San Diego team falls one win short of Pony League World Series


The Pony League World Series isn’t as well recognized as the Little League World Series but still has a long and storied history.

Both events are annually held in Pennsylvania.

Little League International can trace its origin to 1939; Pony Baseball was first organized in 1951.

The San Diego County-based Tecolote Red all-star team came within one win of advancing to this year’s Pony-14 championship series.

The Pony League World Series isn’t as well recognized as the Little League World Series but still has a long and storied history.

Both events are annually held in Pennsylvania.

Little League International can trace its origin to 1939; Pony Baseball was first organized in 1951.

The San Diego County-based Tecolote Red all-star team came within one win of advancing to this year’s Pony-14 championship series.

The team proved to be a contender in all four tournaments in which it competed this summer, including last weekend’s elite West Zone tournament in West Hills.

As a matter of reference, the Pony West Zone tournament is equivalent to Little League Baseball’s Western Regional tournament in San Bernardino that will crown its champion on Saturday.

The West Zone winner advances to the Pony League World Series scheduled Aug. 10-15 in Washington, Pa.

Long Beach will represent the West Zone in this year’s weekend’s world championship tournament after topping Tecolote, 8-1, in last Sunday’s winner-take-all zone final.

But it was a fun ride for the San Diego group, which started summer all-star tournament play with an undefeated 9-0 record and finished 13-2 overall after a gritty 3-1 showing at the West Zone tournament.

Both Tecolote losses were to Pony World Series qualifier Long Beach, which had previously defeated the San Diego team, 14-2, in the Southern California Super Region tournament finals July 30 in Lakeside.

Players on the Tecolote team’s roster included Lorenzo Sardo, Jacob Campagna, Binks Deatherage, T.J. Bibler, Dominic Nunes, Tylor Eagan, Jet Taylor, Jackson Emerson, Andrew Norman, Diego Nunez, Jamil Labra, Carlos Cerda Jr., Diego Magallon and Isaiah Martinez.

Mike Campagna served as team manager while Larry Deatherage served as team coach.

“What made the Tecolote all-stars so successful this summer was the great coaching and camaraderie,” Martinez said. “We could count on each other to make the plays and still have fun!”

Seeing red

Tecolote qualified for the West Zone tournament by securing second place in the Southern California Super Region tournament.

The team went through the opening two rounds of the all-star playoffs undefeated and almost made it unscathed through three rounds of playoff competition before finally tasting defeat for the first time in the loss to Long Beach on July 30.

The top two teams from the Super Region tournament advanced to the West Zone tournament. Tecolote captured second place in the tournament with a 6-5 win over Lakeside in a consolation bracket matchup on July 31.

Tecolote started its all-star tournament run by winning the Southwest Section 2 championship by topping Chula Vista South, 8-2, on June 30.

Tecolote finished 3-0 in the four-team double-elimination tournament by also posting wins over Paradise Hills (13-0 on June 26) and Chula Vista South (5-2 on June 28).

Chula Vista South doubled up the Fallbrook Apaches in the elimination bracket final to draw a championship rematch with Tecolote.

The section champions advanced to the Southwest Region tournament hosted July 13-15 by Lakeside. Tecolote finished 3-0 in that tournament as well to win it.

Tecolote defeated Chula Vista North, 15-4, in its first game on July 13, then topped Emerald, 14-8, in its second game on July 14 before defeating Emerald, 11-1, in a rematch in the championship game on July 15.

Emerald defeated Chula Vista North, 17-8, in the elimination bracket to draw a second matchup against Tecolote.

Emerald had previously defeated Chula Vista North, 8-2, in the Section 1 championship game.

Tecolote played a total of five games in the Super Region tournament.

The 16-team Super Region tournament was broken into two divisions each with eight teams.

Tecolote, Orangecrest, Upland, Heartwell, Emerald, Cypress, Quartz Hill and Lakeside all played at the Lakeside site. The second site in Covina included teams from Placentia, Azusa, Simi Valley, Long Beach, Sierra Madre, Ventura, Corona and host Covina.

Tecolote won its opening three games in its eight-team division by defeating Orangecrest (5-4 on July 26), Heartwell (11-1 on July 28) and Emerald (8-1 on July 29).

Long Beach, likewise undefeated with three consecutive wins in its bracket in Covina, topped Tecolote in the Super Region championship game to advance to the West Zone tournament.

The loss forced Tecolote to play a runner-up game the following evening against Lakeside, which defeated Ventura, 6-3, earlier in the afternoon.

In the win over Lakeside, Tecolote scored six runs on 11 hits while making two errors.

The Tecolote all-stars scored three runs in the third inning, with Campagna, Nunes and Martinez powering the big inning each with a RBI.

Campagna, Sardo and Bibler each collected multiple hits for Tecolote in the game. Campagna led the team with three hits in four at-bats.

Wild West Showcase

The West Zone tournament, which ran Aug. 2-5, featured eight teams from four states.

Four teams were from California – Long Beach, Tecolote Red, Ceres Blaze (Northern California) and host West Hills. Out-of-state teams entered in the tournament were from Utah (Orem), Arizona (South East Valley), Hawaii (Maui) and Washington (South Sound).

Tecolote won its opening three games at the West Zone tournament to advance to the championship game.

Tecolote got out to a fast start by topping Ceres in its first game last Thursday, making the most of two hits to defeat the Blaze 4-0.

Bibler accounted for four RBI in the game to lead Tecolote. Meanwhile, Taylor pitched seven innings, throwing 20 first-pitch strikes while scattering six hits to pick up the win on the mound.

Tecolote scored all four of its runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to snap a scoreless deadlock.

 Tecolote continued its fast start by defeating tourney host West Hills, 7-0, in a second-round game last Friday.

Tecolote survived an early scare in a semifinal rematch against Ceres on Saturday, winning 8-5 to advance to West Zone Pony-14 championship game

The Blaze scored five runs in the top of the first inning to put the San Diego team in a quick deficit but Tecolote charged back with three runs in the bottom of the third inning and two more in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game.

Tecolote then tacked on three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to complete its comeback victory and, in the process, advance to Sunday’s West Zone championship game.

Both teams finished the game with 11 hitswhile Tecolote Red committed two errors.

Camden Miller (Blaze) and Campagna (Tecolote) led their respective teams with three hits. Campagna finished the game with three RBI. Bibler also had two RBI for Tecolote.

Bibler (3.2 innings) and Campagna (2.2 innings) combined on the hill to pitch Tecolote to the win. Gabrial Lopez pitched four innings for Ceres, recording 19 first-pitch strikes; Bibler had 10 first-pitch strikes.

Tecolote improved to 3-0 in the West Zone tournament while the Blaze was eliminated with the loss.

 Meanwhile, Long Beach, which opened the tournament with a 20-0 win over Washington last Thursday, eliminated Utah on the strength of a 13-3 win on Saturday morning and then forced a semifinal rematch against Maui with a 2-1 win over the Hawaii team later that evening.

Maui had previously edged Long Beach, 6-5, in a winners bracket game last Friday.

Three teams remained in the tournament heading into the final day of competition: Tecolote (3-0), Long Beach (3-1) and Maui (2-1).

 Long Beach poured across five runs in the top of the seventh inning in Sunday’s semifinal matchup against Maui to escape with a 13-10 victory and advance to meet Tecolote in Sunday afternoon’s championship game.

Ryan Skjonsby led Long Beach in the dramatic come-from-behind win over Maui with five RBI while teammate Bren Wilkinson collected four RBI.

Long Beach led 5-0 early in the game before Hawaii erupted for nine runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 10-8 lead.

Vincent Iwamura led Maui with three RBI in the loss, which eliminated the Hawaii team from championship contention.

Long Beach’s bats had little time to cool off and they didn’t as Long Beach proceeded to top Tecolote in the championship game to earn the West Zone’s single bid to the 2018 Pony League World Series.

Myles Patton drove in four runs to lead Long Beach in Sunday’s second game while teammate Ryan Geck collected three RBI. Geck led all players in the game with three hits.

The San Diego team took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning but Long Beach quickly countered with three runs of its own in the top of the third inning.

The West Zone champions tacked on three more runs in the top of the fifth inning and scored three times in the top of the seventh inning.

Jack Dhein pitched six innings for Long Beach, striking out four Tecolote batters.

Nunes pitched 5.1 innings for Tecolote, striking our four batters, while Martinez pitched 1.2 innings with two strikeouts. Nunes threw 14 first-pitch strikes in the game.

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