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World Series memories: Park View, CV North players have grown up Phillip Brents | Thu, May 22 2014 11:58 PM

Fans of youth baseball in South County will immediately recognize the names and maybe even the faces, though they have changed somewhat over the past few years.

They are the region’s World Series royalty, and that’s something time will never dull.

Bonita Vista High School senior Seth Godfrey admitted that 20 years from now while he will likely still be thinking about playing in high school with his friends, he will always have a special memory about playing in and winning the Little League World Series with Park View’s celebrated Blue Bombers in 2009.

That was a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he said matter-of-factly.

BVHS teammate Daniel Schneemann, a member of Chula Vista North’s 2010 Pony-13 World Series championship team, concurred with Godfrey’s statement.

“It was the best experience of playing baseball so far,” Schneemann said, flashing a wide, memory-beckoning grin.

Godfrey and Schneeemann were part of an on-field reunion of former Park View and Chula Vista North World Series champions during a Metro-Mesa League baseball game pitting the Eastlake Titans and host Bonita Vista Barons on May 8.

Eight players with World Series championship fame — four from each team — lined up for an impromptu post-game photo session following the Barons’ 4-0 victory. While the faces on the Eastlake side of the reunion might not have been as upbeat, when the payers saw each other being called out, they all broke into smiles.

Luke Ramirez, who became one of Park View’s biggest media darlings during the team’s LLWS championship run in South Williamsport, Pa., is now a senior at Eastlake High School. He and Godfrey exchanged an exuberant handshake to denote the moment.

Five years later, baseball is still very much in their blood.

“Yeah, it’s kind of cool whenever we face each other now on our high school teams, especially if it’s when I’m hitting and Andy Rios (of Mater Dei Catholic High School) is pitching,” said Ramirez, who intently followed the fortunes of last year’s Eastlake Little League U.S. national Little League World Series championship team. “We all get a kick out of it.”

Ramirez is listed at 6-3 and 225 pounds on the EHS roster. He was man-sized five years ago while helping lead Park View to its monstrous achievement.

Godfrey hasn’t had the good fortune in high school that Ramirez has had, though he has stuck with his game plan and hopes to continue playing the game at higher levels.

Many of the Park View players continued playing in high school, though not immediately at the varsity level. Some couldn’t keep up with the pace or the other responsibilities that go with playing a CIF sport and are no longer playing at the prep level.

Some even found stardom in other sports, particularly football, such as Bulla Graft (Bishop’s) and Jensen Peterson (Otay Ranch).

Others have clearly caught the spotlight. St. Augustine High School senior Kiko Garcia, Park View’s winning pitcher in the LLWS championship game against Chinese Taipei, recently signed a national letter of intent to continue his baseball career at Pepperdine University.
A check of last spring’s All-Mesa League baseball team reveals that Rios was a second team pick and Ramirez earned honorable mention honors, both as underclassmen.
In Eastlake’s first game against Bonita Vista on May 6, Ramirez, who is playing on the Titans this year alongside younger brother Ben, a freshman, clubbed a double and drove in two runs, including the game-winning run in a 6-4 win.

Maroon and Gray
Chula Vista North’s World Series champions are now a mix of juniors and seniors in high school. Tucker Torano, Hudson Pearson and Isaac Vargas represent Eastlake on the high school diamond while Daniel Schneemann, Ricky Reynoso and Brandon Torio sport Bonita Vista uniforms.

Pearson and Reynoso were paired opposite each other on the mound in the teams’ May 8 match-up. Reynoso got the better of his former CVN teammate by tossing a two-hit shutout.

“It was an amazing experience — a once-in-a-lifetime experience to play in the World Series,” Reynoso said. 

"It's something I'll never forget in my life," Vargas said. "I'll always have a great relationship with those guys later in life."

Vargas said he knew right from the start that the Chula Vista North all-star team had what it took to win the Pony-13 World Series.

"I thought from the start that we could go all the way," Vargas said. "We had great team chemistry. The second we started practice, I knew we could do well."

All who were interviewed for this story admitted there are significant differences between playing at the youth level and playing at the high school level, which represents the launching pad to the college and professional ranks.

“Playing the game is the same but playing here (in high school) is more important,” Schneemann said. “In Pony, you are playing for fun; in high school you are fighting for a scholarship.”

"Everything about it is more serious," Vargas noted. "I think the competition is a lot better, you've got to play more aggressively."

One of the biggest differences is the size factor. For those who might have matured early, many no longer have that height advantage at the high school level, especially when competing against upperclassmen.

‘The players have matured,” Reynoso explained. “The level of intensity is brought up. It’s more competitive.”

“It’s definitely a different level,” Godfrey said succinctly.

Reynoso and Godfrey would both like to play at the collegiate level and possibly beyond.

“Hopefully, I can make it big anywhere I go,” Reynoso said. “I want to play my hardest and be recognized for my effort.”

 Reynoso called it a “fun opportunity” to play with and against former CVN teammates.

Torio agreed.

“I’ve grown up with these guys,” Torio noted. “To play with them, we’re bringing back that chemistry.”

Torio, who ranks near the top of the Barons’ hitting chart and can also lend an experienced arm on the mound, has already committed to play at Westmont College.

“I enjoyed the ride — it was a great experience with my teammates,” Torio explained of his Pony-13 World Series conquest. “It’s a lot more serious now. In Pony, it was more for fun.”

Torio said the maturity factor in high school isn’t just physical, but also mental.

“For Pony, I was thinking a lot more of having fun, but now it’s more than just that,” he said. “There are a lot more responsibilities.”

Godfrey said he and his Park View teammates were completely caught unaware by the all the civic hoopla that greeted them upon their return as conquering heroes from the 2009 LLWS.

“It was crazy,” he said. “We had no idea of the kind of support we were getting back home because we weren’t allowed to have any cell phones or any type of social media contact while we were playing.”

And then there was meeting President Obama at the White House.

“It was awesome to see him coming down the hallway to meet us,” Godfrey recalled. “I remember thinking — This is the president of the United States!

Some memories.

Barons keep it rolling
Bonita Vista defeated host Mira Mesa, 3-2, in a non-league game on Tuesday (May 13) to improve to 17-9 overall on the season. Brandon Toro scattered seven hits to go with nine strikeouts to earn the complete game victory.

Chris O’Neill was two-for-two at the plate with a run scored; he drove in the lead run for the Barons in the top of the fourth inning.

Titani-ic win
Eastlake edged Otay Ranch, previously undefeated in league play, 3-2, on Tuesday (May 13) to deadlock the teams with 4-1 records atop the Metro-Mesa standings, with one week left in regular season play.

Julian Escobedo improved to 7-0 on the hill for the Titans (20-5 overall). Freshman Casey Schmitt went two-for-three with three RBI to lead Eastlake.

Otay Ranch dropped to 18-8 overall.

Metro-Pacific League

Chula Vista improved to 3-0 in Metro-Pacific League play, 10-16 overall, after topping visiting Sweetwater on Tuesday (May 13). Nigel Tavares picked up the win for the Spartans. The Red Devils dropped to 1-2 in league play, 8-16 overall.

Hilltop defeated visiting Castle Park, 5-1, on Monday (May 12) to improve to 2-1 in league play, 9-17 overall. Mario Murillo was credited with a complete game victory. The Trojans fell to 0-3 in league play, 6-17 overall.

 

Metro Conference Baseball Standings
Metro-Pacific League
Final Regular Season

x-Bonita Vista Barons 6-2, 19-9
Eastlake Titans 5-3, 21-7
Otay Ranch Mustangs 5-3, 21-8 (excluding forfeits)
Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders 2-6, 10-17
Olympian Eagles 2-6, 11-6
x-league champion

Monday, May 19
Mater Dei Catholic 7, Olympian 2

Tuesday, May 20
Bonita Vista 5, Otay Ranch 4
Olympian 2, Eastlake 1

Wednesday, May 21
Otay Ranch 6, Eastlake 4

Thursday, May 22
Bonita Vista 8, Otay Ranch 4
Eastlake 4, Olympian 0

 

Metro-Pacific League
x-Hilltop Lancers 4-2, 11-18
Sweetwater Red Devils 3-3, 10-17
Chula Vista Spartans 3-3, 10-19
Castle Park Trojans 2-4, 8-18
x-league champion

Tuesday, May 20
Hilltop 6, Chula Vista 1
Castle Park 3, Sweetwater 2

Wednesday, May 21

Hilltop 2, Castle Park 1
Sweetwater 2, Chula Vista 1

Thursday, May 22
Hilltop 5, Chula Vista 1
Castle Park 3, Sweetwater 0

 

Metro-South Bay League
x-Montgomery Aztecs 5-0, 16-8-2
San Ysidro Cougars 4-2, 17-12
Mar Vista Mariners 2-4, 16-13
Southwest Raiders 0-5, 10-17
x-league champion

Monday, May 19
San Ysidro 9, Mar Vista 7

Tuesday, May 20

Mar Vista 8, Southwest 0
Montgomery 8, San Ysidro 3

Thursday, May 22
Montgomery 4, San Ysidro 0
Mar Vista 3, Southwest 2

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