From past to present, message is of encouragement to Park View all-stars

PARK VIEW 2009 LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS CONTINUE TO SET EXPECTATIONS

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Former Park View 2009 Little League World Series champion Luke Ramirez was asked to give a pep talk to this year's Park View all-star team prior to its departure for the Little League World Series Western Regional tournament in San Bernardino. Photo by Jon Bigornia

A lot has happened in my life since winning the 2009 Little League World Series as a member of the Park View Little League all-star team. I became an avid golfer, found a fantastic woman and graduated from college.

Nearly a decade later, my achievements in youth baseball are long behind me. But seemingly every August, Little League all-star squads from Chula Vista have made a habit of becoming legitimate contenders in Williamsport.

The memories and feelings from that summer when I was 13 resurface in the form of pride in what my team and I accomplished — not only winning the championship, but forging a legacy and what now seems like an expectation of teams competing in District 42.

“We’re just excited to go out there and try to win like the team did in 2009,” said Jose Mendoza, a member of Park View’s 2018 all-star team.

That pride is extended to the Park View Little League all-star team that has advanced to this week’s Western Regional tournament in San Bernardino. The Green Monsters are just one stage away from reaching the promised land of Little League and playing on youth sports’ grandest stage.

I am now 22 and most of the 2018 Park View team was no older than 3 when my teammate Kiko Garcia hurled strike three to clinch the 2009 Little League World Series title. But reflecting on my experiences makes it easy to empathize with them.

The media circus (which I am now ironically part of) has already descended upon them. The league recently held a pep rally for the team before its departure to San Bernardino as multiple local news channels came to interview the boys.

“The media is all over the place and (the players) have even been practicing their interviews,” former manager Will Bleisch said.

We had it much easier than the teams that went on to follow our path to the Little League World Series. The buzz in the community didn’t really begin until after we won the championship and returned home.

Today, this team has had a microphone held in its face since the roster was announced months ago.

My teammates and I were able to just play baseball without knowing that an entire city would watch our game highlights every night. I think a lot of credit is due to the coaches and parents of this team as well as the players for not getting sucked into the hype and having it negatively impact the ball club.

Many have asked me what advice I would give to the team to help them become world champions. What I feel is most important for any team on this ride is to never once let the positive energy down.

The game of baseball is cruel enough, but in this all-star tournament, things can go south in an instant. It’s easy to put in the work in preparation but what will ultimately separate the winner is who can preserve that positive attitude the longest.

Beyond winning, another vital piece of advice for the 2018 PVLL All-Stars is to take a step back here and there to grasp where they are and what has already been accomplished. In the end, these are just silly games. The true benefit of the experience is building life-long friendships with one another.

Regardless of this team’s outcome, no one will be able to strip them of the bonds they have made. I know that at the drop of a hat, my team would assemble at Andy Rios’ house for tacos, wiffle ball and a day in the pool just like we did dozens of times in our Little League days.

All of that being said, my final message to the team, coaches and family members is “thank you.”

Thank you for continuing the prowess of Little League baseball in our community, and the entire community is proud of and still rooting for you. Somebody has to go and win the whole thing … why can’t it be you?

 

 

Park View Little League entered the Western Regional tournament undefeated. Now the Southern California champions will need to return to their winning ways to avoid early elimination from the six-team tournament in San Bernardino. Photo by Jon Bigornia

Short-shifted Park View team comes up short in loss to Nevada

Perhaps time, including a short respite between games, finally caught up to the Park View Little League Green Monsters in their quest to remain undefeated at this week’s Little League World Series Western Regional championship tournament in San Bernardino.

After blasting Northern California champion Tri-City Little League by a football-like score of 16-8 in a game that ended at 11 p.m. Sunday night, the Green Monsters were slated to play a 4:30 p.m. game the following day against a well-rested Nevada state championship team.

Park View definitely had its moments in Monday’s winners bracket game against Silverado West Little League from Las Vegas but failed to get the timely hit, critical strikeout or make the bang-bang defensive play when it needed to.

The game day temperature of 106 degrees also didn’t help matters.

The result was a 5-3 setback to the Nevada champions that suddenly leaves the previously undefeated Green Monsters on the verge of elimination from the regional tournament.

Park View will be asked to come back to the field at Al Houghton Stadium with another less-than-24-hour turnaround on Tuesday to play Tucson’s Sunnyside Little League, the Arizona state champions, in an 11:30 a.m. contest.

The winner of Tuesday’s elimination game remains alive in the tournament; the loser will see its season end short of the Little League World Series.

Monday’s game was a complete contrast to Sunday’s all-Golden State match-up that saw the Green Monsters rack up 16 hits and slam five home runs against five Tri-City pitchers.

Silverado West held Park View’s mighty bats in check, allowing just two hits in the game. The Nevada champs, meanwhile, collected eight hits and, more importantly, got hits in the clutch to punish the SoCal champs.

Silverado West scored its first two runs with two outs in the first inning and tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the third inning, two of which were scored with two out.

Park View looked to start where it left off in Sunday’s game by loading the bases with two out in the first inning against Nevada starter Kekoa Young. However, Young ended the inning on a comebacker.

Young threw hard with a rapid-fire turnaround between pitches but was otherwise erratic with his pitches throughout his three innings on the mound. He issued two walks in the first inning and issued three consecutive free passes with one out in the top of the third inning.

Allan Camarillo scored on a wild pitch and pinch-hitter Joseph Anderson, who had to leave Sunday’s game with a hand injury, stroked a double just inside the right field line to bring home two more runners and place Park View in the lead at 3-2.

Joseph Anderson, who left Sunday’s game with an apparent hand injury, returned as a pinch-hitter in Monday’s game, delivering a two-run double to temporarily give the Green Monsters a 3-2 lead in the game. Photo by Jon Bigornia

But Green Monsters starter Jose Mendoza, who many observers consider to be the team’s ace, ran into some misfortune in the bottom of the frame.

Mendoza had started the game in splendid fashion, using five pitches to get two outs before a couple of fielding misplays on hard hit balls led to two runs.

Mendoza retired the first batter in the bottom of the third inning but allowed a base hit through the hole to Young. Aidan Skinner couldn’t make a tough catch in left field and Oliver Makanui followed with a hit to load the bases.

Mendoza managed to get a force out at first base, though yielding a run to Silverado West to tie the score 3-3.

Broc Snider, the next batter, produced the big hit of the game by depositing a line drive into right field. One run scored and another runner came around on a fielding miscue.

5-3 Nevada.

Park View had trouble getting the ball out of the infield for most of the game. When a Green Monster hitter did appear to get the barrel of the bat on the ball, it fell short of the outfield fence.

Alonzo stroked a solid single with one out in the top of the sixth inning to bring the potential tying run to the plate. But Matt Bjornstad’s blast into right field found a Nevada player’s glove and Atticus Gates struck out to end the game.

It was the first loss for Park View after 12 consecutive wins.

Park View manager Jorge Camarillo was straightforward and succinct in dissecting the game in a post-game media interview.

“We played a very good Silverado West team,” the Green Monsters skipper said. “They executed and took advantage of our mistakes.

“All summer (having gone undefeated) … we were due for a bad game. Sure, it hurts. But Arizona is not going to feel sorry for us.”

If Park View is to advance in the tournament, it will need to string together a series of gritty wins without must rest time.

Tuesday’s winners (Tri-City tests Utah in the other elimination game) meet for an elimination game on Wednesday.

The winner of Wednesday’s game gets one day of rest and will face the loser of Thursday’s winners bracket semifinal matchup between Nevada and Hawaii (which defeated Utah, 8-2, earlier on Monday) in the elimination bracket final on Friday.

It’s back to the batters box on Saturday for the tournament championship game.

The Green Monsters (12-1) are taxed with winning their next four games in order to punch their ticket to the 2018 Little League World Series. Can it be done? One of the team’s strengths is its resiliency.

If the pitching, hitting and fielding can all return to form, a refocused Park View team will be hard to beat.

But it’s now time to test that, starting Tuesday morning.

Extra bases
Mendoza pitched five complete innings, throwing 92 pitches. He threw 17 first-pitch strikes and finished the game with eight strikeouts.

Young struck out five batters in three innings while reliever Connor Apeceche logged four strikeouts in three innings.

Apeceche and Makanui led the Nevadans with two hits apiece in the sparsely attended game.

Michael Rodriguez, who blasted three home runs and collected eight RBI in Sunday’s gargantuan performance, drew a pair of walks in Monday’s contest.

Anderson and Snider each led their respective teams with two RBI.

Monday’s game was the first in the tournament for Silverado West.

Hawaii improved to 2-0 in the tournament after derailing Utah in Monday’s morning contest. The Honolulu team erased a 1-0 Utah lead with four runs in the bottom of the second inning and tacked on two more runs in each of the third and fourth innings to take a commanding 8-1 lead in the contest.

Sean Yamaguchi led Hawaii with three hits while Aukai Kea struck out 10 batters in 5.1 innings. Utah finished the game with just three hits (compared to eight for Hawaii) and committed four errors to jeopardize its chances of winning the game.

— Phillip Brents

 

 

Park View staves off elimination, tops Arizona champs 9-5

The Park View Green Monsters live to play another day after defeating Tucson’s Sunnyside Little League, 9-5, in an elimination game Tuesday morning at the Little League World Series Western Regional tournament in San Bernardino.

Park View advances to meet Rocklin’s Tri-City Little League in an elimination game Wednesday evening at Al Houghton stadium.

Park View defeated Tri-City, 16-8, in Sunday’s tournament opener and needs to do so again if it wants to remain in contention to advance to Saturday’s tournament championship game and stay on the path to a possible Little League World Series berth.

The winner of Wednesday’s game advances to Friday’s elimination bracket semifinal (6 p.m. on ESPN).

Park View and Tri-City are among four teams left in the tournament, joining Hawaii and Nevada. The latter two teams are scheduled to meet in Thursday’s winners bracket semifinal (6 p.m. on ESPN), with the winner advancing to Saturday’s game and the loser dropping to Friday’s elimination bracket semifinal.

Tri-City eliminated Utah, 6-0, in another elimination game Tuesday afternoon.

All six teams that started the Western Regional tournament have battled high temperatures at the San Bernardino playing site.

Tuesday was the roughest day so far, with temperatures reaching 108 degrees.

Both Southern California champion Park View and Arizona champion Sunnyside took the field after a one-and-a-half hour delay after a previous Northwest Regional game between Oregon and Wyoming went long.

Oregon made up an eight-run deficit to eliminate Wyoming, 13-10, and advance to Wednesday’s elimination game against Washington, which topped Alaska, 11-2, in Tuesday evening’s final game at the 8,500-seat Little League complex.

Attendance was once again minimal for day games, though Park View gave its hardy fans something to cheer for early when Jose Mendoza cracked a three-run home run with one out in the bottom of the first inning.

Ivan Rodriguez had opened the frame with a base hit through the left side of the infield and Allan Camarillo reached base when the Tucson third baseman misplayed a bunt attempt.

Michael Rodriguez, who collected three home runs and eight RBI in Sunday’s win, drew a walk to load the bases.

However, one Park View runner was picked off base, leaving just two men on when Mendoza strode up to the plate.

His shot over the right center field fence gave the Green Monsters a welcome 3-0 lead.

Kainoa Baptista drew the starting pitching assignment for Park View (13-1) and pitched well, departing after throwing 52 pitches in 3.1 innings.

The Green Monsters led, 7-0, when Conner Alonzo entered the game in relief.

Park View would eventually extend its lead to 9-0 by the bottom of the fourth inning.

After that, the California District 42 champions encountered some tough breaks, especially in the pitching department, and had to hold on after the Arizona state champs rallied with five runs in the final two frames.

Park View, which was held to just two hits in Monday’s 5-3 loss to Nevada’s Silverado West Little League, collected seven hits in Tuesday’s elimination game. The Green Monsters also took advantage of several miscues by the Tucson team in returning to a more recognizable form to fans who have followed the team’s all-star tournament journey this summer.

Park View scored five runs with two outs — reversing a trend in Monday’s loss to Silverado West that saw the Nevadans score four of their five runs with two down.

Park View broke the game open by scoring four runs in the bottom of the third inning to lead 7-0. Camarillo stroked a one-out hit and Mendoza was intentionally walked with two out. Aidan Skinner followed with a key base hit to make the score 4-0.

Matt Bjornstad then drew a walk to load the bases. Park View subsequently scored two runs on a combination of a wild pitch and passed ball (dropped third strike).

An ensuing base hit by Alonzo upped the Green Monsters’ lead to seven runs.

Baptista kept humming along on the hill, reducing the pressure at the plate for Park View’s batters.

The Green Monsters added two more insurance runs in the next frame as Ivan Rodriguez doubled, Michael Rodriguez reached base on a bloop hit, Mendoza was hit by a pitch, catcher Joseph Anderson hit into a force play to score one run and Bjornstad and Michael Rodriguez successfully executed a double steal.

At this point, Tucson starter Cristobal Lorta departed after throwing 89 pitches and was replaced on the mound by teammate Jovanni Toledo.

Toledo initially experienced control problems, hitting Makai Corpuz on the first pitch to load the bases.

Park View needed to score just one more run to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule. However, Alonzo hit a sharp grounder that was successfully fielded to end the inning.

The inability to end the game early nearly proved costly for the Green Monsters, as Little League games can often radically change course due to pitching issues.

Sunnyside ended Park View’s shutout bid in the top of the fifth inning on a RBI-triple to make the score 9-1. The Arizona team then proceeded to load the bases with none out, forcing Alonzo out of the game.

Camarillo took over on the mound but the Tucson group continued to put the bat on the ball, scoring a pair of additional runs on force plays to climb back into the game at 9-3.

Then one of the more uglier scenes witnessed in a nationally televised Little League game occurred.

Camarillo was hit on the arm by a pitch thrown by Toledo in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Park View player promptly dropped to the ground writhing in pain.

The game was stopped and on-site training staff issued emergency treatment. Out of respect for Camarillo, ESPN did not show replays of the incident.

According to team sources, X-rays were later taken and proved negative, though the Park View player is likely out of the lineup until at least Friday, should the Green Monsters advance that far.

Camarillo’s unexpected exit provided a headache for manager Jorge Camarillo, the player’s father, who had used all his available substitutes by that point in the game.

A conference with the head umpire was called behind the plate and, per Little League rules, Park View was allowed to make a special player substitution.

Atticus Gates, the team’s third baseman, was pressed into emergency pitching duty.

Gates had a tough baptism of fire by allowing a scratch single and towering home run to narrow the score to 9-5.

Gates issued two more walks in the frame to make viewers at home squirm in their seats before Skinner made a sliding catch in left center field on a hard-hit ball to end the game.

The catch had to draw a huge sigh of relief from the entire Park View Nation.

The elder Camarillo admitted playing in the high temperatures presented a severe challenge for his team.

“It was rough to get through it but we grinded it out every inning,” the Park View skipper said in a post-game media conference.

In assessing the team’s continued journey through the elimination bracket, the elder Camarillo said the object is to simply out-score the opponent.

“It doesn’t really matter what the score is at this point,” he said.

In other words: just win, baby.

Extra bases
Ivan Rodriguez led all players in Tuesday’s game with two hits while Mendoza lead all players with three RBI.

Lorta threw 11 first-pitch strikes while Baptista threw nine first-pitch strikes. Both hurlers finished the game with four strikeouts.

Arizona finished the tournament 0-2 while Park View improved to 2-1 in regional play.

Tri-City fired a no-hiyter at Utah on Tuesday to eliminate the Cedar City Little League team (0-2) from the tournament. Nathan Erickson (5.2 innings) and Tanner Dykstra (0.1 inning) combined on the no-hitter. Erickson struck out 13 batters in the game.

Aiden Weissenberg-Frost, who started Sunday’s game against Park View and hit a home run, led the Northern California champions with three hits and four RBI.

The Rocklin team improved to 1-1 in regional play. Hawaii (2-0) and Nevada (1-0) both remain undefeated at the San Bernardino tourney.

— Phillip Brents

 

Track the tournament:

LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL 2018
WESTERN REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Aug. 5-11 in San Bernardino

Games of Sunday, Aug. 5:
Hawaii 7, Arizona 3
Southern California 16, Northern California 8

Games of Monday, Aug. 6:
Hawaii 8, Utah 2
Nevada 5, Southern California 3

Games of Tuesday, Aug.7:
Elimination bracket game: Park View (Southern California) 9, Sunnyside (Arizona) 5
Elimination bracket game: Tri-City (Northern California) 6, Orem (Utah) 0

Games of Wednesday, Aug. 8:
Elimination bracket game: Tri-City (Northern California) 7, Park View (Southern California) 5

Games of Thursday, Aug. 9:
Winners bracket semifinal: Hawaii 5, Nevada 1

Games of Friday, Aug. 10:
Elimination bracket semifinal: Northern California 11, Nevada 0

Games of Saturday, Aug. 11:
Championship game: Hawaii 11, Northern California 2

 

LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL 2018
NORTHWEST REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Aug. 5-11 in San Bernardino

Games of Sunday, Aug. 5:
Alaska 2, Oregon 1
Idaho 16, Washington 6

Games of Monday, Aug. 6:
Montana 11, Alaska 0
Idaho 13, Wyoming 1

Games of Tuesday, Aug.7:
Elimination bracket game: Oregon 13, Wyoming 10
Elimination bracket game: Washington 11, Alaska 2

Games of Wednesday, Aug. 8:
Elimination bracket game: Oregon 7, Washington 3

Games of Thursday, Aug. 9:
Winners bracket semifinal: Montana 5, Idaho 2

Games of Friday, Aug. 10:
Elimination bracket semifinal: Idaho 8, Oregon 3

Games of Saturday, Aug. 11:
Championship game: Idaho 2, Montana 0

 

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