The La Cañada All-Star baseball team comprising 12-year-old boys concluded its outstanding postseason run by finishing fourth in the Pony League World Series this past week in Laredo, Texas.
La Cañada, competing in the six-team Bronco tournament, won two of five games against stiff competition.
“This summer has been one I know these boys will remember — a trip to play in Cooperstown, New York, followed by a trip to the World Series in Texas. Pretty special for these kids,” said La Cañada manager Matt Regan.
La Cañada, which won the West Zone tournament championship a week earlier, opened the World Series last Friday by throttling Fort Worth, Texas, 23-0. Taylor Parrille, Scotty Burns and Ross Piken led the offensive onslaught, each with multiple hits. Meanwhile, L.C. pitchers Caiden Kennedy, Joe Bell, Trevor Rivas and Milo Lin combined to throw a two-hit shutout as La Cañada notched its 13th consecutive victory.
“Our hot bats picked up right where they left off in the Western Zone tournament,” Regan said.
La Cañada’s next game turned out to be the first of two against Laredo, the eventual World Series champion. In the first game against Laredo on Saturday, L.C. broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the third inning when Kennedy singled. A Bell line drive to center field gave L.C. a two-run lead, then Parrille delivered an RBI for a three-run lead.
L.C. extended its lead to 5-1 in the fifth inning on Ethan Wong’s RBI single.
Lin, La Cañada’s pitcher, entered the game in the second inning and held Laredo scoreless during his 4 1/3 innings of work.
“Milo’s performance for us was just brilliant — to hold the bats of Laredo scoreless as he did in the middle of the game gave us a chance,” Regan said.
However, Laredo rallied to score four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, then scored again in the 10th inning to defeat La Canada in an epic battle, 6-5.
“Lead-off Rivas and two-hole hitter Kennedy put pressure on opposing defenses, game after game,” Regan said. “Rivas, with his speed, and Kennedy, with hard-hit ball after hard-hit ball, always seem to come up huge when we need them most. This tournament was no different. The top of our lineup set the table for the middle of our order — our big boppers Bell, Wong, Parrille, Cole Richards and Fritz Phillips.”
Only 30 minutes after its heartbreaking loss to Laredo in 10 innings, L.C. then had to play an elimination game against South Zone champion Deer Park, Texas, late Saturday night.
“Not only did we have to play, but we had to do so without the services of our injured starting third baseman Taylor Parrille [ankle], and our starting catcher Ethan Wong [knee], who each went down in the Laredo game,” Regan said. “We learned a lot about our boys that night; I will never forget the way this team responded to the heartbreaking 6-5 loss against Laredo. This is what a team does; this is what it means to be a team. I’m so proud of how each of them bounced back.”
Bell, L.C.’s starting pitcher, got the ball at 9 p.m. local time against Deer Park.
“Joe is a gritty, gutty kid on the field,” Regan said. “He was not going to let us lose that night; he willed us to victory against Deer Park, and Scotty played great in a fill-in role for Ethan behind the plate.”
After spotting Deer Park a 2-0 lead, L.C. tied it in the bottom of the first inning with RBI singles by Bell and Burns. La Cañada took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Chase Regan scored after hitting a single to left field, which was followed by two Deer Park errors to extend L.C.’s advantage to 5-2 after two innings.
La Cañada took an 8-4 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning as Lin relieved Bell with some masterful pitching. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Phillips doubled to deep right field to blow the game wide open, giving L.C. a commanding 11-4 lead en route to a 14-4, six-inning “mercy rule” victory.
The win lifted La Cañada to a semifinal rematch against Laredo, with the winner advancing to the World Series championship game. Nicholas Pieper started on the mound for L.C., and Laredo took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
La Cañada quickly battled back to tie the score, 2-2, when Pieper’s single drove home L.C.’s first two runs of the game. Kennedy followed with an RBI single for a 3-2 lead.
However, Laredo scored two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to gain a 6-3 lead, and added seven more runs in the final two innings for a 13-3 win.
“Laredo’s pitching was dominant and held our bats in check after we scored three runs in that second inning,” Regan said. “Sure, we went to the World Series with the goal of winning it, but give the team from Laredo credit — a solid team who played well. We just ran out of gas.
“But, wow, what an experience,” Regan added. “I could not be more proud of these boys. I know La Cañada is proud of them, too, as I cannot tell you how many well-wishers sent us notes of encouragement. Thank you, La Cañada. The boys could feel the support miles away.”
After beating La Cañada in the semifinal round, Laredo captured the World Series title by defeating East Zone champion Ohio, 8-3. Meanwhile, La Cañada finished fourth in the tournament after losing to Eagle Pass, 10-7, in the third-place game on Sunday evening.
The LCBSA contributed to this article.