PPBA 8U &s 9U Teams Fall in Pony Region and District Playoffs
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Coach Eric Foster gathered his team together before its final at-bat in last Saturday’s Pony Baseball West Region playoff game and encouraged his players to score some runs.
“It’s not over… we can win this!” he shouted.
The Pacific Palisades Baseball Association’s Pinto 8U All-Stars took those words to heart and rallied from a three-run deficit to take the lead against host East Long Beach B before seeing their season come to an end in a 7-6 defeat.
“To get as far as we have… I can’t express how proud I am of these boys,” said Foster, who coached the Royals to the final four in the PPBA playoffs. “This was the first time these kids got to face live pitching, actually getting hit by pitches, feeling what that’s like and also pitching themselves. [Assistant coach] Todd Refnes pitched in the minor leagues and he did a great job working with everyone in the bullpen every practice. Last week every player threw the maximum number of pitches allowable, which is a testament to how good this group is. We played as many games in All-Stars as in the regular season.”
Having taken second at the Section 2 Tournament in Wilmington, Palisades advanced to the six-team regionals hoping for another crack at Pico Rivera, which had dealt Palisades its only two losses in the Section playoffs.
Instead, Palisades took on Los Alamitos last Thursday and hung tough for four innings before losing 12-2, pushing the PPBA squad to the brink of elimination.
In the fourth inning, Lukas Lin singled to drive in Will Monaco and Neumann singled to score Wyatt Foster to pull Palisades within 3-2. East Long Beach B responded with two runs in the bottom half and carried a 5-2 lead into the top of the sixth.
Palisades proceeded to load the bases with no outs and after a run scored on a grounder to first, Duke Badt singled up the middle to score two runs, then slid home from thiord base for the go-ahead run with two outs.
However, the home team mounted a rally of its own in the bottom of the sixth, tying it 6-6 on a fly to center and winning it when Alan Machado alertly stole home.
“They stole it—literally,” Foster said. “This team is going to be really good in a few years.”
Rounding out the Palisades 8U roster were Tribe Edwards, Lars Refnes, Emilio McCann, Finnegan Viles, Colton Nassour, Jack Gilligan and Sean Gilhooly.
The team finished 13-10 and beat squads from Norwalk, Wilmington, South Bay, Torrance, Santa Monica, Ventura, La Canada and Westlake Village.
At the District playoffs in Torrance, the PPBA’s Mustang 9U squad racked up 13 hits on its way to an opening 12-7 victory over Redondo Sunset last Tuesday.
Zane Wolsefer and Sebastian DeRosa each had three hits, Cole Miller had two hits and two walks and Wolsefer, DeRosa and Wyatt Schinto all had two RBIs.
In its first game last Saturday, Palisades fell to East Long Beach 8-1. In the top of the fifth inning Tommy Lavia walked and eventually scored from third on a passed ball for Palisades’ only run.
Palisades staved off elimination Saturday afternoon by topping Redondo Sunset 12-8 on the strength of a nine-run third inning.
Carter Branch had three RBIs, Miller added two and DeRosa had two strikeouts in three and one-third innings pitched.
On Sunday afternoon, Palisades was held to one hit in a 14-2 defeat to host Torrance American, finishing the All-Star season with a 7-7-1 mark.
Rounding out the Mustang 9U roster were Owen Ghaffari, Max Conchuratt, Liam Nassour, Jagger Nathan, Oliver O’Donnell, Charlie Olsen, Walter Sibson, and Levi Gibbons.
While the 8Us and 9Us were battling to stay alive in sanctioned tournaments, the PPBA’s 10U White squad was taking on Irvine and Carlsbad in a three-team round robin Sunday in Irvine.
In the morning game against host Irvine, Palisades trailed 6-2 going into the last inning but rallied for three runs and had the tying run on third when the final out was recorded. Owen Camacho and Jack Newall-Mitchell each pitched two innings and Owen Gutierrez pitched one.
In the afternoon game against Carlsbad, Palisades trailed 1-0 until the top of the fifth when it erupted for six runs and held on for a 6-1 victory.
Gutierrez singled to lead off the fifth and promplty stole second. Tristan Girodet followed with an RBI triple to tie the score. Jimmy Levy’s grounder to third allowed Girodet to score the go-ahead run, Jack Michael singled and Owen Camacho walked to load the bases. Levy slid home on a wild pitch, Camacho scored on a throwing error, Brady Eng hit an RBI single and Cash Morrow walked with the bases loaded to force in the final run.
Shortstop Quincy Watson made a running backhanded catch in shallow left field in the bottom of the frame and Gutierrez caught a line drive at third and threw to second for a double play in the sixth. Hayden Prince also contributed and catcher Beau Schinto caught a foul ball for the final out with Watson on the mound.
The 10Us, who are coached by Josh Morrow and also include Chander Desai, Dylan Iwanyk and Luke Connan, participate in the Mid-Valley Classic this weekend and host the Pony section tournament next week at the Field of Dreams.