induced a come backer that was turned into a 1-6-3 double play ending the threat. With the game slowly slipping way, Long Beach needed to make something happen. With one out, Flores reached base on a error, and was erased on a potential double play grounder by Harper. But the throw to first was high, and the ball wound up in the camera well sending Harper to second base. Up stepped 'Mr. Clutch' Daniel DeWolf who singled to left scoring Harper wit the game tying run. A long fly by Walker to the right field fence was caught for the final out of the inning, but the Beach was back in the game.
The 6th was more of the same from DeJong as two more fly outs to Flores, and a grounder to Walker ended the inning quickly. With 4-5-6 hitters in the order up, Long Beach looked to take a lead. Taiwan made a pitching change and brought in our friend Hu Chih Wei to pitch, and he also retired the side 1-2-3.
With one inning left to go before extra innings, and a forced removal of DeJong from the mound, Chase looked to close out the Taiwan offense. But a lead-off walk and a successful sacrifice bunt put a runner at 2nd with one out. A couple of pitches later, the runner stole third where he was quickly driven home on single. The next batter also singled to right, and both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch. With runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out, another wild pitch saw the runners attempt to advance again, but the runner at third changed his mind when a hustling Maccarrone retrieved the ball and recognized that the runner on 2nd had run all the way to 3rd base, while the other runner returned to 3rd. the ensuing pickle resulted in an out at the plate. the batter then lifted an easy pop fly to Walker for the 3rd out, with Taiwan holding a slim 2-1 lead as Long Beach came to bat in the bottom of the 7th.
With only three outs left to use , the Beach responded quickly. Matt Maccarrone laced the first pitch he saw through the 5/6 hole, and the tying run was on base. This was a perfect time to bring up pinch hitter Oliver Van Buskirk to try and drive a ball. He swung at the first pitch and fouled it off, as the LB crowd begged for something good to happen. On the next pitch, they got what they asked for, as Oliver drove a high, long fly towards the fence in right centerfield. the Taiwan outfielder looked like he had a play on the ball. But at the last second he turned and watched the ball carry over the fence for an amazing pinch hit 2 run walk-off homer to give Long Beach the PONY World Series Championship title.
The scene at home plate was surreal as Van Buskirk numbly rounded the bases, tossed away his helmet, and jumped on home plate and into the arms of his exuberant teammates who mobbed him in the traditional championship pile-up of bodies.
The stands were going wild, and I think we heard the cheers from our fans and friends watching at Legends all the way back in PA. Oliver was quickly pulled out from the pile, and after the team handshakes, he was instantly interviewed by the Fox Sports announcers about his amazing feat. The trophy ceremony was held, and the 2008 World Series Championship trophy was presented to manager Ken Jakemer and coaches Rick Romo and Victor Merrill. Then it was time for the family and friends to come on out and take pictures, hug kids, cry a few tears of utter joy, and just plain bask in the moment.
We were bombarded by local fans and Pony officials congratulating us on the victory, and expressing shear joy in the fact that the trophy was staying in the United States. These people have been supporting us throughout our stay in their friendly town, an they seemed as thrilled and excited as our team and family members that we had won.
As we were leaving the field, and returning to the dugout to collect our gear, a PONY official came up and asked for Chase DeJong's and Oliver Van Buskirk's game jerseys. One of which will be sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown for one year, and the other will go on display at the PONY International Headquarters and Hall of Fame in washington, PA (Replacing the Heartwell jersey on display as the last West Zone team to win a World Series title back in 2003). We were then asked to attend the local Independent League Washington Wild Things game later that evening as quests of the club. We wound up taking over 45 people to the game, and the team was introduced out on the field where Oliver 'Walk off' Van Buskirk threw out the first pitch. We stayed a couple of innings before heading out as a team to eat at the Texas Roadhouse, where we had an amazing meal fit for World Champs.
Finally we returned back to the motel where the Taiwan players were milling about. Instantly the teams were together trading shirts, hats, signing autographs for each other and basically enjoying each others company for several hours before the police assigned to watch the motel asked everyone to return to their rooms at midnight.
With little more than 3 and a half hours before the bus trip to the airport, most of the players are planning to stay up. And who can blame them! We will arrive in LA around 11 AM, and will be bused to Whaley Park around 12:00 noon, where we hope to see all of our fans and friends who have been following us through this wonderful and amazing run.
This all-star experience has been an unforgettable journey where the depth and character of this team were major factors in the success we have achieved. Throughout the run, we have had different players step up and make major contributions in each and every tournament. The fact that this team finished with a perfect 15-0 record, while playing many high quality teams, and coming from behind in several critical contest, speaks volumes about the commitment and dedication of the players, coaches, and parents of these young men.
The coming days and weeks will be a whirlwind of activity as the team comes to recognize the magnitude of their accomplishment. They have proudly represented the city of Long Beach, the state of California, the Pony West Zone, and the United States of America, in bringing home the World Championship trophy. They have earned the accolades and recognition that is coming their way, and it has been my privilege and honor to recap the activities of this very, very special group.
Go Long Beach PONY - World Champs!
2008 WORLD SERIES SUPPORTERS
The Long Beach PONY All-Stars wish to thank
the following supporters of our 2008 World Series run.
We could not have done it without them:
Mike Sieckert - 2008 Long Beach PONY President
Denise Bunney - PONY Region Director
Patrick Sadler - Director of Baseball Operations, PONY International
Walter Schmidt (SoCal Sportswear) - Uniforms, Shirts, Jackets
Sarah Williams - Local Assistant Team Parent
Denise DeWolf - Local Assistant Team Parent
Sandy Hardy - Local Assistant Team Parent
The Merrill Family - All-Star Sponsors
Mindy McCarthy - All-Star Sponsor
Judy Jakemer - All-Star Sponsor
Broadway Glass - All-Star Sponsor
Lisa Maccarrone - Coaching advice and assistance
Bob Provencher - On-site support and entertainment
The De Jong Family - On-site support
The DeWolf Family - On-site support
The Elder Family - On-site support
The Elizalde Family - On-site support
The Flores Family - On-site support
The Hardy Family - On-site support
The Harper Family - On-site support
The Heavin Family - On-site support
The Holmes Family - On-site support
The Maccarrone Family - On-site support
The Martinez Family - On-site support
The Van Buskirk Family - On-site support
The Walker Family - On-site support
The Williams Family - On-site support
Brian Bialotto - LB Press Telegram Reporter (Outstanding Daily Coverage)
Mark Guardabascio - LBPostSports.com (Best Long Beach Sports Info)
J.J. Fidler - LBPostSports.com (Best Long Beach Sports Info)
Ryan Zumallen - LBPostSports.com (Best Long Beach Sports Info)
Doug Krikorian - LB Press Telegram Columnist (Two wonderful articles!)
Eddy Van Guise - LBTV-8 (Golden Voice and Passionate Support for Long Beach Pony)
Dennis Hunter - Production Coordinator LBTV-8 (Award winning World Champs story)
There are many, many, more people we could list here....and we apologize for any omissions from this list. You are all very much appreciated and a big part of this great journey.
2008 ALL-STAR PRELIMINARY ROUNDS
PONY SECTION TOURNAMENT – LONG BEACH, CA.
July 12 - The Long Beach All-stars faced a tough Lynwood team in their tournament opener, as they sent Soloman Williams to the mound. He responded brilliantly, pitching 5 innings and allowing only 1 run on 56 pitches.
He was supported by an offense that got untracked after dealing with the 'Batter's Box' scandal. The Beach took a 3-1 lead after 3 innings based on consecutive hits by Matt Heavin, Brett Harper, and Daniel DeWolf, and Thomas Walker's RBI double over the CF's head.
The 4th inning saw Long Beach score 8 more times, and put the game away on Irie Elizalde's 2 run blast over the fence in LF. It was solid effort by the team, who must now wait to play against the winner of the Heartwell and Santa Fe Springs game tomorrow.
Our next game is Tuesday at 7:30 PM. Make sure you come on out!
July 15 - The much anticipated Heartwell vs. Long Beach match-up brought out a full house of spectators at Whaley Park on Tuesday night.
Long Beach fans did not have to wait long for good things to happen. Brett Harper led of the game and was hit by the pitch, a Daniel DeWolf single and a walk, loaded the bases with no outs for Thomas Walker. A passed ball scored Harper before Walker drove a long HR to right center for a 4-0 lead. Four more hits in the inning would extend the lead to 6-0 before Heartwell came to the plate.
On the hill for Long Beach was 6'4" Chase DeJong, who got into a bit of trouble after striking out the leadoff hitter, by hitting two batters in a row. But a ground ball and strike out would end the inning with no runs scored.
The second inning got off to a bang when DeJong sent a towering fly, long and far into the left field trees for a solo HR. The next 4 batters all reached base on a error and 3 walks before a pitching change was made. When play resumed, Matt Maccarrone worked a full count before blasting a Grand Slam HR over the CF fence! His hit was immediately followed by Matt Heavin's drive over the fence in left center and the Beach had a commanding 13-0 lead.
Heartwell tried to mount a challenge in the bottom of the 2nd, and pushed across a run before DeJong struck out 2 hitters with runners in scoring position to end the threat. There would be single Long Beach runs in the 3rd and 4th innings to make the score 15-1 as Cody Elder came in to pitch. With 2 outs, Tyler Liedholdt got a hold of one and drove it out for a 2 run HR, but the final out was then recorded on a grounder to Oliver Van Buskirk who threw him out to end the game due to the 10 run mercy rule.
Our next game is Saturday at 10:00 AM against Norwalk for the Section Championship.
July 19 - Long Beach captured the Section Tournament Championship with a 18-7 victory over Norwalk. With the win, LB advances to the Super-Regional in Whittier as the WEST #1 representative.
This game got off to another great start as Ty Provencher took the mound and shut the Norwalk bats down in the first. The Beach bats were hot from the start as Brett Harper singled, Daniel DeWolf doubled him home, and after a walk to Thomas Walker, Soloman Williams and Irie Elizalde would blast HR's. That left the score 5-0 Beach.
After another shutout inning, Williams drove home two more runs to extend the lead to 7-0. Things were looking good, when Norwalk mounted a rally, and with 1 out they got a hit batter, a single, and a walk loading the bases. A high fastball was driven over the wall in left, and the lead was cut to 7-4. Victor Martinez came in and shut down the threat, and Chase DeJong came up to bat in the bottom of the inning and doubled home two more runs to put the Beach up 9-4.
Once again, Norwalk came battling back as they scored 3 more times, and made this a ball game. In the bottom of the 4th, Long Beach would get a single run on Irie's 2nd HR of the game, and that was all. So the call was made for Soloman to come in and close the game down. And he did just that, getting a quick end to the top of the 5th. Back to work offensively, Chase (3B), Thomas (1B), and Soloman (2B) all stroked hits and scored to increase the lead to 12-4.
Soloman completed another scoreless inning on the hill, and up came the batters again. This time Chase blasted a monster 2-run shot, Thomas tripled, Soloman singled him home for his 5th RBI of the game, and Irie smacked another HR (his 3rd of the game) to end the contest at 18-7.
We play again on Tuesday night at 7:30 in Whittier against the SOUTHEAST #2 team - Redlands. Come on out and support us in this very tough Super-Regional.
Congratulations Long Beach players and coaches! Well Done!
PONY SUPER-REGIONAL TOURNAMENT – WHITTIER, CA.
July 22 - The first round of the Super-Regional produced a 'Super' game on Tuesday night as Long Beach battled against a very tough Redlands team. The contest featured two outstanding pitchers matching scoreless innings from the outset. Long Beach sent Soloman Williams out to start, and he proceeded to pitch a masterpiece. Williams pitched 7 shutout innings on 79 pitches, striking out 8 and allowing only 3 hits. Amazingly, when he was done the score was still tied 0-0. That was because Redlands' pitcher Kevin Stevens was equally as impressive through 5 innings, allowing only 2 singles.
However, Redlands made a pitching change in the 6th, and Long Beach showed a bit of life before stranding Brett Harper at third. With one out in the bottom of the 7th, Soloman battled deep in the count, and squibbed an infield single. This brought up Irie Elizalde, who swung and missed at a high fastball, before stepping out and refocusing on the next pitch. It was another high pitch that Irie was ready for, and he smashed a long drive deep down the left field line. The ball bounced off of the base of the fence 335 feet away, as Williams raced all the way home with the winning run, and a thrilling Long Beach victory!
Next up is Anaheim on Thursday night at 7:30 PM. Come on out and get your money's worth of baseball excitement! July 24 - Round 2 at the Super-Regional produced another tremendous game as Anaheim and Long Beach put on a great show for the crowd at York Park. This was a game that found Long Beach in constant trouble from the pressuring Anaheim offense. But they would keep finding ways to escape the danger, and keep the game close. In the end, it was a classic win, and a big character builder.
Long Beach got the ball rolling as Brett Harper singled to open the game, and promptly stole second. Daniel DeWolf doubled into the right centerfield gap, and the Beach had a run on the board and a man on second. Chase DeJong came up and stroked a liner into center field driving home Daniel before the next three batters were retired with Long Beach staking an early 2-0 lead.
Anaheim came out firing themselves, as the lead-off hitter smashed a lead-off triple into the LF gap. Pitcher Chase DeJong was still trying to find his rhythm, as the next batter walked. A strike out restored some order, before a second walk loaded the bases with 1 out. The next hitter hit a sharp grounder that DeWolf dove for and knocked down, before throwing him out at first for the second out, as the run scored from 3rd on the play. Chase then struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Long Beach went down easily in the second 1-2-3, and Anaheim came right back with their second lead-off double of the game. A bunt single put runners at the corners with no outs, and a walk loaded the bases again. This time, a passed ball allowed the runner to score the run from 3rd to tie the game. With runners at 2nd and 3rd and no out, Chase dug deep and got the lead-off hitter to pop up to second. But, he then proceeded to hit the next batter, loading the bases yet again, as the #3 hitter stepped up. Chase got ahead in the count, and got a sharp grounder to SS Thomas Walker, who threw to Dewolf for one, over to Soloman Williams for two on a nice dig. That would end the second inning with the score tied 2-2.
And so it would stay as Long Beach was unable to muster much of a threat through the 5th inning. Meanwhile, Chase was battling every inning to keep the Anaheim bats from inflicting serious damage. He struck out the side in the 3rd, and started the 4th with another K. But a walk, a diving stop and throw out by Walker up the middle on a grounder, and another walk put runners at 1st and 3rd with 2 outs. Again, Chase found a way out by striking out the #3 batter to end the inning.
The Houdini act would last one more inning, as the 5th came and Chase took the mound . He got a quick out before a single to left, a fielder choice ground out, and a hit batter put 2 more runners in scoring position. But DeJong's 8th and final strike out of the game ended the threat.
The Beach had Daniel DeWolf warming up in the bullpen, as the offense came to bat in the top of the 6th. Chase led off, and after fouling off a few 3-2 pitches he worked a walk. Thomas Walker stepped up and hit a sharp grounder to second that was flipped to short for 1 out, but that was all they would get. Walker stole second, and Soloman moved him to third with a grounder to second. That brought up Irie Elizalde, who stroked a line drive double down the left field line scoring Walker with the go ahead run. Matt Maccarrone followed that with a double into the right center gap, and the lead was 4-2. A pitching change was made and a strike out ended the inning.
DeWolf took the mound for Long Beach in the bottom of the 6th, and proceeded to throw 4 straight balls to the #9 batter. But he found his curve, and struck out the next hitter for 1 out. The next hitter grounded to short, who threw to second, but the relay to first was in the dirt. With two outs, Daniel induced an inning ending grounder to Thomas.
In the 7th, with one out Brett was hit on the elbow, and took first base. He was promptly thrown out on a steal attempt, before Daniel smacked another hit. But the inning would end with a strike out, as we headed to the bottom of the 7th.
Anaheim opened the inning with a single, before DeWolf recorded a strike out and flagged a come backer for the second out. However, a four pitch walk would bring the winning run to the plate. Daniel reached back and got another grounder to short, where Thomas calmly fielded it and threw to first to end the game, and push Long Beach another step forward in the winners bracket.
This game was another tremendous contest against a very good team. These are important games to play in, and even more so to come away with a victory in. Let's get ready for the next one.
Next up is Emerald on Sunday afternoon 3:00 PM. Come on out and get more than your money's worth of baseball excitement!July 27 - With one game left to go before the winner's bracket championship game, Long Beach came out ready to play! They were facing an Emerald team that boasted a 12-1 record, and had not allowed more than 4 runs in any all-star game all year. Emerald won the toss, and elected to be the Home team, so the Beach went on offense.
Brett Harper got the ball rolling with a single to open the game. Daniel DeWolf singled into right centerfield, but a hesitant Harper was thrown out trying to advance to third. With two outs, DeWolf hustled home on a passed ball, and the Beach had a 1-0 lead. Soloman Williams took the mound for Long Beach, and started off nicely with a strike out and long foul fly out to Irie Elizalde in left field. The next batter singled to left, before Victor Martinez ran down a liner to right to end the inning.
Pitching and defense kept the game close for the next few innings and the score remained 1-0, heading into the 4th inning. But then the Beach came out swinging as Chase DeJong tripled into left centerfield, Thomas Walker singled him home, and Williams singled home Walker.
In the bottom of the 4th, Emerald tried to shake things up with a bunt, but 3B Matt Heavin charged and pounced on the airborne attempt for a great catch and out. Another ground out to DeWolf, and a fly ball to Martinez ended the inning. That marked 10 batters in a row that were retired by Williams at this point in the game.
In the 5th, DeWolf singled home Heavin who had singled earlier, and in the 6th Elizalde would double home Williams to extend the lead to 5-0. Meanwhile, Williams was still in control of the game, and completed the 6th inning having thrown just 69 pitches, while striking out 6 and allowing only 4 hits.
In the 7th, Long Beach would put things away as they strung together a Harper single, a DeWolf double, a DeJong single, a Walker smash for an error, a Williams single, and sacrifice fly's by Elizalde and Jake Hardy to score 4 more times to make the score 9-0. Lefthander Cody Elder came in to pitch the 7th, and retired the side without allowing a run to preserve the shutout win for Williams.
This was a solid performance and one that we are all very proud of. The spawn of Sarah Williams was superb this evening, and dominated the game from the beginning. The stellar Long Beach defense set the tone early, and kept making the plays. And finally, we saw some life come to the bats that have been silenced somewhat over the previous couple games, as we stroked 11 hits in the game.
Our next game is against the host team Whittier for the Super-Regional Championship (and a direct berth to the Zone Tournament) on Tuesday evening at 7:30 PM.
Come on out and help cheer our way to the championship!July 29 - Long Beach Pony came out against the host Whittier team for the Region Championship on Tuesday evening at York Park, with a simple plan to get an early lead and rely on their pitching and defense to keep the game under control. However, the execution of that plan did not go as smoothly as diagramed out on paper.
The Beach sent Chase DeJong out to the bump for the big game, and he got things started by showing the Whittier team that they had a very difficult road ahead. He struck out the first three batters of the game with an over-powering fastball. In the bottom of the first, Daniel DeWolf drew a walk and stole second base, before Thomas Walker singled him home with the first run of the game. As the inning ended, Long Beach had an early 1-0 lead.
In the second, things went astray with DeJong's control, and Whittier mounted a rally. After a pair of hit batters and a failed force out, Whittier got their first run on a passed ball, tying the score at 1. A base on balls, another hit batter, a sacrifice bunt, and a 2 run single to left scored 4 more runs as Whittier took a 5-1 lead. Ty Provencher was summoned from the pen, and he came on and ended the threat by getting two quick outs to close the inning.
Facing their first deficit of the tournament, the Beach responded the way good teams are supposed to. With one on and one out, Provencher drove a fastball deep to the gap in right center for a triple, scoring the run. Then, with 2 outs, Brett Harper doubled to the gap in left center, DeWolf singled to right, and DeJong doubled to the fence in left center scoring 3 more runs to tie the game up at 5-5, as we reached the end of 2 innings.
Back on the hill in the 3rd, Provencher sent the Whittier hitters down 1-2-3, and then in the bottom of the inning he delivered a clutch 2-out single to score a hustling Jake Hardy all the way from first base. Long Beach led 6-5 after 3.
In the 4th inning, more solid pitching kept the Host team from scoring as Long Beach came up to bat. Oliver Van Buskirk hit a sharp grounder that was booted, allowing him to reach first base. Then the hit parade began: Harper single to center, DeWolf single to right, DeJong bases clearing triple to left, Walker RBI single, Soloman Williams RBI double to left, Irie Elizalde RBI single to right....and Long Beach had extended their lead to 12-5.
The 5th inning saw Provencher give up two quick singles to start the inning. But he would handle a sac bunt nicely, and strike out the next two batters to end the threat. The Beach would add another run in the bottom half, on a Walker double and a Williams infield RBI single. making it 13-5.
Long Beach turned to Van Buskirk to close out the game, and he pitched a quick and easy 1-2-3 inning in the 6th. In the 7th, he gave up a single to start the inning. Then he got tough and struck out the #3 batter, and got a fly out to Harper in center for the second out. The final play of the game was a base hit that struck the base runner in the leg, an immediate out, and the game was over!
Long Beach swept through the 4 games in the very difficult 'Super' Region winners bracket, and now advance to Fullerton where they will compete for the West Zone Championship and a trip to Washington, Pennsylvania and the Pony World Series. This marks the second year in a row that Long Beach has won the Region Championship. Congratulations to Manager Ken Jakemer and Coaches Rick Romo and Victor Merrill for getting this team ready to play at such an exciting level, and Congratulations to all of the wonderful players, parents, and fans that have represented Long Beach so well. Long Beach Pony is proud of you all.
Next up is Utah on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 PM in Fullerton. Come on out and root these boys on to the Zone championship!!
PONY WEST ZONE TOURNAMENT – FULLERTON, CA.
August 2 - The 2008 West Zone tournament got underway as Long Beach faced the Utah representative West Jordan. After the teams were announced and had lined the baselines, the game got underway and the visitors (Long Beach) came up to bat .
It was not a pretty start for the Utah pitcher as he proceeded to walk Brett Harper, and hit Daniel DeWolf and Thomas Walker with pitches, before walking Soloman (Walker) Williams and Irie Elizalde. That worked out to 2 runs across and the bases loaded for Matt Maccarrone. His medium liner back at the pitcher was turned into a double play at 3B, and a fielder choice ended the top of the inning with a disappointing 2 runs.
Assigned with the task of pitching the opening game against Utah, Oliver Van Buskirk came out focused and struck out the first hitter. However the next batter gamely wore a 1-2 inside curve ball, and advanced to first. The following hitter worked a bases on balls, and things were a bit concerning as action stirred in the bullpen. But Van Buskirk took over from there and struck out the next two hitters, standing the runners and end the inning with Long Beach up 2-0.
In the 2nd inning, Van Buskirk led off by being hit by the pitch. Matt Heavin smacked a grounder to the third baseman, who threw and forced the runner at second. After a Heavin steal, Harper doubled down the left field line for an RBI, then DeWolf followed that with a walk, and Walker and Williams both singled. The score would end 6-0 as we wend to the bottom of the 2nd.
Van Buskirk picked up where he left off, striking out the first two hitters of the inning before again putting two runners on base as two walks to the 8 and 9 hitters brought up the top of the order. But a perfectly executed pick-off from Van Buskirk to Walker at second caught the runner napping, and the inning ended with no runs being scored by Utah.
The third inning produced more Long Beach action as Victor Martinez led off with a walk. An Avery Flores single and a Harper single scored a run, and DeWolf's sacrifice fly to right brought home another. With two outs, Walker would single home a run, and Williams would single home a run of his own as the lead extended to 10-0.
Taking the mound in the bottom of the 3rd was Brett Harper. The long dormant pitcher came on and got a quick bunt come backer, which he fielded and threw to first for the out. But the next two batters would reach base on walks, as Harper struggled to find the plate. Two quick balls to the next batter, brought the manager out to the mound for a quick reminder to 'throw the ball over the plate and let your defense help you out....or else'. That seemed to get Brett's attention as he found the zone and struck out the batter on the next 3 pitches. The next batter popped the ball up to Harper for the final out of the inning.
The 4th and 5th innings were non-eventful from a Long Beach offensive perspective, except for a Martinez single that was erased on a Cody Elder double play liner. But on the defensive side, Harper was starting to have fun again...and he was hitting his spots. He induced an easy grounder to short, and then struck out back to back batters to end the 4th. In the 5th, Harper would strike out the leadoff man, allow a walk, a pop up to short, and then strike out the last batter of the game.
Long Beach pitchers threw a great game, as Oliver and Brett both recorded 5 strike outs while not allowing a single hit in the entire game. Great job guys!
Next up is Tucson, Arizona on Sunday at 5:00 PM in Fullerton. Come on out and root these boys on to the Zone championship!!August 3 - The second round of the Zone tournament found Long Beach with an assortment of concerns entering play against a very strong Tucson, AZ team. As game time approached, Manager Ken Jakemer was faced with a terribly sick starting pitcher and shortstop with a severe migraine headache, as he made out various line-up cards to handle the potential available roster.
Taking the field to start the game for Long Beach was a very courageous Soloman Williams, who hours earlier was sick at home and resting. His desire to be on the field, allowed him to get on the mound and retire the side without allowing a hit, thanks to a great diving catch by Avery Flores. Long Beach came up to bat and Brett Harper got things going with a single. But he was quickly erased on the back-end of a failed bunt pop-up double play. A single by Thomas Walker just added to the pain of the previous play, and Long Beach missed an opportunity when the weakened Williams struck out to end the inning.
Heading out to the mound for the second inning proved to be more than Soloman could handle, and he exited the game...and the park, as he went home to rest and recover. So the emergency call to the bullpen was answered again by Ty Provencher, who came in and got a quick ground out to Flores for 1 out. After back-to-back singles, Tucson bunted the runners over for the second out as the top of the order came up. On a 1-0 pitch, catcher Matt Maccarrone fired a strike to Daniel DeWolf at third for an inning ending pick-off. On offense, the Beach was having difficulty making solid contact against the AZ pitcher, and the 2nd ended tied 0-0.
The third inning saw Provencher record two more quick outs, before a 3-2 fastball was hit for a double. But Ty made some great pitches and got the next batter to ground out, stranding the runner at second. Back on the offensive, DeWolf ripped a one-out single, and Walker walked. But the inning ended with a fielder's choice and strike out.
Working his third inning of the game, Ty started off by getting a long fly out to centerfield, then a single put a runner on base. But Ty was in a groove and struck out the next batter, and then got an easy pop up to shut the door. Trying to make something happen, Long Beach got a single by Maccarrone down the left field line. On a 2-2 pitch to Victor Martinez, Matt took off stealing, but slipped half-way there. The easy out was followed by ball 4 to Victor, and Flores delivered his second hit of the game (a high infield chopper). Unfortunately, no runners would score then or afterward as the next hitters went down meekly.
On to the 5th, as Provencher remained in the game. He was greeted by a leadoff single, which was followed by a sharp line drive right at DeWolf who snagged it and fired to Matt Heavin at first to double up the runner. The lead-off batter stepped up and lofted a long fly ball to leftfield that was misplayed into a double. Again, Provencher worked a full count and tried to throw the fastball, but it was smacked for a double and Arizona had the first run of the game. The inning ended on a nice running catch by Martinez in leftfield. The Beach appeared down as they came to bat, and the meat of the order went down weakly 1-2-3, failing to hit the ball out of the infield.
In the sixth inning, Tucson came out looking to finish the job as they doubled off the fence in left field. A call was made to the bullpen for Oliver Van Buskirk, who came on for Ty. On the first pitch he threw, a long fly ball was driven to centerfield, where Harper ran it down with a great catch going away. The next batter drove a high fastball where even Harper couldn't get to it, over the fence for a 2 run HR, and a 3-0 lead. The inning would end without further damage from a single, a fly out to right, and another fly to Harper in CF. Really facing adversity, the Beach made two more quick outs before Van Buskirk came up for the first time. He found a pitch in his wheelhouse, and smashed a long HR over the fence in left giving Long Beach some life, and cutting the lead to 3-1. Flores came up and single, before Heavin drove another fly ball deep to left. But this one stayed in the park and the inning way over.
The 7th inning featured the top of the order for each team, as AZ came to bat. Feeding off the adrenaline from his HR, Oliver struck out the first two batters before walking the next one, bringing up the clean up hitter. Again, another call was made to the bully, and this time DeWolf answered. His 4 pitch strikeout ended the threat, and gave LB one more chance at the game.
With their tournament chances hanging in the balance, Long Beach supporters and players got up and got vocal. Brett led off by smacking the first pitch into centerfield for a single. Next up, Daniel drove a ball into the gap in left center for a double, and the Beach had the tying runs at 2nd and 3rd with no outs. As Thomas strode to the plate, the Tucson coach went to the mound to strategize. After keeping the ball away from him early in the count, they came in with a strike and then Thomas fouled off a fastball as the count worked it's way to 3-2. The next pitch was a curve, one that had been very effective all game long. But Walker waited perfectly on the ball and drove a screaming line drive to centerfield that landed for a single, and bounced by the center fielder to the fence. Both runs scored as Thomas slid in head first with a triple. A pitching change was made, as Provencher came up with a chance to win the game. With the infield in, Ty attacked the first pitch he saw and lofted a fly over the first baseman's head for a single, and the game winning RBI.
Long Beach had come back against a very solid team, when so many factors were working against them. This was a tremendous TEAM victory, and absolutely the type of games teams must win to keep playing in the PONY tournament. We hope for a speedy recovery by the members of the team currently in sick bay.
Next up is a return match against Tucson, Arizona on Monday at 6:30 PM in Fullerton. Come on out and root these boys on to the Zone championship!!August 4 - And on the third day, there was neck pain. Lots of it.
When the Long Beach players arose from their joyful dreams of the night before, at least one neck was out of whack. Left fielder Irie Elizalde joined the list of players under the weather, even after a busy day of chiropractors and massage therapy. Lump that along with a still visibly ailing Soloman Williams, and a semi-concussed Matt Maccarrone...and it was apparent that this would be another gut check TEAM game.
The coaches decided to put the ball in Brett Harper's hands for this big game, and they also inserted Jake Hardy into the line-up to catch, sending Maccarrone to left field replacing Elizalde in the starting line-up.
Once again, Long Beach won the toss and chose to be the home team. The Tucson team had to play an earlier game against Utah, and won 7-3 to reach this game. As play got underway, Harper showed he was ready to battle by retiring them 1-2-3 on only 10 pitches. In the bottom of the 1st, Harper got things going with sharp single to left. Daniel DeWolf followed that with a triple into the gap in right center scoring Harper with the first run of the game. Thomas Walker, still feeling the effects of his migraine headache from the night before, worked a great at bat before scoring DeWolf from 3rd with a ground out to short. After a strike out, Matt M. drove his own triple into the right center field alley, but he would be stranded there as the Beach took an early 2-0 lead.
In the second, Harper got ahead on the clean-up hitter, but left a breaking ball over the plate and it was driven to center for a hit. After a fly out to center, and successful(?) steal attempt, the next hitter drove a double to left scoring the run. An easy ground out to Avery Flores at 2B for the second out advanced the runner to third and brought up the #8 hitter. Harper induced an easy ground ball, but it was bobbled and another run had scored. With the game tied, Harper got the next hitter to send an easy fly ball to right field...but it too was booted, and Tucson had two men on as the top of the order came back up to bat. After getting behind in the count, an elevated change-up was really elevated...over the wall in left field for a 3 run HR and Long Beach was down 5-2. Harper stayed calm, and got the last out on another fly to right that was caught.
Having to respond, and quickly, the bottom three in the order came up and produced. A single by Hardy, a single by Matt Heavin, and a solid single by Flores brought up the top, where Harper joined in with a sharp single to drive in a run. DeWolf forced in a run with a base on balls, and a pitching change was made with the score 5-4, bases loaded an nobody out. Things were looking good as Walker stepped to the plate. But the pitcher used an assortment of pitches to strike him out. He did the same to Williams. And he finished off the inning by doing the same thing to Maccarrone. A very disappointed LB team returned to the field to start the 3rd inning, down 5-4.
But Harper was not giving up, and he kept working as he got a ground out to second, and a liner to first for two quick outs. The next hitter would smack a single to left, but the inning ended on a fielder choice grounder to Flores who flipped it to Walker in time. On offense, the Beach tried to get the rally started again, but a sinking liner by Martinez was ruled a catch? Really? A solid single to left by Hardy, a long fly out by Heavin, and a walk to Flores brought Harper up with runners on base. But his sharp one hopper to first was held on for the out, ending the 3rd.
In the 4th , the bottom of the Tucson order faced Harper. A grounder to second was misplayed, and the leadoff man was aboard. Harper took care of that himself, by picking the runner off at first for 1 out. The next hitter singled to right and advanced to second on a blocked ball. Harper got another fly to centerfield for the second out ...bringing up the top of the order again. With a 2-1 count on the very dangerous lead-off man, Walker and Harper executed a perfect pick-off play at second, to end the inning.
The momentum from the big plays did not translate into offense in the bottom of the 4th, as the Beach wasted a Walker single, before meekly ending the inning on a double play.
The Tucson top of the order was waiting for Harper in the 5th, but Brett was dealing now. He struck out the lead-off man looking at strike three, and got the next hitter to also go down swinging. A brief lapse in control turned into a walk, before the final out was made on a 0-2 ground out to Williams at first.
The bottom of the 5th started out with a solid single by Maccarrone, and a sharp grounder by Martinez that was booted allowing Maccarrone to advance to third. Up stepped Hardy, and Coach Romo gave him the squeeze sign. A perfectly placed bunt scored the run, tying the game. Oliver Van Buskirk entered the game to pinch hit, Tucson obviously remembered his last hit (HR), and he walked on 4 pitches. Flores came to the plate and grounded a ball to second, who went to SS for one, and that was all. There were two outs, with runners on the corners...as the Tucson coach went to the mound. The Beach runners and coaches huddled and plotted their strategy, 'Give Harper 2 strikes, and then try an early steal'. Play resumed, and Harper swung and missed at strike one. A ball was thrown, and then a called strike on the outside corner put the count at 1-2. Flores took the lead at first, and Martinez edged of the base at third as the pitcher took his sign. As he began his motion and came set, Flores bolted for second base eliciting screams of 'Step off' from the Tucson infield. The pitcher reacted and stepped off and whirled to throw to second, as Martinez sprinted towards home plate. The throw to second was just a bit off line, as Avery slid head first under the tag, and the run crossed home plate uncontested to give Long Beach a 6-5 lead. Harper would foul off a couple more strikes before flying out to center field to end the inning.
In the top of the 6th, with the lead and only 2 innings to go, Coach Jakemer called on Daniel DeWolf to close down the game. He was greeting by a quick single up the middle. Unfazed, DeWolf proceeded to strike out the next two hitters, before a single to center put two runners on base. Calmly, DeWolf would work out of it striking out the #9 hitter ending the inning. The Beach tried to pad the lead, and came out stroking line drives. However DeWolf's bid was juggled for a catch, Walker's sinking liner was caught on the dive by the center fielder, before Soloman beat out a single. The inning ended there with a strike out, as the Beach headed back out to the field for the 7th inning.
Once again, Tucson sent their top batters up to start the inning. DeWolf kept throwing his nasty curve and struck out the lead-off man looking. He got the next hitter to strike out on a pitch in the dirt, as Hardy properly blocked the ball and threw the runner out at first. The final batter drove a 0-2 curve ball high and far into center field, but Harper got underneath it for the catch, and Long Beach had a tremendous 6-5 win.
Again, this team came through when it had to. They battled a very well coached, talented baseball team the past two games, and are extremely fortunate to come away with these wins. Despite making 5 errors in the game, and seeing countless breaks go the other way, this was a victory for the entire TEAM to be proud of.
Next up is the Zone Championship Game against the winner of tomorrow's Victoria / Hawaii game at 6:30 PM. The Championship Game is on Wednesday at 6:30 PM.
Come on out and root these boys on to the Zone championship!!August 6 - It all came down to one single game to decide the West Zone Championship, and a trip to Pennsylvania, and the PONY World Series. On one side stood the undefeated Long Beach All-stars (10-0), vying to reach the pinnacle event for the second year in a row. On the other side was Riverside Victoria, the Super-Region runner-up, and a team riding a big wave of momentum, following their back-2-back wins over Hawaii. The setting was perfect and the stands were filled beyond capacity as the teams were introduced.
With a healthy line-up for the first time in days, Long Beach sent pitcher Soloman Williams to the mound. He started out a bit rusty as the lead-off man drew a walk. After falling behind to the next hitter, he delivered a strike that was driven to the fence in right center for a double, driving in the first run of the game. But that would be all, as Williams retired the next three hitters easily as the Beach came to bat in the bottom of the 1st.
Starting the inning off, Brett Harper jumped on a 0-2 fastball and doubled down the line in left. Daniel DeWolf's sharp singled moved him to third, where Thomas Walker would drive him home with another single. Williams followed with a walk to load the bases bringing up Irie Elizalde with nobody out. Irie's 2-2 smash down the left field line scored 2 more runs, before Victoria made a pitching change with the score 4-1 Long Beach. Another run would score on a passed ball, before the inning would end with a solid 5 runs.
Victoria was unable to muster any offense against Williams in the 2nd, going down 1-2-3. Back up to bat, Long Beach battled back as Walkers reached base on a 2-out single. Williams laced a single to left that scored Walker, and Matt Maccarrone singled home Williams to increase the lead to 7-1, after 2 innings.
However, Victoria was not going to go quietly. They strung together 4 consecutive singles with 1-out, scoring 1 run and threatening to score more. The next batter hit another sharp grounder towards the 5-6 hole that luckily hit the base runner for the 2nd out. The next batter lined the ball right at DeWolf at third for the final out, and a minor escape for the Beach.
This time Long Beach did not mount much of an attack, as the inning ended 7-2. Again, Victoria came roaring back with a walk, and 3 straight 1-out singles, to plate 2 more runs. A fly ball out to left for the second out brought up the #3 hitter, who singled sharply to left, where Elizalde scooped up the ball and threw a strike to Maccarrone at the plate to nail the runner to end the inning. The game was getting tighter as the lead was down to 7-5.
Again, the Long Beach bats failed to produce enough to score, wasting an Elizalde double in the inning. Williams again took the mound in the 5th, and got into a quick rhythm, striking out the clean-up hitter to begin the inning. However a single and a double would score a run, and put the tying run at 2nd. LOng Beach called on Daniel DeWolf to come close the door, and he complied by getting a long fly out to Harper in center and a pop foul out to first.
With a tiny 7-6 lead and momentum on Victoria's side, the Beach found themselves with two outs and a runner on first as the top of the order came up. A passed ball sent Flores to second, and Victoria chose to walk the dangerous Harper to face DeWolf. (The coaching staff was very happy with this development). With a 2-0 count, DeWolf jumped on a fastball away and drove it over the right fielders head to drive in both runs, and give Long Beach some huge insurance runs.
In the top of the 6th, DeWolf gave up a lead-off double, and then two fly ball outs, before a single brought the tying run to the plate in the cleanup hitter. Not to worry, as DeWolf struck him out to end the threat, and put Long Beach three outs away from a return trip to Pennsylvania. Before they could do that, they had to bat.....and Williams led off with a single, and Elizalde was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. A fielders choice and pop out put runners at first and third with 2 away. The coaches called the delayed steal, and this time Ty Provencher played the part perfectly, stopping and getting in a pickle as Williams stole home with another rune. The Beach was now up 10-6, as they headed to the 7th.
DeWolf came out throwing strikes, and the first batter hit a laser up the middle that was snagged by DeWolf for the out. The next hitter flew out easily to Harper in center, before a single and an error turned up the stress meter a few notches...but a grounder to Walker at short was fielded cleanly for the final out and Long Beach was the West Zone Champion for the second year in a row.
We played a solid game, and held on when the very strong Victoria team cut it to a 1 run game. Daniel DeWolf stepped up and continued his clutch run on the mound and at the plate. Soloman Williams battled into the 5th with a lead, and also delivered clutch hits to support his cause. We get on a plane on Friday to fly to Pennsylvania, so check back with us from there!
Thanks for all of the support and well wishes from the friends, families, and fans of this exciting team. Go Long Beach!
2007 PONY WORLD SERIES RUNNERS-UP - LONG BEACH PONY at WHALEY PARK
2007 WORLD SERIES SUPPORTERS
DAILY WORLD SERIES RECAP
The Long Beach PONY All-Stars wish to thank
the following supporters of our 2007 World Series run.
We could not have done it without them:
Steve Hyde - 2008 Long Beach PONY President Elect
Claudia & Larry Buckle - Team Mom / Coach / Fan Support
Julie Sparks - Team Laundry / Hotel Team Mom
Athena Troutman - Team Laundry / Travel Coord.
Laura & Chris Romo - Fan Support / Coach
Denise Bunney - PONY Region Director
Walter Schmidt (SoCal Sportswear) - Uniforms, Shirts, Jackets
Chris & David Ahumada - Special Projects / Fan Support in PA
Cecily & Bob Seabourne - Scorekeeping / Fan Support in PA
Lori & Rob Miladinovich - Gift Procurement / Fan Support in PA
Pam & Dave Allred - Fan Support in PA
Joan & Jim Hubbard - Fan Support in PA
Matt Treece & Tracy Lopez - Fan Support in PA
Gina Tucker - Fan Support in PA
Jane Cordero - Fan Support in PA
Alisa & Gary Getz - Team Mom / Fan Support in PA
Erickson Family - Fan Support in PA
John & Cora Merola - Fan Support in PA
Denise & Daniel DeWolf - Local Webcast Listening Parties
Diane & Harry Thomas - Fan Support in PA
There are many, many, more people we could list here....and we apologize for any omissions from this list. You are all very much appreciated and a big part of this great journey.
THE JOURNEY BEFORE THE WORLD SERIES....AN EPIC ADVENTURE BY ITSELF
PONY SECTION TOURNAMENT – NORWALK, CA. Game 1: 7/14 - Long Beach 5, Norwalk 3 Sat, July 14 - The Long Beach 14 year old ALL STARS started play in the section tournament against the host team on Saturday morning. Norwalk (which won the PONY World Series in 2002) fielded a talented team and had the home field advantage from the beginning, starting out with the coin toss for home team.
Things got off well for the Beach in the first inning, as runners were positioned at 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. However, they were left stranded, as the next two hitters were retired easily. Long Beach sent Chris Hubbard to the mound, where he took command early and retired the side in order on only 9 pitches. The next inning started with a Taylor Sparks single to left, but he would be erased on the bases in the first of several running breakdowns that would occur. After another scoreless offensive inning, Hubbard went back out and retired the side in order again, this time on an economic 13 pitches.
Things got started quickly in the 3rd inning as leadoff man Sean Buckle singled to right, and then moved to third on a textbook hit-and-run single by Spencer Troutman. After a walk to Hubbard, a wild pitch plated Buckle with the first run of the game, moving the runners to 2nd and 3rd. With one out, Dylan Romo drove a sac fly to left scoring Troutman, but Hubbard was caught off second base for the final out of the inning. With the lead, Hubbard confidently went out and struck out the side. After 3 innings the scoreboard showed Long Beach 2, Norwalk 0.
With momentum on their side, the Beach kept the pressure on as Sparks led off the inning with a monster HR drive over the left field fence. With one out, Preston Allred earned a walk and was bunted over by Matt Treece, bringing up Buckle. On the first pitch, Sean drove a base hit through the left side driving in Allred. He would then score on a fly to right by Troutman that was dropped for an error, before the inning would end with a score of 5-0. Out to the mound strode Hubbard, where he retired the first two hitters before issuing a walk to break the string of 11 consecutive batters retired at the start of the game. He then struck out the clean-up hitter to retire the side.
The fifth inning saw Romo and Sparks both reach base after being hit by the pitch, and they advanced to 2nd and 3rd with 1 out...only to be stranded again. The momentum was shifting as Hubbard began the inning with a walk to the lead-off hitter. That runner was forced at second on a nice play by Allred and Treece, before another walk put runners at 1st and 2nd with one out. With a 3-1 count, the Norwalk batter got a pitch to handle, and recorded their first hit of the game, driving in a run. Norwalk would steal the second run of the inning on a botched pick-off attempt, before Hubbard struck out the #9 hitter in the order for the second out. That brought up the top of the order where the lead-off man drew another walk from Hubbard. A pitching change was made, as Walker Getz came in and struck the next batter out to end the threat and keep Hubbard in line for the win.
There were still 2 innings left to play, and the LB offense was unable to produce runs in the 6th. Fortunately, Walker Getz was able to hold Norwalk down in the 6th with little trouble, after a great throw by catcher Romo nailed the base runner trying to steal. On to the seventh where, after a walk to Romo and Sparks third hit of the night, the Beach threatened again. But that rally ended when Romo was thrown out at the plate on a fly ball to left field, ending the inning.
Long Beach turned to Spencer Troutman to close this one out. He started out nervously, by walking the first batter he faced before he found his zone. He struck out the next hitter on three pitches, but made a mistake to the #9 batter who knocked a double into left center field. Surprisingly, the relay from the outfield caught the runner in a pickle between 3rd and home for the out. With two outs, Troutman got ahead 0-2, but left the next pitch over the plate where it was hit for a single, scoring a run. No problem for Troutman, as he induced a come backer from the next batter to end the game. Final score: Long Beach 5, Norwalk 3.
Key players for this game were Chris Hubbard for his solid pitching (W, 5 IP, 1 H, 9 K, 2 ER), Taylor Sparks and his great hitting (3-3, HR, HBP), Spencer Troutman (3-4, Save), and Sean Buckle at the top of the order (2-4, 2 Runs scored). This was a very tough first round game between teams that will be around at the end of this event. Long Beach will play again on Monday evening at 5:00 PM vs. Lynwood. Thanks to all the fans for their support!
Game 2: 7/16 - Long Beach 3, Lynwood 0 Mon, July 16 - The next round of play featured a game against Lynwood to reach the winners bracket finals. To start this important game, Long Beach sent Dylan Romo out to the mound. He would not disappoint anyone as he established command of his pitches early, while retiring the side in order to open the game. On offense, things got started when Spencer Troutman singled up the middle and scored on a 2-out single by Alex Campbell. The second inning featured more solid Beach pitching as a lead off runner was left stranded at second base. Taylor Sparks led off the bottom of the inning with a solid single to left, and he moved to third on a nice hit and run single by Stefan Miladinovich. The next batter was Preston Allred, who executed a perfect squeeze bunt to score Sparks with the second run of the game. The inning ended with Long Beach up 2-0.
Romo came out firing in the third and after two quick outs, issued the first walk of the game. The runner was quickly erased by an excellent throw and tag by Troutman to Matt Treece for the final out. After one out, Chris Hubbard roped a solid single to left, and was balked to second. Unfortunately, Hubbard would be out stealing on a 'batter's interference' call. Campbell would walk, but was put out on a force play to stop the threat. In the 4th Romo used a total of 4 pitches to retire the side, while after one out the Beach put runners on 2nd and 3rd after a walk to Miladinovich and a single by Allred. Walker Getz was brought in to pinch hit, but his grounder to short was thrown home where the runner was out trying to score. The inning ended as Getz was caught in a rundown before the runner could score from third. The score remained 2-0, Long Beach.
Rolling right along, Romo retired the side in order in both the 5th and 6th innings, while on offense the Beach scored one more run on a long Chris Hubbard HR to centerfield. As the seventh inning arrived, Troutman was summoned to close the door. After an easy pop-up out, two walks were issued, before Troutman got the hitter to send a bouncer to Campbell at third, who touched the bag and threw to first to end the game.
Long Beach will play Heartwell on Wednesday evening at 7:30 PM. Thanks to all the fans for their support!
Game 3: 7/18 - Long Beach 1, Heartwell 5 Wed, July 18 - The highly anticipated match up between Heartwell and Long Beach started off well as Chris Hubbard took the mound and struck out the side to start the game. Sean Buckle worked a lead-off walk to get the crowd going, but a double play grounder and a strike out ended the inning. Hubbard would continue his sharp pitching in the second as he recorded 3 more K's while stranding runners at 2nd and 3rd. The Beach got rolling to start the 2nd with an Alex Campbell single that fell untouched in short left field. Pat Merola pinch ran, and scored the first run of the game on a ground out by Dylan Romo. Stefan Miladinovich singled, but was thrown out trying to steal to end the inning with the Beach up 1-0.
Things turned ugly in the third. After striking out the first batter of the inning, Hubbard would experience some control issues. An errant pitch hit the next batter in the back sending him to first base. Fortunately, catcher Spencer Troutman rifled a strong pick-off throw to nail the runner for the second out. But the next three batters would all get free passes to load the bases. Again, Walker Getz was asked to come into a tight jam in a crucial moment. Assuming a 2-0 count, Getz induced the batter to hit a little bouncer up the line, which was not fielded cleanly, allowing a run to score. Sure enough, the very next pitch was lined into left driving in two more runs before the next batter was retired on strikes. The momentum had clearly swung to the other side and the Beach needed to pick up their offense.
On the other side of the field, Heartwell's Tyler Maxwell was getting stronger and throwing strikes as Long Beach struggled to mount a challenge. The result was an easy 1-2-3 third inning. So going to the 4th inning we had a score of Heartwell 3, Long Beach 1. With Getz taking the hill again, the control problems continued to plague the Beach. Two consecutive walks brought on another pitching change as Miladinovich came in and pitched well. Only a 2-strike bloop single over the infield marred his performance, allowing the 4th run to score.
The 5th inning saw Taylor Sparks hit a rocket ground rule double, but that was all for the Beach. Miladinovich threw a perfect 1-2-3 fifth inning, and led off the bottom with a solid line drive to center field, but it was right at the outfielder for the out. Matt Treece's second walk of the game, and Buckle's perfect 2-out bunt single brought the tying run to the plate in Troutman, but his fly was caught to end the threat.
Taking the mound for LB in the sixth was Tyler Erickson. The first batter he faced reach base on a little infield chopper, but Tyler erased him moments later with a great pick-off move to Hubbard for the out. A walk and a fielder’s choice resulted in 2 outs and a runner at 2nd, when another 2-strike blooper landed in the exact same spot to drive home another run. The bottom of the 6th started off with a walk to Hubbard, which forced a Heartwell pitching change. A fly out to left by Campbell and a line out to right field that turned into a double play ended the inning.
The final frame went quickly enough as Erickson pitched a solid 1-2-3 inning, but the Beach could only muster up a solid double by Drew Ahumada, before the final out was recorded giving Heartwell the Tournament Championship.
Long Beach will play on Thursday (7/19) evening at 5:00 PM vs. Lynwood for the final spot in the Regional tournament. Thanks to all the fans for their support!
Game 4: 7/19 - Long Beach 7, Lynwood 0 Thu, July 19 - In a do-or-die situation against Lynwood, the Beach turned to Taylor Sparks to lead the way, and he delivered in a big way. Playing for the final spot in the Regional tournament, Long Beach wanted to get out to a quick start. And for the third game in a row, the Beach won the coin toss for home team, and took the field in front of an estimated crowd of 110 people.
Sparks was eager to show his stuff in his first appearance on the hill this tournament, and started strong with a K before walking the next batter. Staying calm, Sparks got ahead on the next hitter, and on a steal attempt Spencer Troutman threw out the base runner at second. One pitch later, the inning was over as the batter swung and missed at strike three. On offense, the Beach got a nice single by Troutman and Chris Hubbard was hit by the pitch, to put two runners on, but Alex Campbell grounded into a double play ending the threat.
The second inning featured two more Sparks strike outs, but Long Beach went down 1-2-3 on offense. Sparks would go on to retire Lynwood in order to start the 3rd, as Long Beach came up to bat in the bottom of the inning. Starting with a single by Preston Allred and an infield grounder by Matt Treece, the Beach had 2 runners on base with 1 out, as Troutman came up to bat again. His single would drive home Allred with the first run of the game. The next batter was Sparks, who patiently sat back on a curve and crushed a long 3-run home run to deep centerfield. The inning would end with Long Beach up 4-0 over Lynwood.
With the lead and a lot of confidence, Sparks returned to the mound and retired the side in order again. Leading off the 4th inning, Dylan Romo drove a blast to centerfield that cleared the fence, for a solo HR, but that would be all as the inning would end with a 5-0 score. Romo then took the mound in relief of Sparks, and recorded two quick outs, before three consecutive singles loaded the bases. The lead-off hitter came up and, after working the count full, hit a line drive off the knee of Romo. The stunned pitcher managed to grab the loose ball and threw the batter out before collapsing on the field and needing assistance. Thankfully, the inning was over and Romo would come out and get some ice treatments.
The sixth inning saw Hubbard return to the mound in relief of Romo. He would face 3 batters, getting them all out on only 10 pitches. The last Long Beach at bats came in the 6th, and two quick outs were recorded. But Drew Ahumada's hard single started a rally, and Troutman would follow with his 4th hit of the game to keep it going. Up strode Sparks who drilled an RBI single to left. Walker Getz worked a walk, and Hubbard came up with bases loaded. He swung mightily on the first pitch, and drove a hard single through the 5-6 hole to score Troutman with the final tally of the night. Hubbard worked an eventful 7th, but ended the game by getting the last two outs while leaving the bases loaded.
The final score was 7-0, and resulted in the Beach advancing to the Regional Tournament starting July 28, in Glendora. Long Beach will play on Saturday (7/28) evening at 7:30 PM vs. Glendora. Thanks to all the fans for their support! PONY REGION TOURNAMENT – GLENDORA, CA.
Game 5: 7/28 - Long Beach 10, Glendora 0 Sat, July 28 - LONG BEACH WINS OPENING GAME AT REGIONAL TOURNEY - Our 14 All-stars came out strong to open the Glendora Regional tournament late Saturday night against the Host team. Chris Hubbard threw a complete game 10-0 shutout victory, and added the key hit of the game (a bases loaded double over the CF's head in the first inning). With the victory, Long Beach advances to play Azusa.
The park is about a 30 minute drive from LB, and is a great facility to watch our boys continue their run through the PONY tournament. We would love to have our fans out there in big numbers. See you at the game.
Game 6: 7/29 - Long Beach 7, Azusa 0 Sun, July 29 - TROUTMAN PITCHES GEM AGAINST AZUSA AS 14'S ADVANCE TO WINNERS FINAL - The Long Beach players, coaches and fans waited until 9:15 to actually start the game, but it was well worth the wait, as Spencer Troutman put on a great display of pitching command in the Beach's 7-0 win over Azusa.
The win moves Long Beach into the winner’s bracket final against West Hills, a 10-8 winner over Camarillo, on Tuesday evening at 7:30 PM. This one should get off on time, so come on out and support the guys as they continue to play solid Long Beach baseball.
Game 7: 7/31 - Long Beach 1, West Hills 0 Tue, July 31 - HUBBARD LEADS LONG BEACH INTO CHAMPIONSHIP GAME WITH HIS ARM AND HIS BAT, DEFEATING WEST HILLS - For the third game in a row, Long Beach received a tremendous pitching performance to defeat a tough team at the Regional’s in Glendora. Again the Beach turned to Chris Hubbard in a big game, and he delivered a dominant complete game shutout, allowing only one hit while walking two, and finishing up with 15 strike outs. On the other end of the field was a solid pitcher keeping pace throughout.....but one mistake to Hubbard in the bottom of the 4th proved to be one too many, as Hubbard launched a towering drive over the right field fence for a home run, and the only run of the game.
Long Beach would hold on and defeat West Hills, 1-0 in a great game. Sean Buckle had the only other hits for the Beach, stroking a double and triple in the game. We now play on Thursday evening at 5:00 PM, against the winner of Wednesday's game between West Hills and Glendora. Come on out as we try to earn the berth to the Zone Championships in Fullerton.
Game 8: 8/2 - Long Beach 10 West Hills 3 Thu, August 2 - LONG BEACH WINS REGION CHAMPIONSHIPS AND ADVANCES TO PLAY HAWAII ON SATURDAY AT ZONE IN FULLERTON - Completing the task at hand was the focus as Long Beach sent Dylan Romo to the mound to close out the Region Tournament championship against a familiar West Hills team. After a scoreless first inning, Chris Hubbard put the Beach in front with another solo blast over the fence in right field, starting a rally that would see 5 runners cross the plate, the last 2 on a nice double by Spencer Troutman. Those 5 runs would hold up, even though the Long Beach defense was not as sharp as usual.
The shaky defense led to an unearned run in the third, ending the scoreless streak at 29 innings over the past 5+ games. Romo, in his first effort this tournament, was a workhorse. He recorded a complete game victory while allowing 8 hits, 1 earned run, and 8 strike outs. Romo also broke out offensively with two solid doubles, and Taylor Sparks added two shots to centerfield for hits.
Long Beach advances to the Zone tournament in Fullerton at Amerige Field. The first game of the 8 team double elimination tournament is on Saturday at 3:00 PM against the Hawaii representative. Come on out and watch this special team play their hearts out to reach the final level.
PONY ZONE TOURNAMENT – FULLERTON, CA.
Game 9: 8/4 - Long Beach 2, Windward, HI 1 Sat, August 4 - BENCH TIES GAME IN BOTTOM OF SEVENTH, TROUTMAN'S 4TH HIT WINS BATTLE AGAINST HAWAII IN ZONE OPENER - The PONY Zone tournament in Fullerton features the final 8 teams out of over 600 teams in the West Zone. Long Beach drew the toughest first round match-up against Windward PONY, the Hawaii State Champion. The game showcased two strong pitchers, as the Beach sent Chris Hubbard after another tournament win. However, both teams were unable to push any runs across through 6 complete innings.
Hawaii mounted a threat as they moved a runner to 2nd with one out. A high chopping ground ball over the third baseman scored the run, and put Hawaii up 1-0. Spencer Troutman would come in to relieve Hubbard, and stop the opponents from scoring any additional runs. In the bottom of the 7th, Stefan Miladinovich roped a lead-off pinch hit single and Matt Treece bunted him over to second. Coach Rick Romo inserted Drew Ahumada in for Pat Merola, and Drew delivered a base hit down the third base line to tie the game. Merola would run for Drew, and advance to second with two outs. Up stepped Troutman, who smacked a walk-off single to bring home Merola with the game winner.
This was a terrific ball game, and a great character builder for this special team. We play South Sound of Washington at 5:30 PM on Sunday.
Game 10: 8/5 - Long Beach 3, South Sound, WA 1 Sun, August 5 - COMPLETE TEAM VICTORY OVER SOUTH SOUND, WASHINGTON - FEATURING PITCHING, DEFENSE, AND TIMELY HITTING IN 3-1 WIN - The Long Beach All-stars treated their fans to an exciting display of team baseball this evening in a thrilling 3-1 win over South Sound, WA. The Beach sent Taylor Sparks to the mound, and he kept the opposing bats quiet in the first inning. In the bottom of the first, Chris Hubbard got LB on the board with a solo home run, and Sparks followed with a single to drive home Alex Campbell and stake them to a 2-0 early.
The Washington team mounted a threat in the 2nd, scoring an unearned run on a throwing error, and was threatening again in the third. Coach Jakemer brought in Dylan Romo to shut down the threat, and the inning ended on a tremendous diving stop and throw out by Preston Allred. The Beach bats fell silent for several innings as the pitchers for Washington kept getting solid plays from their defense on hard hit balls. Romo would also hold the opponents from scoring over the next three innings. In the bottom of the sixth, Spencer Troutman led of with a sharp single, and stole second base to get into scoring position for Alex Campbell, who drilled an RBI single through the infield scoring Troutman. Campbell would then steal second base but was unable to score, as the Beach headed to the 7th with a 3-1 lead.
Closing the game for the Beach was Spencer Troutman, who issued a lead-off walk...then picked the runner off of first, before striking out the final two hitters to seal the victory. With the win, Long Beach advances to the winner's bracket final against Anaheim on Tuesday at 5:00 PM! We need a lot of support, especially since Anaheim is very close, and will be fully represented!
Lastly, the Beach bids a very fond farewell to coach Chris Romo, who leaves tomorrow for Texas. He has shaped this team into the disciplined and cohesive unit you have seen playing great baseball the past few weeks, and he will be missed by all of the players and coaches. His influence will not be leaving us, and we will continue to follow his example of dedication and commitment to the goal of playing great baseball. Good luck Chris! We thank you for all of your time and expertise.
Game 11: 8/7 - Long Beach 5, Anaheim 3 Tue, August 7 - LONG BEACH'S 5-3 VICTORY OVER ANAHEIM PUTS THEM ONE VICTORY FROM WORLD SERIES BERTH - In the West Coast Zone winner's bracket final, Long Beach faced a very strong and confident Anaheim team. The Beach players were loose and easy going before the game, which was in stark contrast to everyone else involved with the team from coaches to fans to families. The game started ominously enough as the Anaheim lead-off man greeted Spencer Troutman's second pitch of the game for a sharp double down the line. One out later, the 3rd hitter doubled off the fence in center to give his team the early lead. Troutman would stay focused and strike out the next two hitters to stop the remaining threat. Long Beach needed to answer, and Sean Buckle led off with a walk, followed by Troutman's single to right. A couple of passed balls and a wild pitch brought both runners around to score, before the side was retired, with the Beach up 2-1.
Troutman worked a solid 2nd, and the Beach went right back to work as Dylan Romo led off with a single. But a fielder’s choice, and a back pick at 2nd on a missed bunt emptied the bases with 2 outs, when Preston Allred was hit by the pitch. Up stepped Matt (He's a Beast) Treece, who doubled into the left centerfield gap to score Allred, bringing up Buckle and the top of the order. Buckle sent the second pitch screaming down the 3rd base line doubling home Treece, and LB was up 4-1. The inning ended on a smash liner by Troutman that was speared by the diving first baseman.
Troutman found his groove in the third and struck out the 2, 4 and 5 hitters, while the LB offense would be derailed, after getting 2 singles with 1 out, by a double play grounder to third. The 4th inning saw Anaheim mount their biggest challenge yet as they loaded the bases with 2 outs, before Troutman struck out the batter ending the inning. A 1-2-3 inning for the Beach's offense, led to the top of the 5th, where the meat of the order loomed. A tiring Troutman gamely took the mound, and proceeded to hit the lead-off batter on a 2-2 curve ball. The clean-up hitter took two great cutters for strikes before fouling off a couple fastballs, and the next cutter was up in the zone and was lined into centerfield. The call to the bullpen was answered by Chris Hubbard, who induced a quick pop foul out before three straight flairs fell for hits in the outfield. Two runs would cross the plate before the third out was made at 3B on a great throw by CF Buckle to Romo at third for the tag.
Long Beach came right back again as Buckle led off with a ground rule double to CF. A walk to Troutman and a wild pitch, put runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs, with Hubbard at the plate. He smashed the first pitch down the third base line, where the third baseman made a tough backhanded grab, tagged Buckle, and threw to first to complete the double play. The Beach fans were down, and momentum was swinging back to Anaheim, as Alex Campbell came up with 2 outs and a man on second. Alex jumped on a 2-0 fastball and lined a hit into the LF gap, scoring Buckle with a big insurance run. Taylor Sparks followed with a sharp single, and Romo came up again and drove a liner to right centerfield, but it was snagged on a nice running catch ending the inning. With only 6 outs to go, Hubbard took over. By striking out 2 and getting an easy grounder, the Beach recorded its first 1-2-3 defensive inning of the game. The bottom of the sixth saw LB get a pinch-hit single by Pat Merola, another base running pick-off blunder, and another screaming liner to CF by Buckle that was caught to end the inning.
With the crowd on its feet, Hubbard took the mound in the 7th inning ready face the 3-4-5 hitters from Anaheim. His first pitch was popped up, and Hubbard handled it himself for 1 out. The next hitter went down swinging against Hub's nasty curve, before two flair singles out the tying runs on base. But Hubbard would not let this one slip away, and forced a little fly to second base to end the game, and send Long Beach into the Zone Championship game against Quartz Hills (who would beat Anaheim in the later game of the evening). One victory tomorrow and Long Beach will be heading to Pennsylvania for the World Series. Come on out and support this great team!
Game 12: 8/8 - Long Beach 5, Quartz Hills 3 Wed, August 8 - LONG BEACH IS HEADING TO THE WORLD SERIES AFTER WINNING WEST ZONE TITLE OVER QUARTZ HILLS - In an amazing display of pitching savvy and determination, Long Beach PONY and the left arm of Chris Hubbard defeated Quartz Hills in the championship game of the West Zone tournament at Amerige field in Fullerton. With the win, Long Beach gets on a plane in the morning to fly to Washington, Pennsylvania.
This leaves little time for preparation, so this recap will be shorter than normal until I can get the trip coordinated.
In leading the team to victory, Hubbard pitched a complete game and recorded 15 strike outs in the process. The biggest hit of the game was Spencer Troutman's 2-out, 2-run double in the 6th.
More details to come soon.....plus exciting World Series links and blogs.
THU 8/9 - The team met at Whaley at 5:30 AM this morning, and were shuttled to LAX where they boarded a flight for Atlanta. After a short layover, the team boarded another flight to Pittsburgh, PA. We landed at 6:30 PM EST in the rain, and were bused to our hotel in Washington, PA.....Many of the players and coaches had little or no sleep last night, and today has been a long one. But the excitement of a new town, the pending series, and bunking with your teammates has re-energized the squad......We will be participating in several activities on Saturday, including a morning Brunch, Opening Day ceremonies, and the Friends to Friends event .....until then, it's time to round up the guys and get them to bed. FRI 8/10 - After breaking up all the late night impromptu team meetings, the guys finally got to sleep a little later than expected. Most of them straggled out of bed in the late morning, and the team headed over to the hot spot in town to spend some quality time....you got it, the local mall. Right away the locals started asking the players about the team, and who they would be facing on Sunday. They all seem to have personal stories of past World Series games that they were involved in. There is a real pride in the city over what they mean to PONY baseball, and vice versa.
There was a short thundershower in the early afternoon, but that cleared up quick enough, and the weather forecast for the rest of the tournament is looking great. The coaches stopped off at the new PONY headquarters and met some of the organization leaders, and also looked through their Hall of Fame artifacts section. (We will take the entire team there later in the trip.) Right next door is the brand new minor league stadium where the Independent League Washington Wildcats play. We will have to see a game there before we leave town. We then headed down to the PONY field, and took a look around our new digs for the next week. Very nice indeed! Surrounded by trees and forest, we even saw three deer while leaving the park.
Back at the mall, Coach Vic was working his skills in negotiation, getting the entire team into the movies for free! Afterward we had a full team dinner, and returned to our hotel for some evening swimming. The most intriguing part of the night came when the Chesterfield County, Virginia team started playing catch in the back of the hotel ....after a bit of distant observation, our guys joined in and the two teams came together for a big game of 'flip', while they swapped stories of their home towns and the journey they took to get to the World Series. Just watching these 30+ players hanging out together and laughing and joking, reminds us of what this trip is all about. We have a very busy day tomorrow as the official festivities begin. But for now, I'm off to watch some more 'flip'.
SAT 8/11 - The official start of the 2007 PONY World Series began with the managers meeting at 8:00 AM. Rules were reviewed, new team hats were handed out, and the the coin tosses were done for all games in the tournament. Coach Ken correctly called Tails, and selected Home for the 13th time in 14 games. This was followed by the morning Brunch with almost 500 people in attendance. This was the opportunity for PONY baseball, and Washington, PA, to welcome everyone, and layout the plans for this coming week. Each team was introduced, and a coach detailed a bit about their team and the journey to reach the World Series. After the brunch, the teams headed over to Lew Hayes field for team photos. The 7th annual Friends Game featured two teams of physically or mentally challenged boys and girls, who got the opportunity to play (and win) against the World Series All-star players. Long Beach's Chris Hubbard was a key participant in the game helping out the kids on offense, and then taking a big K when he got his chance to bat. This was a very memorable experience, especially after the game as the players congratulated each participant with high fives and words of praise and encouragement.
After a couple hour break, we were back at the PONY fields for the Opening Ceremonies. Each team was introduced, and took up positions on the baselines. The national anthems from Chinese-Taipei, Puerto Rico, and the USA were performed, and it was time for play to begin. We watched the Chinese team give up their first two runs of All-star play, but prevailed 9-2 over Chesapeake Bay, VA. In the nightcap, Puerto Rico dominated in a 11-0 win over Johnston, PA. The players spent most of this time working the crowd and meeting the locals, as the PONY princesses seemed to have found their favorite team to hang with.....the Californians. When it was over, it was back to the hotel, and a firm curfew to get ready for our big day on Sunday.
SUN 8/12 - After a good night's sleep, the team got together and headed over to the PONY practice field for our first practice since Fullerton. We got some rust out, and are looking ready to play this evening. The team is excited, as we send out our ace (Hubbard) against Kingwood, TX., at 5:30 (2:30 PST) tonight.....
Well, I hope you were listening in to tonight's classic game ..a 7-6 9th inning come from behind Long Beach victory! It was never easy...but Chris Hubbard's bottom of the 7th inning 3-run HR blast tied the score at 5-5. In the 8th, Kingwood loaded the bases with 2 outs, but Spencer Troutman struck out the #3 hitter looking, to squelch the threat. In the bottom of the 8th, Matt Treece sent a long drive to deep CF, but it was caught at the base of the fence for an out. Pat Merola followed with a smash to right center that looked like it was going out, but it bounced off the fence for a double. However we could not get him home. Troutman started off the 9th inning by hitting the leadoff man in the head, and two outs later, a single drove the run home, giving Texas a 6-5 lead. But the Beach would not be denied. Troutman led off with a double (his 4th hit of the game), which was quickly followed by a single by Hubbard to tie the game. Alex Campbell drew a full count walk, and both runners advanced on a passed ball ...putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. After a sharp ground out by Taylor Sparks, Dylan Romo stepped up and after taking strike 1, Romo squared and executed a perfect suicide squeeze play, scoring Hubbard with the game winning run. The scene was amazing as the players ran out to congratulate Romo and Hubbard, and the approximately 400 fans were going wild. It was a very special moment, and one that will not be forgotten for a very long, long time. Next game is on Tuesday at 8:00 PM (5:00 PST).
MON 8/13 - The morning began with a mad dash to the newspaper stand to see the latest stories about last night's game. We were not disappointed, as the Front Page headline read 'Extra-inning enthusiasm' and featured a photo of the Long Beach fans rejoicing in the team's victory. The Sports page also had a great story (see link above) featuring Chris Hubbard. The schedule for today included a luncheon for all of the teams participating here, and then the Home Run Derby and Fastest All-Star competition. Our entries for the derby were Taylor Sparks and Chris Hubbard, while Pat Merola competed in the Fastest competition. In the first round Sparks smacked 3 HR's, while Hubbard was shut out (hopefully saving them for the real games). Sparks advanced to the final round of 4, and smacked 2 more HR's to claim the runner-up prize. Pat Merola ran a fast time, but was beaten out by a few extremely fast long-legged creatures.
With the required festivities completed for the day, we found time to take a trip up to Pittsburgh to watch the Pirates play the Giants in the first game of a double-header at 5:00 PM. We chartered a bus and took 30+ players and family members to the game. It was a great experience as we saw Barry Bonds return home. A great big thank you to Larry Buckle for using his baseball connections to get us a great deal on the tickets, and to coordinate this event. We left after the first game in order to get back to the PONY field to watch the Chinese-Taipai vs. Puerto Rico game.
The international contest was a great battle of extremely talented teams, and ended with Puerto Rico winning 4-2. There was some electricity in the air in the 3rd inning, when N.Y. Mets OF Carlos Beltran arrived at the field to cheer on his home team from Puerto Rico. Once he was spotted, the throng of players (and coaches) rushing for photos and autograph's caused security to lock him away for his own protection. We did get a few guys down there to get photos before the iron curtain came down.
The most inspirational and heartwarming moment of the night came as Alex, an 8 year old third baseman from California, Pennsylvania came up to the coaches and asked for their autograph's. After they all happily complied, Coach Ken asked if he would like the entire team to sign his program. Little Alex lit up like a x-mas tree, and shook his head in affirmation. So Ken took Alex around the field finding each player, who jumped at the opportunity to provide their first ever autographs. After a little while, all of the Long Beach players had signed the team photo in the roster, and Alex was the happiest little boy at the park. Both his father and grandfather thanked us for the extended time we took to provide him with a memory that will last a lifetime. We will now have a few new fans sitting on our side when we play again. This was exactly what this trip is about, and it was a very memorable moment for all of the coaches and players involved.
Now it is off to do a bed check, and prepare for tomorrow's game against Washington, PA at 8:00 PM (5:00 PST).
TUE 8/14 - Today we are the featured guests at the Washington Rotary Club luncheon. Long Beach was selected as the team representing the World Series participants based on our friendliness and good behavior. (We are not too shy as a group either.) After the luncheon, we will head over to the Independent League Washington Wild Things brand new stadium for batting practice before our game this evening.
The Rotary luncheon was a really nice event, where the team mingled with key business leaders in the Washington area. The Rotarians were genuinely excited to have us as their guests. Manager Rick Romo served as the guest speaker and gave a great speech about our team, the road we traveled to get here, and something about each player. The winning ways continued as Stefan Miladinovich won the club's 50-50 raffle, and took home the cash.
Back to the field for our game against the host Washington team, and the nerves were racing again...at least in the coaches heads. We had a little trouble getting warmed up before the game, and got off to a slow start as the PA team jumped out to a 2-0 lead after a long home run by the HR Contest winner. But there was a lot of game to play, and we have been playing well when behind. Sure enough, we broke things open in the 3rd inning as the team batted around and scored 5 runs. Starting pitcher Taylor Sparks was relieved by Spencer Troutman, and the defense would bend but not break as the lead grew to 6-2 Beach after 4 inning.
In the top of the 5th, Dylan Romo and Matt Treece each drew walks, and with one out, up to the plate strode lead-off hitter Sean Buckle. On a two and one count, Buckle turned on a fastball and drove a 310 ft blast over the fence in right center field for a 3-run HR. The celebration at home plate was unforgettable as Sean approached home plate with the entire team jumping up and down waiting for him. (He only suffered a slight concussion from all the head slaps). That put the game out of reach, but the team was not done yet. Tyler Erickson worked a scoreless 6th on the mound, and in the 7th, Walker Getz singled, and Stefan Miladinovich drove him home with a single. Spencer Troutman would single (his 3rd of the game, and 7th in 9 World Series plate appearances) and Chris Hubbard would drive in a run with a sac fly. The final Beach run was driven in by pitcher Tyler Erickson giving the Beach a 13-3 lead. On to close it out was Stefan Miladinovich, who got two quick outs, and two quick strikes on the batter before a mistake was slammed out of the park to left. Not to worry, Stefan got the final out of the 13-4 victory, and the Beach is one win away from the WS finals on Saturday.
The fan support here in PA, back at home in Long Beach, and all around the country from family and friends has been unbelievable. You guys are keeping us focused and intent on the task at hand. We couldn't do this without all of you, and we want to say THANK YOU one and all!
WED 8/15 - With a day off from any 'official' PONY activities, many of the players have requested to go to the Washington County Fair today to hang out with the locals after the big win yesterday. As one of only two teams left with 2-0 records (the other being Puerto Rico), we do not play again until Thursday. We will be heading back to the fields this evening to watch the games, and work the crowds. One other key activity for Coach Rick Romo is to get a replacement rental car, as his broke down on the way back from the field last night.
Over at Lew Hayes field, we watched as Chinese-Taipai defeated Chesterfield, VA 7-2 in the opener, and then as rain threatened, Kingwood, TX rolled over Washington, PA 12-1. This sets up a rematch with Kingwood on Thursday (weather permitting).
THU 8/16 - We awoke today as one of only 4 remaining teams in the World Series. Weather Report: there was a small shower during the night, and a strong thunderstorm is forecast for today. We will hold out hope for a break that will allow our game to be played today. If not, it will be rescheduled for Friday...and a possible double-header situation. We are anxious to get back out on the field, as we are running out of things to do to occupy the down time, while maintaining our focus and staying ready to play baseball.
The weather break we were hoping for has arrived, and the rains have not returned. The game will be played as scheduled tonight, with Chris Hubbard taking the mound in this pivotal game.........
Can you believe it? Long Beach PONY is in the World Series Championship Game on Saturday against Puerto Rico. We came out tonight and played our best game of the tournament. Pitcher Chris Hubbard struggled again early with his control and Kingwood took an early 1-0 lead on a pair of walks, a single, and two wild pitches. The Beach did not score in their half of the inning. In the top of the second, a walk and a single put 2 runners on with one out, when Hubbard got the batter to hit a sharp grounder to Preston Allred, who flipped to Matt Treece for 1, and over to Alex Campbell for the 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. In the bottom of the 2nd, Taylor Sparks led off with a mammoth drive over the fence in left centerfield to tie the score at 1. After a Dylan Romo single opened the inning, Pat Merola came up with two outs and smacked the first pitch over the head of the center fielder scoring Romo, before being thrown out at third trying to stretch the hit into a triple. On to the third inning with a 2-1 LB lead, where Hubbard issued a lead-off walk. After a quick trip to the mound by Coach Jakemer, Hubbard induced the next hitter to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. Hub then struck out the next hitter on three pitches ending the inning for Kingwood.
The bottom of the third started with the top of the LB order, and Sean Buckle smacked a lead-off double into the left centerfield gap. After a failed bunt attempt by Spencer Troutman, Chris Hubbard singled, Campbell walked, Sparks reached on an error, and the score was 4-1 Long Beach with runners at 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Preston Allred drove the second pitch he saw down the left field line for a double, scoring two more runs before the inning would end. In the 4th, Hubbard started to find his rhythm, and struck out the side. Buckle would lead off with another double to left center, Troutman reached base on an error, and a Campbell walk loaded the bases with 1 out and Sparks coming to bat. However, a back pick at first caught Campbell napping, and Sparks struck out to end the inning.
To start the 5th, Hubbard issued a walk and the next hitter attempted to move him over with a bunt, but the ball was hit in the air, and Hubbard was able to make the catch and turn the easy double play at first. The next hitter tripled to CF, but was erased when he tried to come home on a pitch that squirted a few feet away from catcher Troutman, who calmly tossed the ball to Hubbard covering home for the inning ending out. In the bottom of the inning, Dylan Romo drove a 2-0 pitch deep over the CF fence for a solo home run, and Stefan Miladinovich added single before the inning ended with Long Beach up 7-1.
Hubbard took the mound again in the sixth, and was greeted by a lead-off double. The next hitter popped the ball up behind the plate and catcher Troutman made a circus juggling catch for one out. Another walk put runners at 1st and 2nd, and the next hitter singled to left, but Miladinovich threw a perfect strike to the plate, and Troutman easily tagged out the runner trying to score from 2nd. Hubbard promptly picked the runner off at first to end the inning again with no runs scoring. The Beach started right away in the bottom of the sixth with a Troutman single, and Chris Hubbard drove his second World Series HR over the wall in CF scoring 2 more runs. The inning would end with LB up 9-1. A call to the bullpen brought Walker Getz in to close out the game, and he was brilliant, striking out two batters on 6 pitches, getting them to walk back to the dugout before the umpire even called 'strike three'. The game ended on an easy grounder to Romo at third, and Long Beach was in the finals.
We have a day off tomorrow before we face the Puerto Rico team in the finals on Saturday at 1:00 PM EST (10:00 PST). We are the best PONY Team in the USA, and on Saturday we try to add the World to that title.
The support we have received continues to amaze and humble us all. We have received countless emails, phone calls, and text messages with words of support and encouragement from friends and fans all over the city, state, and country. We could not have done this without you all! Thanks again from the entire Long Beach PONY organization.
FRI 8/17 - Today was an 'off' day for the entire tournament, as we prepare for the finals on Saturday. We started the day off with a team meal at the local Waffle House, basically taking over the place with players and several parents joining in. After a short break, we headed up to the practice field for some BP, to get prepared for the tough pitching we will be facing. Several parents took the opportunity to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's famous home (the waterfall house), while the team spent the rest of the day relaxing. A trip to the mall and a movie wrapped up the activities for the night, and then it was time to get ready for the next day's game.
SAT 8/18 - This is the day we have all been waiting for, and the culmination of many weeks of hard work put in by the players and coaches. We will take the field in a few hours as one of 2 remaining teams in the World battling for the PONY World Series title. It has been an amazing journey, and we have just one more step to take to reach the ultimate goal. We will leave it all on the field today....and may the best team win.
As you likely know by now, the magic ran out today as Puerto Rico fought back from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series title 8-3. But before it was over, the Long Beach team had the Puerto Rican team worried and in a state of confusion. Starting the game off for Long Beach, Sean Buckle singled down the left field line for a single. Spencer Troutman followed that with a hard hit ball to second, which was booted for an uncharacteristic error. After a passed ball moved the runners to 2nd and 3rd, Chris Hubbard laced a single to center scoring Buckle. Coach Rick Romo gambled and sent Troutman home too, and the throw and the runner met at the same time, with Troutman knocking the ball loose from the catcher for the second run. The PR pitcher would close out the inning with a pair of strike outs, but Long Beach held an early 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the inning, pitcher Troutman looked strong and had the opponents swinging and missing at his curves and off speed pitches. A walk to the second batter, and a bad pick-off attempt allowed the runner to reach third, where he came home on a passed ball before the last batter was retired with the score now 2-1. Preston Allred led off the 2nd with a single, Matt Treece walked, and Pat Merola laid down a bunt single loading the bases. Sean Buckle came up and worked the count in his favor before he was hit by the pitch, driving in the third run of the game. The next batter drove a hard grounder to the second baseman who threw home for one out, and over to third to catch the runner for a double play. The next batter struck out, and our threat was over. Puerto Rico would not score in the second, and Long Beach did not score in the 3rd. In the bottom of the third, PR got their first hit of the game, and again advanced the runner to third with two outs. Once more, a passed ball allowed the run to come in without the aid of a hit, and the gap was closed to 3-2 as the inning ended on a strike out on the next pitch. After blanking the Beach in the 4th, Puerto Rico evened the score on a long HR to centerfield.
Puerto Rico made a pitching change in the 5th and the new pitcher retired the side in order. Long Beach also made a pitching change, but the results were not as positive. A lead-off walk, and a one out double to center drove in a run, and brought out another pitching change. A ground out brought in a run from third before the final out was recorded, and Puerto Rico had a 5-3 lead. In the 6th, the Beach was retired 1-2-3 again, and the call went to Chris Hubbard to try and keep the game close. But the determined Hubbard was just what PR wanted to see, since they were not having as much success with the slower stuff. The first batter he faced smacked his second HR of the game over the fence, and took a leisurely jog/walk around the bases. On a 0-2 pitch, Hubbard drilled the PR batter, and the following batter came up and stroked a line drive to left that just cleared the 250 ft sign for another HR, and the score had ballooned to 8-3. Another Beach pitching change brought Dylan Romo to the mound, and he proceeded to silence the PR bats the rest of the inning. But the damage was done. In the 7th, the PR pitcher retired the side in order to end the game and give Puerto Rico the World Series championship. Needless to say, the team and coaches were devastated by the loss, after taking the early lead. We definitely feel we can play with them, but did not put together the complete game effort that was needed to win this one.
After the game each team was presented with World Series plaques, World Series participant pins, World Series tournament programs, and 2007 World Series banners. The fans and families in attendance took the field and applauded the team for the fantastic run through to the series final. Photos were taken of every conceivable player/parent combination, and we slowly left the field and headed back to our hotel.
We decided to take our frustrations out at dinner, so we all pilled into Rick's rental and headed over to CiCi's All-you-can-eat Pizza place. CiCi's may never be the same. With all that pressure released, the boys decided that they wanted to head down to the mall. I guess they got over it faster than the coaches have. The final activity of the night was an autograph party where we signed World Series baseball for each team member, as well as the big World Series road signs that were placed all over town. These will be great souvenirs for the boys, and a nice conversation piece in the future.
The group will be heading to the airport tomorrow morning at 11:30 AM EST, and are scheduled to arrive at LAX around 6:50 PM PST. The team will arrive at Whaley Park around 7:15-7:30 PM on Sunday. The will return as the 2nd best team in the world, the #1 team in the United States, and the #1 team in the hearts of their fans, families, and friends. This was an AMAZING run that will never be forgotten by all involved. Congratulations to every player and coach for the exciting summer vacation activities.
For the final time this year....GO BEACH!
SUN 8/19 - LONG BEACH ALL-STARS WELCOMED HOME BY HUNDREDS OF FANS AT WHALEY PARK
Our team returned from Washington, Pennsylvania, and the PONY World Series on Sunday, August 19th to a most wonderful sight. Somewhere between 150 and 2,000 people packed the Whaley lot with banners, balloons, signs, flashing lights and horns. All wishing to show what these young men have meant to the city of Long Beach, and how they have felt about this incredible run through to the World Series final. The heartfelt warmth of the moment will never be forgotten by the coaches and players involved. Congratulations Long Beach! Not only are the players World Series caliber performers, our fans, families and friends are also the BEST IN THE USA!
1st HALF REC
1st HALF pct
DAY / NIGHT
TOTAL=Overall Record; PCT=Overall Winning Pct; IN DIV=Record In
Divsion; OUT DIV=Record InterDivision; STRK=Recent Streak; LAST
5=Record for last 5 games; HOME=Home record; VIS=Visiting record;
DAY=Day game record; NIGHT=Night record; RF=Runs For; RA=Runs Allowed.