This has been an eventful summer for local youth baseball, and the Long Beach PONY 14U All-Stars are the last team standing. They have advanced to the Super-Region every year since winning the World Series in 2008, and they start the 2018 Super-Region tournament on Thursday night in Covina against Simi Valley.
“We have been successful so far because we have so many of the key elements a team needs to successfully navigate the challenges of the PONY tournament structure, as well as the newly implemented pitch count restrictions,” manager Ken Jakemer said. “We have a very deep group of pitchers and a very disciplined bunch of hitters with solid power and speed.”
Long Beach is coming off of a District tournament win earlier this month in which they outscored four opponents 57-5 and beat rival Heartwell 23-1 in the championship game. Long Beach only struck out 15 times in 139 plate appearances.
Guy Quinones led Long Beach with eight hits in 12 at bats during the District tournament. Bren Wilkinson drove in a team-high eight runs. Ryan Geck and Adam Cramer each scored a team-high 10 runs. Geck and Charlie Royle hit home runs.
On the mound, Myles Patton started and won two games for Long Beach while striking out seven in 4.1 innings. He allowed two runs on two hits and three walks. Jake Ehmann, Ryan Skjonsby, Jack Dhein and Jackson Haberland all appeared in two games. Dhein struck out four in two scoreless innings. Eight Long Beach pitchers finished the tournament with a 1.00 team-ERA and 30 strikeouts in 21 innings.
“The players are focused and committed to the team concept,” Jakemer said. “They have true joy and excitement when their replacements do well. All 15 players get along great, and they have developed very strong bonds.”
Jakemer also credited his young assistant coaches Matt Heavin, 24, and Dan Levitt, 29, with developing the All-Stars. Levitt is the pitching coach, and Heavin was a member of the 2008 PONY World Championship team.
Long Beach has been off for 16 days since winning District, but Jakemer said his squad has been getting good competition against each other in practice at Whaley Park.
“I am confident that we will come out ready to continue the strong Long Beach PONY tradition,” Jakemer said.
Long Beach is one of 16 teams in the Super-Region bracket. The top two teams advance to the Zone tournament. Long Beach didn’t reach Zone last year for the first time since 2010.
“Last year was the worst run in 11 years,” Jakemer said. “We will change that this year!”
Long Beach PONY 13U All-Stars
These local All-Stars reached the Zone tournament in Whittier last week, but fell short with a pair of losses to champion Placentia. Long Beach beat Kauai, Hawaii, twice to stay alive in the bracket, but were outscored by Placentia 9-3 in two games. Eli Kasiski led Long Beach with 29 hits and 23 runs scored in 14 tournament games this summer. He also pitched a team-high 17.1 innings with a 3.231 ERA and 22 strikeouts.
Los Altos 12-70 All-Stars
After winning the Cal Ripken Southern California Championships in June, Los Altos hosted the Pacific South West Regional last weekend. The local All-Stars came up short and lost a tie-breaker after pool play.