By Fred J. Robledo
Down to its last out, Covina Pony rallied to deliver a championship of a lifetime.
After James Jimenez’s dominant pitching performance allowed Covina to take Seoul, Korea to extra innings in the Dick’s Sports Goods Pony League World Series championship in Washington, Ma., on Wednesday, James used his bat to finish the job.
James belted the go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the eighth, and Covina held on for a dramatic 3-1 victory to claim its first Pony League title since the Chuck Tiffany led team won the title in 1999. It also was the third Pony League World Series title in history for the 14-year-old all-stars from Hollenbeck Park.
“I can’t even describe that feeling as it went over the fence,” Jimenez told the Charlotte Observer-Reporter. “I was running like it was going to be an extra base hit, because that’s all I thought it really was. When I saw it go over the fence and hit the light pole, I didn’t really know what to do other than slow down and celebrate.”
For Jimenez to have a chance to be the hero, it needed magic in the seventh.
Covina, down to its last out, tied the score 1-1, when Hector Bautista’s two-out single drove in Josh Logan to send the game to extra innings.
“Jubilation. That’s the only way I can describe it,” Covina manager Richard Graciano said. “I kept telling my boys we are going to break through. It was all about being patient.”
Jimenez allowed one run over seven innings and became one of 24 pitchers in Pony League World Series history to win three games in a single tournament.
“I just kept going out there and throwing strikes,” Jimenez said. “My defense just was huge behind me.”
Korea took a 1-0 lead in the first after Kim Min-Hyuk doubled in Bae Hun-Jun, and it nearly held up behind pitcher Lee Yong-Jun, who allowed just three hits over five innings, striking out four.
Covina’s Jake Vargas and Anthony Rasmussen combined to close out the eighth, with Rasmussen getting the save.
The Covina Pony 14-year-old all-stars have advanced to the Pony League World Series in Washington, PA., with a 14-1 semifinal victory over Bay County Michigan on Tuesday, advancing to Wednesday’s championship where it will take on Seoul Korea, an 11-1 winner over Ohio.
Covina will take on Korea at 4:30 p.m., where it hopes to win its first championship for Hollenbeck Park since the Chuckie Tiffany led team beat Taiwan to win the title in 1999.
Covina took the lead on Bay County after Hector Bautista led off the game with a single and later scored. The Hollenbeck all-stars extended their lead to 4-0 in the third inning on a two-run double by Jake Vargas and RBI single for Parker Miramontez.
The onslaught continued in the fourth inning with Josh Logan starting it with a double. Logan scored when Luke Willison walked with the bases loaded, followed by a two-run single from Miramontez. Chris Munoz provided the big blow with a grand slam over center, and Willison put on the finishing touches with a two run single.
James Jiminez started and struck out three over three innings. Anthony Rasmussan relieved and struck out three over two innings.
“He had been slumping a little and he’s been hard on himself,” Covina manager Richard Graciano told the Charlotte Observer-Reporter about Munoz, who hit the grand slam. “But he didn’t get down and came out and hit a bomb.”
Covina, which only has played 17 innings in three games because of its dominance, is in good shape on the mound.
Covina also has outscored its opponents, 33-6.
“We will have all pitchers available,” Graciano said of the title game. “Seoul is a tremendous team. There is no flaw in that team that I can see. I think the keys will be our pitching and if we can get some key hitting.”
Info provided by Stephen Morales
Before Bishop Amat football takes on nationally-ranked Mater Dei, the top-ranked team in the country by several publications at home on Aug. 25, it will have a scrimmage at power Corona Centennial on Friday.
Centennial, Vista Murrieta, Rancho Cucamonga and Bishop Amat will all be there for the scrimmage, but Amat is expected to only go against Centennial and Vista Murrieta. Bishop Amat will play a regular season game against Rancho Cucamonga at home on Sept. 15. The scrimmage starts at 7 p.m.
Covina Pony won its second straight game in the Pony World Series, beating Bay County Michigan 9-5 in Washington, PA.
The 14-year-old Covina all-stars took a 4-0 lead with solo homers from Luke Willison and Jake Vargas, and led 4-2 after three innings.
Covina extended the lead in the fifth, getting a double from Parker Miramontez and singles from Vargas and James Jiminez to help pusher their lead to 8-2.
Back to back doubles from Josh Logan and Hector Bautista in the seventh added insurance and Covina finished with strong pitching.
Mike Gonzalez struck out four over 4 2/3 innings, and Vargas came in to finishing the job in relief.
Covina advances to the division final Tuesday at 5 p.m. against the winner of Bay County and Brownsville Texas.
— Provided by Stephen Morales
Covina’s 14-year-old Pony All-Stars opened the Pony World Series in Washington PA., with a 10-0, five-inning victory over host Washington PA.
James Jiminez drew the start and struck out seven over five innings of shutout ball.
The Hollenbeck all-stars were led on offense by Parker Miramontez who drove in three runs, and Robert Hernandez who reached three times and scored twice. Hector Bautista added a two run homer.
Covina will continue World Series play Monday at 5 p.m. against Bay County, Michigan.
— Provided by Stephen Morales