Emerald Pony League all-star baseball teams are World Series bound

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There has been a lot of activity on the Emerald Pony League Facebook site in the past few weeks, and with good reason. The El Cajon-based league’s Mustang-9 and Pony-13 all-star teams are both World Series bound.

Emerald FC Prime will represent the West Zone when play starts Thursday, July 28, in the Mustang-9 International World Series in Walnut. The eight-team international tournament wraps up Sunday, July 31.

There has been a lot of activity on the Emerald Pony League Facebook site in the past few weeks, and with good reason. The El Cajon-based league’s Mustang-9 and Pony-13 all-star teams are both World Series bound.

Emerald FC Prime will represent the West Zone when play starts Thursday, July 28, in the Mustang-9 International World Series in Walnut. The eight-team international tournament wraps up Sunday, July 31.

Emerald Diamond will represent the West Zone when play starts Friday, July 29, in the Pony-13 International World Series in Whittier. The eight-team international tournament wraps up Monday, Aug. 1.

Emerald Pony League Coordinator Mingo Villa said qualifying a team for the Mustang-9 World Series is a first for the league while this is the first time the league has qualified a team for the Pony-13 World Series in the last decade.

Villa said the league is buzzing with excitement at the two World Series appearances this weekend. 

“We had been a traditional Pony League until five or six years ago when we opened it up to younger divisions,” Villa explained. “The program has just grown.

“Also, about two to three years ago, Pony Baseball opened up its boundaries. As long as you live in San Diego County, you can play Pony with your friends. That also has helped expand our growth as a league.”

Three players on this year’s Emerald Pony-13 World Series team are no strangers to basking in the international spotlight after competing in last year’s Little League World Series. Jake Baptista, Nate Nankil and Ariel Armas were members of the Sweetwater Valley Little League team that posted a third-place finish in last year’s United States Division.

The trio is back for more international action this year as members of the Emerald team.

Nankil has recently rejoined the Emerald team after participating in summer tournaments with the 14U United States National Team Development Program.

Overall, it’s been a great showing for San Diego County Pony Baseball teams this summer. Chula Vista South has advanced to compete in the upcoming Colt Division West Zone tournament while the Emerald Cowboys remained in contention, as of Tuesday, to earn advancement from the Pony-14 Southern California Super Region tournament being played in Lakeside.

Stay tuned because it’s not all over yet!

Mustang-9 World Series

Emerald FC Prime defeated Hilo (Hawaii), 13-7, in Monday’s West Zone tournament championship game to clinch a berth in this year’s Mustang-9 World Series. Emerald completed the West Zone tournament with a perfect 4-0 record.

The El Cajon all-star squad opened the eight-team West Zone tournament in Walnut by defeating Seattle (Wash.) by a score of 20-2 and tacked on a 15-9 win over Scottsdale (Ariz.) to advance to the tournament semifinals. Emerald defeated Scottsdale, 15-4, in a rematch to meet the Hawaii representative in Monday’s zone final.

Emerald defeated Irvine, 4-0, to win the championship of the Southern California Super Region tournament July 14-19 in Walnut. Emerald went 4-0, defeating Charter Oak (9-0), Olive (9-1), Whittier Select (12-3) prior to meeting Irvine in the tourney final.

Emerald defeated Carlsbad, 17-5, to win the Southwest Region championship July 5 in Carlsbad. Emerald opened the tournament with a 24-2 win over the San Marcos Grizzlies, then defeated Escondido by a score of 11-7. Emerald topped Carlsbad, 10-3, in the semifinals and defeated the same Carlsbad team in the championship game.

Emerald started its World Series quest by wining the San Diego East/South Section championship June 26 in Ramona. Emerald defeated, in order, La Jolla Blue (19-0), Ramona (19-8), North City (13-2) and La Jolla Red twice (16-1 in the semifinals and 12-0 in the championship game).

That should add up to a gangbuster record of 17-0 heading into the Mustang-9 World Series.

All 15 scheduled games in the Mustang-9 World Series will be played at Creekside Park in Walnut. Four teams from United States zone qualifiers, three international teams and the host team will battle it out for the championship in the double-elimination tournament,

Emerald, as the West Zone qualifier, will meet the East Zone qualifier from Bronx, N.Y. in Thursday’s World Series opener (7:30 p.m. start). The Emerald-Bronx winner will meet the first-round winner between Laredo, Texas, the South Zone champion, and the Philippines, the Asian Zone qualifier, in a second-round winners bracket game on Friday, July 29, at 7:30 p.m.

First-round losers will meet in an elimination game on Friday, July 29, at 5 p.m.

Additional elimination games are scheduled through the weekend. Semifinals in both the winners and losers brackets are scheduled July 30. The championship game is scheduled Sunday, July 31, at 1 p.m.

The Dominican Republic (Caribbean Zone), Tijuana (Mexico Zone), Joliet, Ill. (North Zone) and host Walnut also the other entrants in this year’s Mustang-9 World Series.

Pony-13 World Series

Emerald Diamond is the second San Diego County team to qualify for the Pony-13 World Series in consecutive years.

Chula Vista South won last year’s Pony-13 World Series championship; Chula Vista North won the Pony-13 World Series championship in 2010.

Emerald is 11-1 thus far in three qualifying tournaments. The El Cajon-based team opened all-star play by capturing the championship banner of the San Diego Section 1 tournament held June 18-26 at the Chula Vista South Pony field.

Emerald defeated Emerald Blue, 17-7, in its first game before going on to pound Chula Vista South Royal, 21-3, in its second game. Emerald edged Chula Vista Navy, 2-1, in the winners bracket final before re-matching with Chula Vista Navy in the championship game. Emerald defeated Chula Vista Navy, 6-4, in the championship game.

The top three teams from both the Section 1 and Section 2 tournaments advanced to compete in the Southwest Region championship tournament held July 6-10.

Emerald Crimson defeated Paradise Hills, 12-1, to win the Section 2 title. The third-place from the Section 1 tournament (Emerald Blue) also earned a berth in the region tournament.

Emerald Diamond won its opening two games at the region tournament – defeating Paradise Hills, 16-0, and Chula Vista South 10-8.

Chula Vista South also won its opening two games – defeating Emerald Blue, 5-1, and Emerald Crimson 4-1.

In a pair of elimination games, Paradise Hills eliminated Emerald Blue, 9-1, while Emerald Crimson eliminated Paradise Hills by a score of 12-10.

That left three teams in contention for the Pony-13 Southwest Region championship title: Emerald Diamond, Chula Vista South and Emerald Crimson. The field was reduced to two teams when Emerald Crimson eliminated Chula Vista South, 8-1, in a third elimination game played at the tournament.

Emerald Diamond and Emerald Crimson remained to battle for the championship in the double-elimination tournament. The teams played two games. Emerald Crimson won the first meeting, 9-6, to force a championship game replay that Emerald Diamond won 10-3 to advance to the West Zone tournament.

Emerald Crimson joined Emerald Diamond at the West Zone tournament after successfully navigating the field with wins over San Dimas, Heartwell, Quartz Hill, Long Beach and Camarillo in the Southern California Super Region tournament held in Whittier and West Covina.

The West Zone tournament, played July 21-25 in Whittier, featured eight teams from California, Arizona, Washington and Hawaii.

Emerald Diamond defeated Alea (Hawaii) by a score of 15-0 to open tourney play and then defeated Campbell (Calif.) by a score of 13-1 in its second game to earn a rematch with Alea in the semifinals. Emerald Diamond won the rematch, 7-1, to advance to the zone championship game against Covina.

Emerald Diamond shut out Covina, 2-0, to advance to the Pony-13 World Series.

Emerald Crimson went 0-2 at the zone tournament. Campbell defeated Emerald Crimson, 8-3, in the teams’ tourney opener while Alea then eliminated Emerald Crimson by the same score in an ensuing elimination game.

Batter up

The Pony-13 World Series features an eight-team double elimination bracket, with two sets of four teams each funneling toward the championship game.

Emerald Diamond is in the bracket that also includes Minatitlan, Veracruz (Mexico zone), Hagerstown, Pa. (East Zone) and Grand Ledge, Mich. (North Zone).

The tournament is built for speed, with teams playing each of four days in succession while they remain in contention.

Emerald Diamond opens World Series play Friday, July 29, at 4 p.m. with a first-round game against Grand Ledge. The winner advances to play the Minatitlan-Hagerstown winner in second-round play on Saturday, July 30, at 4:30 p.m.

The Emerald Diamond-Grand Ledge loser will play the Minatitlan-Hagerstown loser Saturday, July 30, at 10:30 a.m.

The second group of four World Series qualifies includes Manila, Philippines (Asia-Pacific Zone), Panama (Caribbean Zone), Brownsville, Texas (South Zone) and the host Whittier team.

The winner of the Manila-Panama game advances to a second-round winners bracket contest against the Brownsville-Whittier winner. Similarly, the losers of both first-round games will meet in an elimination game, also on July 30.

At this point, six teams remain active in the tournament.

Cross-bracket play matches teams in a second elimination round on Sunday, July 31, further reducing the field to four teams for semifinal match-ups later that day.

Any double-elimination games required will be played on Monday, Aug. 1, prior to the championship game scheduled later that evening at 7 p.m.

Pony-14

The Emerald Cowboys and Sportland Heat both competed in the 16-team Southern California Super Region tournament.

The Cowboys defeated the Heat, 11-2, in the section finals. The same two teams met in the region championship game, with the Cowboys pulling out a 7-0 victory.

Lakeside joined the Cowboys and Heat at the super region tournament played in Lakeside.

Lakeside won its first game by a score of 8-5 over Norwalk but lost, 8-4, to Covina in its second game. Heartwell eliminated the Lakeside team by an 11-0 score in an ensuing elimination game.

The Heat lost 16-10 to Covina but defeated Norwalk by a score of 20-4 and El Rio by a score of 11-5 in a pair of elimination game before suffering elimination with an eventual 9-8 setback to Heartwell.

The Cowboys defeated Heartwell, 2-0, before recording additional victories against El Rio (5-4) and Covina (12-0). The Cowboys lost, 5-1, to Quartz Hill Gold, which earned advancement as the bracket champion to the zone tournament.

A second team from the SoCal Super Region also advances to the West Zone tournament, with that to be determined between the Cowboys and either Long Beach or Heartwell.

Staying Alive

Last year’s Pony-13 World Series champion Chula Vista South team elected to compete up a division this year and bypassed the Pony-14 level to compete in the Colt Division, which encompasses the 15- to-16-year-old age group.

Chula Vista South hasn’t let its youthful roster be a hindrance after defeating IE Anchor, 6-0, to Monday’s Southern California Super Region championship game in Riverside. Chula Vista South now advances to the upcoming West Zone championship tournament in San Jose.

The West Zone champion advances to the Colt World Series, scheduled Aug. 5-10 in Lafayette, Ind.

Pony Baseball conducts World Series tournaments at nine-age levels:

•Garner, N.C. defeated Washington, Pa., to win the Pinto-8 (machine pitch) World Series held July 21-23 in Mt. Vernon, Ill.

•The Mustang-10 World Series is scheduled Aug. 7-10 in Youngsville, La.

•The Bronco-11 World Series wraps up Friday, July 31, in Chesterfield, Va., while the Bronco-12 World Series is scheduled Aug. 5-8 in Los Alamitos.

•The Pony-14 World Series is scheduled Aug. 5-10 in Washington, Pa.

•The Palomino World Series is scheduled Aug. 4-7 in Santa Clara.

Pony Softball also conducts a series of girls’ softball regional championship events. The West Zone tournament wrapped up Sunday in Hemet.

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