Why not start off with the most incredible run of the World Series, if not in USSSA Southern California history. The 7-Under San Diego Stars knew from the get go that they would have their work cut out for them with some of the strongest programs in Southern California all meeting on the fields. Rather than me write about the week, Coach Gabriel from the San Diego Stars sent in his full recap of the week.
San Diego Stars – The Long Road
Incredible week of baseball at the 7U World Series in West Covina, California. The San Diego STARS got off to a very rocky start to the World Series going 0 – 4 in pool play. As if losing all 4 of their pool games was not challenging enough, the STARS began Friday’s by losing their 1st game in the double elimination phase to the FCBA Cobras 8 – 0. Now in the Losers Bracket, the climb began with the afternoon win, the team’s first of the tournament...STARS 9 – NLB Baseball 1...bringing Friday to a close.
Saturday morning saw a shake-up in the lineup and a need to win 3 games in one day...the challenge of the “losers bracket”. Game one of the day against the tournament #1 seed – Pico Pride. STARS jump out early and win 11-3. 2 wins in a row. Game two of the day...rematch against the FCBA Cobras. Different result...STARS 10, Cobras 2. 3 wins in a row. The third game of the day against the #2 seed in the tournament, Chino Hills Thunder. STARS win again 17 – 3. 4 wins in a row.
Now the tournament is down to only 2 teams to play on Sunday. The STARS will have to beat their arch rival SGV Hustle from San Gabriel Valley. The organization that just two weeks earlier, in the semi-finals in East Cobb, Georgia, knocked the STARS out of the 10U World Series.
Let the games begin!
The first game saw the STARS jumping out in front and never looking back. STARS win 9 – 2. 5 wins in a row. So it all comes down to one game.
THE GAME! Once again the STARS jump in front 4 - 0, but for the first time in the last 6 games the opponent goes ahead by scoring 9 runs. The STARS fight back to tie the game at 9 – 9. In the bottom of the 5th inning the Hustle go up 13 – 9. Top of the 6th...just 3 outs left.
THE FINAL INNING!!. Here we go...first batter for the STARS grounds out to shortstop. Then single, hit batter, single, error, single makes the score 13 – 11. Then a strikeout for the 2nd out of the inning. Still 2 men on base...down 2 runs. Next batter is down to his final strike...singles. Runner scores...now 13 – 12. Next batter with 2 strikes...down to his final strike drives in the tying run. 13 – 13! Next batter singles...STARS take the lead 14 – 13. Then a walk to re-load the bases. Singles drives in 2 more 16 – 13. Another single drives in the final run 17 – 3. All this with 2 outs and down to our final strike...twice. The Hustle go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 6th inning. Game over!! 6 wins in a row.
In my 25 years of running the San Diego STARS this is the most amazing week of baseball I’ve ever experienced.
Congrats to the boys,
Coach Gabriel has been running the San Diego Stars for well over 25 years, so when he says that this was the most incredible week of baseball that he has experienced, you know it’s true.
I had the pleasure of watching the final game with SGV Hustle, and it really was of the most exciting baseball games I’ve ever seen.
Southern California 8-Under baseball is one of the most competitive divisions in probably the entire country. The World Series was no different. Twelve of the fifteen teams were ranked in the top 15 on usssa.com.
After pool play games on Tuesday and Wednesday, Seeds 1-8 advanced to the Championship Playoffs, and seeds 9-15 advanced to the Consolation Playoffs. 9th Seed So Cal Outlaws Blue had a bye for the quarter finals, and used that extra rest to their advantage. After cruising through their semifinal game, they faced Torrance Tribe in the Finals. Torrance Tribe had a battle in their semi-final game with The Hawaii Bombers. Hawaii fought hard, but was unable to hold off Torrance Tribe who won 6-5. With the top two seeds in the Championship Game, the higher seed took command early and never looked back, giving So Cal Outlaws Blue the Consolation Championship Win.
|Torrance Tribe and Hawaii Bombers hanging loose|
The Championship Bracket was complete toss-up. Any team had a very good possibility of taking home first place, and when you have first round matchups between Tomateros and Easton Elite, or Sun Devils and Oakley Stingrays, it was definitely an incredibly competitive and emotional playoffs. Both the Tomateros and Sun Devils advanced after their first games to face each other in the quarterfinal game. This would turn out to be the same matchup in the Championship Games, but not after Tomateros had to make a three win run in the Loser’s Bracket, beating longtime rivals SGV Hustle, Easton Elite, and So Cal Bombers.
|Tomateros on Sunday|
With one loss, the Tomateros would have to beat Sun Devils twice to claim first place. At 8:00 AM on Sunday, they came ready to play, shutting out the Sun Devils 9-0 to win the first game. Sun Devils weren’t going to let that happen twice though. After a break between games, and some food in their stomachs, Sun Devils woke up and came back as a different team, ready to play. They went up 4-0 early, looking to make it an easy win, but Tomateros we’re going to make it easy. They scored 3 in the third inning to make it 4-3. In the fifth inning however, Sun Devils put up three runs to make it 7-3, the final score of the game.
With only 8 teams in the 9-Under, every team made the Championship Playoffs. The first game of Friday started off a chain of rematches from Pool Play that mostly ended with payback from the previous game. Metro Punks and Dirt Dawgs faced each other at 8:30 AM on Friday morning. These two had faced other in their final pool play game, with Dirt Dawgs winning 5-1. Metro Punks were not ready to let that happen again, taking home an 8-6 win to advance to the quarter finals to face 2nd Seed Oakley Stingrays Black and sending the Dirt Dawgs to the Loser’s Bracket. Oakley Stingrays would beat the Metro Punks to move on to the semifinals where they would face 1st Seed Murrieta Menace. A 7-3 victory would send them to the Championship Game where they would face the Dirt Dawgs.
The Dirt Dawgs, after losing the first game of playoffs, clawed their way through the Loser’s Bracket with four straight wins, including knocking out the Metro Punks, who sent them to the Loser’s Bracket initially, and by upsetting Murrieta Menace, who had beaten them in Pool Play. Making it all the way to the Championship Game, they came up just short against Oakley. Oakley was able to hold off the surging Dirt Dawgs 8-7 to claim the 9-Under AA World Series Championship.
The Lunada Bay Berrics had a secret weapon to help them get through their tough Saturday playoff games. Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda came out to root on the Berrics through their toughest game of the tournament thus far.
|The Lunada Bay Berrics with Hall of Fame Coach Tommy Lasorda|
The Berrics were facing the SGV Sandlot Sharks, who gave them their only loss in Pool Play. After a hard fought 8-Inning game, their secret weapon worked, and the Berrics came out with a 6-5 victory. After the game, Mr. Lasorda hung around to meet the players, fans, and USSSA staff, as well as sign autographs.
|Tommy Lasorda signing autographs for players|
|USSSA Director Don with Tommy Lasorda|
After heading to the Loser’s Bracket, the Sandlot Sharks wanted one more chance at the Berrics. Facing the Hawaii Bombers for a chance to head to the Championship, they were able to win a hard fought 3-1 game. This gave the Hawaii Bombers the third place trophy to take back to Hawaii.
Heading into the final game, the Berrics didn’t have Mr. Lasorda cheering them on on Sunday. Lunada Bay jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first. The Sandlot Sharks responded with one run of their own in the bottom of the second to make it 2-1. Lunada then broke the game open, scoring 4 runs in the next two innings to give them a 6-1 lead. The Sharks weren’t ready to give up yet. In the bottom of the sixth inning, they put together a three run rally making the game 6-4. Lunada Bay then brought in their closer to get the last two outs. He had no problem doing that, and giving the Berrics the 10-Under World Series Championship
|Lunada Bay Berrics and Ohana Baseball posing for a photo|
The 11-Under AA Consolation Bracket was full of upsets all over the place. Rawlings Sandlot upset Metro Trojans to move to the semifinal game where they faced Gonzos, all the way from Hawaii. Rawlings had to hold off a four run last inning rally by Gonzos to win a close 8-7 game to head to the finals. On the other end of the bracket, Menifee Mayhem upset the Rebel of South County, all the way from Washington to head to the Semifinals. After winning their semifinal game, they had to face Rawlings in the Championship Game. Mayhem jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Rawlings answered back with 4 runs in the bottom of the third to make it 4-2. Rawlings brought in a new pitcher to shut down Mayhem for the last three innings, and he did his job. Rawlings Sandlot won the Consolation bracket with a 4-2 final score.
the Championship Playoffs, the Xplosion had hands down one of the toughest
weeks of any team in the tournament.
Their first playoff game was against HB Red Blaze. The two teams had met in their final pool
play game on Wednesday where Xplosion got the best of them with a 4-2 win. After the day off though, Red Blaze was nice
and rested and got payback against Xplosion.
This sent Xplosion to the Loser’s Bracket. On Friday they won their first game easily
11-3. On Saturday they won two more
games to advance to the quarter finals in the Loser’s Bracket. Sunday had the potential to be a long day
for Xplosion. They would have to win 4
consecutive games to claim the Championship.
|Rawlings Sandlot after winning the Consolation Championship|
They won their first game on a forfeit, saving them some pitching, which helped them when they faced 2nd Seed Vicious BBC. After going up 5-0 against Vicious, Vicious scored 6 runs in the bottom of the fourth to go up 6-5. Xplosion wasn’t going to let get them down though. They immediately tied it up in the top of the fifth, and scored 3 runs in the top of the sixth to take a 9-6 lead, which would be the final score for the game. That win sent them to the Championship game, where they would face none other than HB Red Blaze.
|An Xplosion player getting picked off in their game against Vicious BBC|
HB Red Blaze played great baseball through the playoffs. As the 12th Seed, they upset the 1st Seed Pass Heat, 6th Seed So Cal Bad Company, and 2nd Seed Vicious BBC to advance to the finals against Xplosion. Xplosion had momentum on their side having played two games already on Sunday. They took an early 4-0 lead over Red Blaze. Red Blaze finally found their bats, scoring 6 runs in the top of the fourth inning. Xplosion, not to be out done tied it up in the bottom of the inning at 6-6. Heading into extra innings, Red Blaze scored on a bases loaded ground ball to the short stop, giving them a 7-6 lead. Xplosion had one last inning to work some magic. With a runner on third, the batter laid down a suicide squeeze bunt that got to the first basemen a little too quickly. He threw it to the catcher who blocked the plate to keep Xplosion from tying up the game yet again. Two outs later HB Red Blaze clinched the championship. Congratulations to both teams for incredible play off baseball.
After going 1-2 through Pool Play, the Solano Dragons didn’t want to leave Southern California without a trophy. After beating Eastvale Expos in what was a rematch from their last pool play game, they had to upset the top seed in the Consolation Bracket to advance to the final. They weren’t going to let that scare them though, and with a 7-3 victory, they advanced to the finals to face Whittier Kaos White.
Kaos was looking to end Solano’s push, and scored 5 runs in the first two innings to take a 5-0 lead. Solano didn’t get discouraged though. They chipped away with 1 in the top of the fourth before waking their bats up in the top of fifth. After stringing together a couple hits, Kaos switched pitchers to try to stop the rally, but it was too late. The Dragons put up 7 runs, making the score 8-5. They brought in their closer who shut down Kaos in the bottom of the fifth and sixth to win the Consolation Championship.
All too often in Championship Playoffs, the 1st Seed can be a little worn out from Pool Play games. They may have used that extra pitcher or played extra hard to get that last win, then come playoffs they’re spent and don’t play well. This was not one of those times in the 12-Under Championship Playoffs. So Cal Pride clinched the 1st Seed with a 3-0 record giving up only 4 runs in Pool Play. Heading into playoffs, they kept that streak alive, winning three games to make it to the Championship. To make it to the finals, they had to take on 6th Seed So Cal Riot. So Cal Pride won, sending the Riot to the Loser’s bracket.
Down in the Loser’s Bracket, Hawaii Bombers were making a strong push to make it to the finals by taking the long road. They won three straight games to advance to the Quarter Final game where they met their Hawaiian brothers in Hekili. The game would wind up being a pitching duel, with the game tied 1-1 through five innings. With Hekili’s pitcher ran out of innings, they had to bring in a relief pitcher. The Bombers jumped on the new pitcher scoring 1 run in the top of the sixth inning, and holding on to that one run lead to win 2-1 and head to the Semifinal game.
They would have to meet So Cal Riot, freshly sent to the Loser’s Bracket by So Cal Pride. Bombers and Riot battled back and forth the whole game. 2-2 after the first. 6-5 after the third. 6-6 after the fifth. Heading into extra innings, So Cal Riot was able to finally get the rally they needed, and scored the game winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
Congratulations to both Hawaii teams, who took the 3rd and 4th place trophies back to Hawaii with them.
|Hawaii Bombers with their 3rd Place trophies|
The championship game was set, a rematch of the quarter final game in the Winner’s Bracket. So Cal Pride had gotten the best of the Riot the first matchup, but the Riot weren’t going to let them win this one without a fight. Riot jumped out to a small lead in the bottom of the first, scoring one run. Pride responded with 4 runs in the top of the second, but Riot was right back on top with 4 runs of their own. Low on pitching, Riot started running into trouble. Pride put up 2 in the fourth inning and 4 in the fifth inning. Riot was only able to score one more, making the final score 10-6 So Cal Pride.
|So Cal Pride were undefeated all weekend to take home the first place trophy|
The 13-Under Consolation Playoffs ended with a rematch of a Pool Play game from two out of town teams. Deming Sluggers and San Jose Cardinals had met in pool play on Tuesday. San Jose Cardinals were able to walk away with a 10-9 win. The Cardinals had every intention of repeating that outcome. They scored 2 runs in the first, and 2 more in the third. In the top of the fifth inning, the Sluggers were finally able to string some hits together against the Cardinal’s starting pitcher, bringing in one run. They scored 2 more runs the next inning, but were unable to keep the rally going. The Cardinal’s pitcher, pitching the entire game, shut down the Sluggers in the Seventh Inning, giving the Cardinals the Consolation Championship
The Bulldogs Blue, from Sumner, Washington, took the roundabout way to get to the Championship game. Losing their second game to So Cal Dream, they got dropped down to the Loser’s Bracket. They won their first two games before having to face So Cal Dream again. So Cal Dream got knocked to the Loser’s Bracket by High Desert Flames, who advanced to the Championship game with that win. The Bulldogs weren’t going to let Dream get the best of them again, and with a 13-7 win, they advanced to the Championship Game against High Desert Flames.
Coming up through the Loser’s Bracket meant the Bulldogs would have to win two straight games in order to win the Championship. They were ready for this. The Flames could never find their footing on Sunday, and The Bulldogs won two straight games to win the Championship and take the beautiful first place trophy back to Washington with them.
Thank you to all the teams that traveled to participate in the 2012 World Series. It was an incredible week of baseball. Here are the Champions and Runner Ups for the World Series:
See you on the fields for the 2013 Season!-AC
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