Local 13- & 14-Year-Olds Rally to Take Three-Game Series Versus Cheviot Hills Blue
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Every team hopes to peak come playoff time and that’s exactly what happened to Pali Red, one of two Pacific Palisades Baseball Association Pony Division teams.
Coached by Brian Grimes, John Dilullo and Patrick Bailey, the squad of 13- & 14-year-olds rallied for wins in the final two games of the championship series against Cheviot Hills Blue to capture the title, finishing the season 14-6 in a league comprised of teams from Pacific Palisades, Cheviot Hills and Santa Monica.
Pali Red’s roster consisted of James Rockwell, Will Andrews, Pierce Bergstein, Gage Grimes, Leo Velez, Declan Forest, Mason Dilullo, Justin Pack, Spencer Rodman, Sam Stern, Lucas Brumbach, Logan Bailey and Jivan Girodet.
Cheviot Hills had lost only one game in the regular season—including two victories over Pali Red—to earn home field advantage and capitalized on five errors to take the first game 6-2, despite two hits by Rockwell and a solo home run by Bergstein.
Facing elimination at the Field of Dreams two days later, Pali Red rebounded to win 2-0 as Stern and Rockwell combined on a one-hitter with eight strikeouts to even the series at one game apiece. It was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth when Grimes got a lead-off single and moved to second on a ground out by Velez. With Pack at the plate, Grimes was off with the pitch as Pack smacked the ball through the right side to knock in Grimes with what turned out to be the winning run. Declan Forest added an RBI in the sixth inning.
The series finale was back at Cheviot’s home field last Tuesday night and the dynamic duo of Stern and Rockwell once again took the mound and combined for a two-hitter as Pali Red won handily, 9-1. Velez led the way with three hits and two RBIs, Dilullo and Forest eah added two hits and Rockwell blasted a pair of doubles and struck out 10 hitters in five and one-third innings.
“I’m proud of the boys and they had a great time playing together,” Coach Grimes said. “In all their years in PPBA, nine of them had never won a championship, so it was wonderful to help guide them to that. My hope is that all of them want to keep playing this great sport.”