Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pony League players reach new level


Young sluggers from Santa Barbara and Goleta exceeded expectations and advanced further than a Santa Barbara team ever has by playing past the districts and to the regional final of the Pony League 13 and 14 year-old all star tournament. The team eventually lost to Quartzville in the regional finals earlier this month, but stampeded their way through the first four games of that tournament outscoring opponents 39-4.

Usually Santa Barbara Pony League teams do not fare as well, because in Santa Barbara players are selected from a pool of just four teams while in other cities players from up to 16 Pony League teams are selected to represent their cities in the all star tournament, according to coach Rob Crawford.
This team had played together in the past and never found their stride, but Crawford felt that exposure to high school-level baseball during many of the players’ freshman year at area schools had gotten the kids to a new level.
“I could tell they had just grown bigger. Sometimes before they seemed like the smaller team out there playing against what looked like adults, but it was amazing to see what they got out of practicing and playing in high school,” said Crawford.
Jose Diaz displayed that newfound strength with authority by crushing four homeruns in only four games during the district tournament. According to Crawford, at the end of the tournament the homerun balls were handed back to the kids and the tournament director commented that he had never handed back the full cycle of homerun balls to a player — Diaz had hit a one-run homerun, two-run home run, three-run home run and a grand slam.
The team did not lose until they face Simi Valley, the defending national world series of Pony baseball champions. Simi Valley had won more than thirty consecutive games.
After the Simi Valley loss, the team was in a win-or-go-home situation and ace pitcher Kees t’Sas “lived up to his billing as the ace on the staff,” and pitched a complete game against a historically strong Hart team that was also the tournament host in a 6-5 victory. Santa Barbara had never beaten Hart before.
In that game, the team did not get to take the field until 10 p.m. because the previous games had run late. Low on energy, they had trouble scoring runs, but with two out in the fifth inning, they put together a six-run rally behind doubles by Kenny Crawford and Luke Loggins.
Colin Eaton also did his share of strong pitching, when he wasn’t catching for t’Sas, throwing a one-hitter.
But after three-weeks of baseball, the team ran out of pitchers and was eventually out-endured in the final game against Quartzville.
These players that grooved for a deep-run in the all-star tournament will have to split up, but will be filling up the rosters of Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, Santa Barbara and Bishop high schools for the next four years.

1 comment:

Greg Knowles said...

Congratulations Guys!