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Pony World Series dream remains alive for Chula Vista teams Phillip Brents | Fri, Aug 12 2011 02:00 AM

Chula Vista North-Maroon and Chula Vista South have advanced to compete in this weekend’s Pony-14 Super Region tournament. The top two teams from the 16-team tournament go on to play in the Western Zone tournament — one step away from the Pony League World Series slated in mid-August in Washington, Pa.

The two Chula Vista teams, along with Alpine, advanced from the Southwest Region tournament held July 13-18 in Lakeside.

Chula Vista North-Maroon stormed back from an earlier 6-2 setback to Chula Vista South to top their inter-city rivals in two dramatic must-win games to claim this year’s region banner. CVN-Maroon defeated CVS, 8-1, on Monday to force a second championship game in the double-elimination tournament.

CVN-Maroon won the title with an 11-7 decision following the first title-round match-up.
“It was back and forth for the first couple innings,” CVN-Maroon manager Joel Corona said. "We tied the game three times. In the fifth inning, we finally broke through.”

Justin Sparby started the game for CVN-Maroon in the climactic finale and pitched the opening two innings before yielding the mound to Andy Rios, one of two players on the team to win a Little League World Series championship title with Park View in 2009.

Rios and Sparby are among 10 players on the current CVN-Maroon team who were members of last year’s CVN Pony-13 World Series championship team.

Rob Weissenfels hurled a complete game victory, striking out seven hitters, and Brandon Torio drove in four runs, including a pair on a home run, in the opener of Monday’s championship twin bill to put CVN-Maroon in position to grab its second consecutive championship tournament banner.

CVN-Maroon defeated CV South to claim the Southwest Region South District title earlier this month at Eucalyptus Park.

The top three teams from the Southwest Region tournament advanced to the Super Region.
Chula Vista North-Maroon topped Alpine, 7-0, in Sunday’s challenger bracket final to get another shot at CVS.

Alpine lost, 8-5, to CVS on Sunday to drop to the challenger bracket final, with no worse than a third-place showing guaranteed.

Chula Vista North sent two teams to the regional tourney. CVN-Grey finished third at the district finals and went 1-2 at the region finals with a 7-4 opening victory against Vista on July 13, followed by losses to Alpine (7-5 on July 15) and to host Lakeside (3-2 on July 15).

Both CVN-Maroon and CV South won their opening games in the region tournament. CVN-Maroon topped Ramona, 5-2, while CV South shut out Lakeside, 3-0, in games played July 14.

CVS took the first of what would later prove to be three meetings between their “Civil War” rival in the tournament with a four-run victory on July 16.

Suddenly faced with elimination, CVN-Maroon battled back to go 3-0 in the challenger bracket to gain a championship game berth opposite CV South. CVN-Maroon eliminated Vista, 13-3, on July 16 and then topped Lakeside, 6-5, the next day before shutting down Alpine.

Among other players making contributions in Monday’s championship series sweep was CVN-Maroon’s Adrian Ventura, who rapped out three hits, including two doubles, and drove in a run  in the first game.

Rios struck out five batters and allowed only three hits while knocking in four runs in the series finale. Weissenfels and Hudson Pearson each scored three runs.

“The key was for us to get (a win in) the first game,” Corona said. “After we got the first game, we went into the second game feeling strong. They (CVN-Maroon players) showed a lot of heart.”

Despite finishing second at the regional tournament, Chula Vista South has just as good a shot as CVN-Maroon at advancing to the West Zone finals.

The 16 teams at the Super Region finals (July 28 to Aug. 2)are divided into two brackets. The three San Diego County qualifiers will compete in the eight-team A-bracket in Whittier while the other eight teams will compete in the B-bracket I Camarillo.

The top two teams from each bracket advance to a final-four playoff round, with the top two teams advancing to the West Zone finals Aug 4-9 in Whittier.

A second consecutive Pony World Series bid thus remains alive for CVN-Maroon’s players.
“It’s going to take a lot of focus and playing together as a team," Corona said. “The team discovered that in this last tournament.”

CV North Pony President Saul Corona expressed obvious pleasure with the Pony-14 team’s latest championship trophy.

“Again, I’m pretty pleased how things have gone, especially with this team coming back in the losers bracket the way they did,” the elder Corona said. “We’re proud of them. They showed a lot of heart and desire to get back-to-back wins against Chula Vista South in the championship game. Hopefully, it was a wake-up call.”

For tournament updates, visit the Web site at www.pony.org.

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