Bombs away! Park View advances to 12U SoCal championship game


Ecstatic Park View Little League players welcome teammate Ivan Rodriguez to the plate after hitting a grand slam in the second inning of Thursday's Southern California Division III winners bracket final at Aliso Viejo Little League. Photo by Jon Bigornia

It’s starting to become a habit. But Park View Little League’s 12U all-star team doesn’t mind one bit.

Winning never gets old.

Park View reserved a berth for itself in Saturday’s Southern California Division III regional championship game by defeating likewise tourney unbeaten Temple City National, 5-2, in Thursday’s winners bracket final at Aliso Viejo Little League’s Woodfield Park.

Section 7 champion Park View, which improved to 10-0 in summer all-star tournament play, will meet Section 10 champion Huntington Valley in Saturday’s final after Huntington Valley eliminated Section 3 champion Temple City National, 5-3, in a nine-inning contest in Friday’s challenger bracket final.

Huntington Valley is on a win streak after previously defeating Section 4 champion El Segundo, 13-0, in Thursday’s challenger bracket game.

However, Park View is in the driver’s seat in the double-elimination tournament in its bid to advance to the upcoming Little League World Series West Region tournament in San Bernardino. Park View needs just one more win to join previous Park View teams from 2009 and 2016 to play in the San Bernardino tournament.

Huntington Valley must beat Park View twice in order to claim this year’s division title and advance to the LLWS West Region tournament.

Should Park View falter on Saturday, a double-elimination final will be played on Sunday.
Saturday’s game is scheduled for 1 p.m. (Sunday’s game, if needed, is also set for 1 p.m.)

Park View is the only unbeaten team among the two squads left standing in the SoCal regional. The Green Monsters are assured of no worse than a second place finish in the division tournament, but appear to be playing for something higher.

“We are now one win away from reaching San Bernardino, so these are very exciting times at Park View Little League,” Park View Little League President Johnny Fuentes said. “I am very proud of the boys and the coaching staff; they have really done a great job of coaching the boys and the boys have respond to them. We still need one more victory to advance and hopefully we will get that this weekend.”

Ivan Rodriguez staked Park View to a 4-0 lead with a grand slam in the second inning. Photos by Jon Bigornia

Ivan “Big Cat” Rodriguez hit a grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the second inning and the pitching combo of Jose “Guero” Mendoza and Matt Bjornstad took care of the rest to lift Park View to its third consecutive win at the Aliso Viejo tournament.

Allan Camarillo hit a sacrifice fly to score teammate Anthony Leyva as Park View took a 5-0 lead in the fourth inning.

Temple City National broke Park View’s shutout bid with two late runs but could not inch closer on the scoreboard.

Park View starter Jose Mendoza pitched into the third inning of Thursday’s winners bracket contest. Photo by Jon Bigornia

Mendoza, the team’s ace, pitched two-and-one-third innings as Park View’s starter, failing to allow a run. It took 26 pitches to get out of the first inning. Bjornstad came into the game in the third inning and pitched the final three-and-two-third innings to secure the victory that propelled the team into the tournament championship game.

Temple City National used three pitchers in an effort to keep pace with the District 42 champions.

Rodriguez hit the first pitch to clear the bases. He admitted he was just trying to hit a line drive to knock in a run rather than deposit the ball over the fence, which he did instead for four big runs early in the game.

Rodriguez was the hitting star of the game for Park View by going three-for-three at the plate with a run scored and four RBI. Alonzo went two-for-three at the plate while Joseph Anderson went one-for-one.

Matt Bjornstad close out the final four innings to preserve Park View’s 5-2 victory in Thursday’s semifinals. Photo by Jon Bigornia

Bjornstad said the effort his team put into the game urged him “to pitch harder.”

Bjornstad was dominant during his stint on the mound (he is known by his teammates as “Matty Ice”).

“He kept Temple City off balance and was able to secure the game,” Fuentes said.

Players made sure to touch Gerald, the team’s green monster mascot, throughout the game for good luck.

So far, Gerald has provided nothing but positive returns for all the attention.

Because of pitch counts, it is uncertain whether Mendoza or Bjornstad, both of whom registered five strikeouts in Thursday’s game, will be able to pitch again in the SoCal tournament, should it extend to a double-elimination final.

But Park View appears to have plenty of arms to come to the rescue. Kainoa Baptista pitched in Tuesday’s 6-0 win over El Segundo. Mendoza started last Saturday’s tournament opener, a 3-1 win over Section 6 champion San Carlos.

Rodriguez proved he also can pitch after relieving Bjornstad in Park View’s opening win at the section tournament.

Eastlake Little League (2013) and Sweetwater Valley Little League (2015) have also represented District 42 at the LLWS West Region tournament. Park View’s 2018 squad would be the fifth team from the South County-based district to play in the elite tournament since 2009.

Gerald, the Park View Little League Green Monsters’ mascot, has brought nothing but good luck to the team during this year’s 12U all-star tournament run. Photo by Jon Bigornia

More on the Green Monsters mascot
According to team sources, “Monster” started out as Jose Mendoza’s nickname on the team (for obvious reasons). In fact, all the kids have nicknames.

During the District 42  tournament, Kainoa (Island Prime) Baptista said in a post-game TV interview that, “there is more than one monster on this team.” He was right!

From that day forward, the team acquired the Green Monsters nickname.

Not long afterward, Atticus Gates’ mother found the stuffed green monster doll and wrote all the kids’ names and numbers on it. Jordan (Socks) Bleisch, who provides the team’s comic relief, named the monster Gerald after a pet rollie pollie he had when he was little.

Gerald hangs at the door of the dugout during every game, and the kids tap him for good luck whenever they leave the dugout.


Photos by Jon Bigornia


Sweetwater Valley 11U all-stars to play for Southern California state championship after posting third consecutive 2-0 shutout win

Sweetwater Valley’s 11U all-star team remained undefeated in the winners bracket at the Southern California Division III tournament at Temple City American Little League by defeating Encino, 2-0, in Friday’s winners bracket final.

Sweetwater Valley advances to Sunday’s championship game, assured of no worse than a second-place finish in the division.

Game time is 4 p.m. at Live Oak Park.

The District 42 and Section 7 champions will play the winner of Saturday’s challenger bracket game between District 40 champion Encino and District 55 champion Aliso Viejo.

Friday’s shutout win was the third consecutive in the division tournament for Sweetwater Valley, which extended its overall all-star tournament record to 11-1 with the victory.

Pitching has been the key ingredient to the team’s ongoing success, according to league president Arturo Maldonado.

“We’ve leaned on our pitching to stay in the winners bracket,” said Maldonado, who was part of the league’s history-making run to the 2015 Little League World Series at the 12U level. “It was another close game but we prevailed. Both Daniel Sanchez and Zacque Vogel-Fux have carried the load of the pitching because we haven’t had to play every day.”

Sanchez got the win in Friday’s semifinals, tossing a complete game shutout.

“It was an outstanding pitching duel,” Maldonado said in regard to Friday’s intense 2-0 victory. “Him pitching a complete game was the key to everything.”

“The pitching was really solid on both sides in the first two innings,” SVLL manager Mahoe Nakanelua said. “But our bats started to heat up in the third and fourth innings.”

Landon Lozano and Joey Castillo scored for Sweetwater Valley in Friday’s game. Lozano scored on a passed ball while Castillo scored on a base hit by Yenatee Snoh.

Sweetwater Valley did have one close call at the plate but the runner attempting to score on a passed ball was tagged out to preserve the shutout.

Sweetwater Valley has elected to remain in the area in advance of Sunday’s championship rather than travel between the game site and South County. This will allow the District 42 champions a chance to relax and reflect on what they have accomplished so far.

This is as far as the 11U all-star level goes in the Little League International hierarchy, so Sweetwater Valley will end its season at the Temple City American Little League site.

“Encino, the team we played tonight, has to play Aliso Viejo in another game on Friday, and we get the winner of that game,” Nakanelua said. “We’ve definitely got the pitching to hopefully bring a championship home.”



Eastlake Little League 10U all-stars end tournament run in Southern Cal Division III challenger bracket

Eastlake Little League 10U all-star team manager Adam Villarreal called Wednesday’s elimination game against Section 10 champion Huntington Valley at the Southern California Division III tournament at El Cerrito Sports Park in Corona an “extremely tough day.”

Eastlake dropped a 5-4 decision to Huntington Valley to suffer elimination from the 10-team regional state championship tournament.

The District 42 and Section 7 champions battled to the final six teams in the division but could not find the answer to slip into the elite cadre of final four teams following Wednesday’s slate of games.

“We were in it till the very last pitch,” Villarreal said. “The game was tied 4-4 going into the bottom of the sixth inning.”

Josh Alo and Noah Cook pitched extremely well for Eastlake in the must-win game.

Noah Flores (two-for-two) led the team’s offense while Armando Mendivil, Hamza Hatahet, Cook and Jake Serrano each contributed with hits as well.

“It was an extremely difficult loss, but these 10-year-olds all have a bright future ahead of them,” the Eastlake manager said. “This is just the beginning. They’ll learn from this experience and come back twice as strong next year. My coaches Tom Alo and Chris Holtzapple were fantastic to work with and would jump a the chance to work again with them.”

Eastlake finished the all-star tournament season with an overall 9-2 record, including an undefeated run through the district and section tournaments.

The District 42 champions dropped last Saturday’s opening game in the Division III tournament, 7-2 to Section 5 champion Golden Hills, but rallied with consecutive wins in the elimination bracket to remain in championship contention.

Eastlake defeated Section 9 champion Eastvale, 12-6, on Monday and blanked Section 8 champion Vineyard, 7-0, on Tuesday.

“It was a great ride,” Villarreal said.



Southern California Division III
Little League Championship Tournament

10U All-Star Division
(El Cerrito Sports Park, Corona)

Saturday, July 21
Santa Maria Northside (Section 1) 4, Upland Foothill (Section 3) 1
Golden Hill (Section 5) 7, Eastlake (Section 7) 2

Sunday, July 22
North Park (Section 6) 17, Vineyard (Section 8) 8
Santa Maria Northside (Section 1) 10, Eastvale (Section 9) 0
Huntington Valley (Section 10) 8, El Segundo (Section 4) 4
Golden Hill (Section 5) 6, Pasadena American (Section 2) 1

Monday, July 23
Eastlake (Section 7) 12, Eastvale (Section 9) 6
Pasadena (Section 2) 9, Upland Foothill (Section 3) 6

Tuesday, July 24
Eastlake (Section 7) 7, Vineyard (Section 8) 0
El Segundo (Section 4) 6, Pasadena (Section 2) 5
Santa Maria Northside (Section 1) 4, North Park (Section 6) 3
Golden Hill (Section 5) 8, Huntington Valley (Section 10) 2

Wednesday, July 25
Huntington Valley (Section 10) 5, Eastlake (Section 7) 4
El Segundo (Section 4) 6, North Park (Section 6) 3

Thursday, July 26
Huntington Valley (Section 10) 6, El Segundo (Section 4) 4 (challenger bracket)
Golden Hill (Section 5) 3, Santa Maria Northside (Section 1) 2 (winners bracket final)

Friday, July 27
Huntington Valley (Section 10) 9, Santa Maria Northside (Section 1) 4 (challenger bracket final)

Sunday, July 28
Championship game: Golden Hill (Section 5) vs. Huntington Valley (Section 10), 2 p.m.

Sweetwater Valley’s Daniel Sanchez gets ready to crush a pitch to the plate. Photo by Tetateh Snoh

11U All-Star Division
(Temple City American Little League)

Saturday, July 21
Encino (District 40) 2, Aliso Viejo (District 55) 0
La Verne (District 20) 12, Orangecoast (District 24) 5
Manhattan Beach (District 36) 5, Southridge (District 71) 0
Sweetwater Valley (District 42) 5, Tustin Western (District 30) 1

Sunday, July 22
Encino (District 40) 15, Moorpark (District 13) 11
Sweetwater Valley (District 42) 2, Allied Gardens (District 33) 0

Monday, July 23
Aliso Viejo (District 55) 2, Southridge (District 71) 1
Tustin Western (District 30) 10, Orangecrest (District 24) 0

Tuesday, July 24
Encino (District 40) 4, La Verne (District 20) 1
Sweetwater Valley (District 42) 2, Manhattan Beach (District 36) 0

Wednesday, July 25
Aliso Viejo (District 55) 2, Allied Gardens (District 33) 0
Tustin Western (District 30) 8, Moorpark (District 13) 0

Thursday, July 26
Aliso Viejo (District 55) 9, La Verne (District 20) 1 (challenger bracket)
Manhattan Beach (District 36) defeated Tustin Western (District 30), score unavailable (challenger bracket)

Friday, July 27
Sweetwater Valley (District 42) 2, Encino (District 40) 0 (winners bracket)
Aliso Viejo (District 55) defeated Manhattan Beach (District 36), score unavailable (challenger bracket)

Saturday, July 28
Challenger bracket final: Aliso Viejo (District 55) 8, Encino (District 40) 2

Sunday, July 29
Championship game: Sweetwater Valley (District 42) vs. Aliso Viejo (District 55), 4 p.m. (if needed, double-elimination final on Monday, 7 p.m.)


12U All-Star Division
(Woodfield Park, Aliso Viejo Little League)

Saturday, July 21
Temple City National (Section 3) 8, Magnolia Center (Section 9) 5
Vineyard (Section 8) 3, Golden Hill (Section 5) 2
Conejo Valley (Section 1) 4, Quartz Hill (Section 2) 2
Park View (Section 7) 3, San Carlos (Section 6) 1

Sunday, July 22
Huntington Valley (Section 10) 14, Vineyard (Section 8) 4
El Segundo (Section 4) 13, Conejo Valley (Section 5)
Quartz Hill (Section 2) 10, Magnolia Center (Section 9) 8
Golden Hill (Section 5) 6, San Carlos (Section 6) 5

Monday, July 23
Quartz Hill (Section 2) 8, Vineyard (Section 8) 4
Golden Hill (Section 5) 12, Conejo Valley (Section 1) 0

Tuesday, July 24
Temple City National (Section 3) 4, Huntington Valley (Section 10) 1
Park View (Section 7) 6, El Segundo (Section 4) 0

Wednesday, July 25
El Segundo (Section 4) 2, Quartz Hill (Section 2) 1
Huntington Valley (Section 10) 10, Golden Hill (Section 5), 7 innings

Thursday, July 26
Park View (Section 7) 5, Temple City National (Section 3) 2 (winners bracket)
Huntington Valley (Section 10) 13, El Segundo (Section 4) 0 (elimination bracket)

Friday, July 27
Challenger bracket final: Huntington Valley (Section 10) 5, Temple City National (Section 3) 3 (9 innings)

Saturday, July 28
Championship game: Park View (Section 7) vs. Huntington Valley (Section 10) 2, 1 p.m. (if needed, double-elimination final on Sunday, 1 p.m.)



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here