The inaugural South Bay Summer League Baseball All-Star game started with a bang. The fireworks came in the first inning off the bat of 's Dylan Hatch.
"Did you see that?" said Mira Costa coach Cassidy Olson, grinning and shaking his head.
In a contest between several standout players from the South Bay, the all-star game ended in a 4-4 tie in nine innings Wednesday night at Marine Park in Manhattan Beach.
Olson and San Pedro coach Bob Ramirez guided "Team A," while Grady Sain of South Torrance and Brian Felten of Loyola were skippers for "Team B."
The game earned high marks from coaches and players. It also allowed the players to showcase their talents since some coaches believe the South Bay is sometimes overlooked. With the SBSBL forming and playing its first season, they believe that will change.
The all-star game drew scouts from UCLA, Loyola Marymount and Cal State Northridge. It also generated a crowd of about 100 fans. Though that might not seem like much to some, it's plenty for a summer league game, regardless of the sport.
"I was super impressed with the turnout," said Alex Morales, the league's coordinator and an assistant baseball coach at Palos Verdes.
"I never expected that many people. That was awesome and really good to see."
"There are a lot of good players in the South Bay and it was great to see plenty of people out here to see them play," Olson said. "There were some big defensive plays in the game, but Dylan's home run was the highlight."
The towering three-run shot Hatch clubbed over the right-field fence with one out in the first created a buzz when it left his bat. Hatch, who will be senior this fall at Redondo, jumped on the second pitch from Narbonne's Hector Avila. It followed a single by West Torrance's Angel Mora and a walk to Mira Costa's Anthony Lombardo for a 3-0 lead for Team A.
"The first pitch he tried to brush me off the plate a little bit, but then the second pitch he threw me was high and inside," said Hatch, who also singled. "It was a good feeling."
The good vibe lasted two innings before Team B rallied to tie the score in the third. South Torrance's Joey Rotuna scored on an error for the first run before an RBI single by Palos Verdes' Patrick Moody and sacrifice fly by Peninsula's Ben Laetsch knotted the score at three.
Team B took a 4-3 lead in the fifth, but Team A tied it with a run in the sixth. Neither team scored again as pitching dictated the rest of the way.
"These are the best players in the South Bay, so it's fun and good competition," said Hatch, who tossed two scoreless innings in relief. "I play with five or six of these guys in travel ball, so we all know each other pretty well, too. But it's still great to compete against each other. It just makes all of us better."
Team A: Anthony Lombardo, Jared Terry, Trent Hammond and Ryan Franklin (Mira Costa); Austin Gadaire, Pedro Valdez and Ben Mendez (Gardena); Blake Mendoza, Renae Martinez, Armando Hernandez and Jesse Bettencourt (San Pedro); Wesley Chipeco, Javier Galvan and Angel Mora (West Torrance); Jake Jimenez, Matt Esparza and Dylan Hatch (Redondo); Jack Canady, Matt Jarvis and Andrew Mungarro (North Torrance); Mark McEntee, Bobby Dean and Cam Smith (El Segundo); George Aceves, Brian Ibarra and Pablo Saucedo (Culver City).
Team B: Anthony Konders, Jake Renze, Walter Sketch and Kyle Ulanday (Torrance); Hector Avila and Daniel Ibarra (Narbonne); Christian Gurrola, Ritchie Herrada, Joey Rotuna, Gunner Johnson, Mike Esparza and Matt Bunch (South Torrance); Drew Kozain (Redondo); Jeremy Barth, Anthony Collins, Patrick Moody and Cameron MacLean (Palos Verdes); Ben Laetsch, Michael Green and Ed Haus (Peninsula); Erik Magdaleno, Christopher Johnson and Gino Brockway (Banning); Angelo Armenta, Joe Viole and Quinn Bodey (Loyola).
Sea Kings Play Well, Contribute
Palos Verdes, which is second to Mira Costa with a 7-3 mark in the West Division standings of the SBSBL, made its presence felt in the all-star game.
The four players who made the squad were Jeremy Barth, Anthony Collins, Patrick Moody and Cameron MacLean. Moody drove in a run to help Team B rally from a three-run deficit. But it was Collins who earned much attention from Morales.
"That first at-bat he had (in the all-star game) when he put down the push bunt, he got down the line in 3.6 (seconds) to first," Morales said. "That's the fastest I've seen a kid get down the line. Then, he steals second. For a kid who's just learning baseball, it's fun to watch him develop. MacLean had a good game. Moody had a great at-bat and then drove in a run. It's all good. I'm proud of all four of them.
"Plus, the experience of being around other guys and facing this kind of competition is good for them."
Costa Class of League So Far
Mira Costa remains the only unbeaten club in the 16-team team. Costa's win over San Pedro Monday extended its winning streak to 10 in a row.
Olson wasn't getting overly excited about it, particularly since its summer league play. If it was the CIF playoffs, that would be another story, he quipped.
Still, the winning has a good effect on his players.
"It's summer and everyone is missing some players, so I'm not going to put a lot of stock that we're so great or anything like that," the coach said. "But our guys are finding ways to win games. Guys are coming through and learning how to win. I don't take a whole lot of stock in records or that we're better than anyone, but being able to come through in pressure situations is very important. When they're in that situation later on, they'll know what it feels like."
Jared Terry, Anthony Lombardo, Trent Hammond, Chris Alcala and Ryan Franklin have figured prominently in Costa's run. Terry threw a five-inning no-hitter in a 13-0 victory over West last month. He also combined with Chris Alcala on a two-hitter and a 2-1 decision over Banning last week.
Entering the week, Terry, who started Wednesday's all-star game and pitched two scoreless innings, was 2-0 overall with 22 strikeouts and five walks in 18 innings pitched. He had an ERA of 1.17.