By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Win or go home. That was the scenario facing the PPBA 12U All-Stars entering Monday night’s elimination game versus South Bay. Palisades was up to the challenge, building an early lead then hanging on for a 9-8 victory at the Field of Dreams and earning a spot in the PONY Baseball Super Regionals beginning today in West Covina.
“I’m so proud of our boys,” co-coach Blake Schinto said. “They played really well in a big game against a very good opponent.”
Palisades finished second in the eight-team SoCal West Region bracket, winning three of four contests.
After victories over Cheviot Hills and Norwalk on Thursday and Saturday, Palisades fell to eventual-champion Torrance 10-4 on Sunday, setting the stage for up a runner-up showdown with South Bay.
Starting pitcher Tommy Lavia lasted five and two-thirds innings and Palisades built an 8-2 lead thanks to clutch hits by Liam Nassour, Claudio Acuna, Levi Gibbons, Charlie Olsen and Zane Wolsefer. Defensively, Cole Miller, Wyatt Schinto and Sebastian DeRosa made stellar plays to rob South Bay of hits. The local squad stretched its lead to 9-4 in the top of the seventh on a pinch-hit single by Walter Sibson. South Bay got back to within a run in the bottom of the frame after a two-out grand slam home run but DeRosa got a strike out to preserve the win. Palisades is now 5-2 in the shortened All-Star season, having previously gone 2-1 at the Agoura Las Virgenes Tournament.
Coached by Schinto, Tripp Nassour and Troy Miller, the 12U team also features catchers Carter Branch and Owen Ghaffari and outfielder/pitcher Oliver O’Donnell.
Meanwhile, Palisades’ 10U All-Stars also hosted the PONY Region tournament, but did not advance after losses losses to Redondo Sunset and East Long Beach. Coached by Kambiz Kamdar and David Diederich, the 10U roster consisted of Liam Kamdar, James Diederich, Tate Jennison, Felix Gibbons, Max Ehrman, Jace Roshon, Jackson Mitchell, Rocco DeGeorge, Connor Stacknick and Colt Clark
Meanwhile, coaches David Hoffman, Brad Hill and Donald Moore piloted the PPBA 8U All-Stars on a magical run to the Super Regions in Moreno Valley.
The 8Us came within one victory of a trip to San Jose for the 8U PONY World Series.
After advancing to the Super Region playoffs the previous weekend, the Palisades squad, nicknamed “The Ochos,” was in a field of 16 teams and had to win at least two of three pool play matchups against Costa Mesa, West Covina and Simi Valley White to have any chance of advancing to the bracket phase in Moreno Valley.
On Wednesday, June 30, the Ochos started off with an evening game against West Covina, which made it to the World Series as a 6U team in 2019. After jumping ahead 3-0 the Ochos managed to hold on for a 6-5 victory behind the batting of Sam Foster (who had two hits) and the pitching of Will Hill, Blake Milinovich and Maxwell Yost.
The next game was against Simi Valley White and the Ocho bats came to life, racking up 12 hits and forcing 10 walks.
Will Hill, Sam Foster, Isaac Unegerleider, Wil Hoffman, Henry Wyman and Max Yost each got on base twice to lead the effort. Foster Badt pitched two scoreless frames and struck out four to help lead the Ochos to the bracket phase (Top 8) —a feat very few Palisades teams have ever accomplished. Having already clinched a bracket berth the Ochos lost to Costa Mesa 16-4.
On Friday, the Ochos faced East Long Beach, a team they had lost to twice this summer. Hill pitched three and two-thirds shutout innings with eight strikeouts. The Ochos scored four runs in the first inning but East Long Beach mounted a furious comeback in the sixth inning before Blake Milinovich induced a pop-up to first baseman Remy Moore, who stepped on the bag for a game-ending double play. Milinivoch, Hill, Foster, Remy Moore, Jackson Moore, Hoffman and Perish McGinn combined to bat 12 for 21, including triples by Hill and Milinovich. With the win, the Ochos were one game from the World Series, going further than any recent PPBA All-Star team.
On Saturday morning, the Ochos played Simi Valley Red. Foster and Ungerleider pitched well but Simi Valley won, 11-1. Despite the loss, it was an historic run for the Ochos who represented the Palisades with sportsmanship, hustle, competitiveness and spirit. The two teams the Ochos ended up losing to—Costa Mesa and Simi Valley—finished first and third in the World Series.
The Ochos’ talented roster consisted of Will Hill, Sam Foster, Wil Hoffman, Blake Milinovich, Henry Wyman, Perrish McGinn, Dayton Matkins, Maxwell Yost, Isaac Ungerleider, Foster Badt, Rhys Scheflen, Remy Moore and Jackson Moore.
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