Battling to the Last Out

Will Monaco belts an RBI single in the semifinal game of the Encino Tournament.
Photos by Steve Galluzzo

PPBA Mustang 9U All-Star Squad Reaches Encino Semifinals in Final Tournament

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

In the team huddle after a heartbreaking defeat, head coach Eric Foster asked his PPBA Mustang 9U All-Star players if  any of them had something to say. Third baseman Boone Casady raised his hand and declared “Hey, we have another summer coming up!”

That comment exemplified the competitive spirit and maturity the local squad showed throughout the Pony All-Star season, which culminated in Sunday’s 7-6 five-inning loss to the Flying Tigers from Sherman Oaks in the semifinals of the Encino Tournament.

Second baseman Duke Badt pivots to turn a double play in the fifth inning of Sunday’s game against Sherman Oaks.

“It’s pretty cool,” Foster said. “I feel so fortunate, blessed and proud that I got to coach a group that had fun, played the right way, had high energy and kept slugging away when their backs were against the wall. They’ll applaud each other for good plays and pat each other on the back   and say ‘get it next time’ when there’s a bad play. It’s a fine group of young men.”

Palisades battled to the end in its last game, getting the tying run to third base with two outs in its final at-bat in a duel that exceeded the 90-minute time limit.

Starter Lars Refnes throws a strike in the semifinals Sunday against Sherman Oaks. He pitched into the third inning.

Pitcher Lars Refnes was sharp early and got help from his defense when  right fielder Emilio McCann relayed to second baseman Duke Badt, who fired a laser to the plate where catcher Wyatt Foster caught it and tagged out a sliding runner to end the first inning.

Refnes doubled to left and scored to tie the game 1-1 on a single by Casady. Will Monaco singled to score Casady and give Palisades the lead.

Palisades added a run in the second as Badt scored from third on a wild pitch.

Finny Viles relieved Refnes in the third and a strong throw by shortstop Ford Casady got Palisades out of a jam.

Trailing 6-3 in the fourth, Lukas Lin hustled to beat out an infield single that scored Tribe Edwards from third. Refnes blooped a single to score Viles and cut the deficit to one. A 6-4-3 double play kept Sherman Oaks from blowing the contest open in the fifth. In the bottom half Foster doubled to right and scored on an error.  

Lukas Lin waits for his pitch in the fourth inning. He singled to score Tribe Edwards.

Palisades advanced to the single elimination playoffs with two blowout victories Saturday.

In the opening game against the So Cal Aztecs of Santa Ana, Edwards threw a dart from center field to get a runner at the plate  in the second inning and Palisades rode the momentum to a 14-3 win.

Ford Casady walked to lead off the third, Refnes doubled him to third and Palisades went on to bat around, scoring eight runs in the inning. The player of the game was Viles, who had two doubles, a walk and three RBIs. Refnes went three-for-four with a double, Boone Casady went two-for-three and Lukas Lin went two-for-three with a triple and two RBIs.

In its second game Saturday afternoon Palisades exploded for 18 runs in just two innings against Pride, a travel team from Thousand Oaks. Palisades had its best offensive performance of the summer: pounding 14 hits, drawing five walks and plating nine runs in the top of the first inning.

Palisades’ Tribe Edwards fouls off a pitch to stay alive in the fourth inning. He reached base on a throwing error.

The player of the game was pitcher Wyatt Foster, who only allowed one hit and two unearned runs with four strikeouts and had a two-run triple. Monaco and Ford Casady each went three-for-three.

On Sunday morning, Refnes and McCann represented the team in the Home Run Derby, played on a Pinto-sized field, in which each batter was allowed six swings, with ties broken by alternating single swings by the competitors.

When the dust settled, Refnes  took second place after clouting four homers in six swings. McCann stepped into the batter’s box next and proceeded to smack three balls over the fence, good enough for third place.

Palisades’ 9Us ended the All-Star campaign with a record of 15 wins, eight losses and two ties.

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