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The Mustang marvels

Youth baseball: The William S. Hart Mustang team is back from its World Series victory

Posted: August 13, 2010 10:19 p.m.
Updated: August 14, 2010 4:55 a.m.

The William S. Hart PONY League Mustang All-Stars show the medals they have been awarded over the course of the season. They won the Mustang World Series on Aug. 7 and will next play in the 2010 National Youth Baseball Championships.

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The medal count is six — each one bigger than the next. No one bigger than the one they were awarded after left fielder J.T. Shrout closed his glove on the last out on Aug. 7 at the Mustang World Series in Irving, Tex.

The first thought by everyone — players in the field and in the dugout — when the ball was in the air was:

“Dogpiling on the pitcher, “ says 11-year-old Erik Distad, who was watching from the dugout.

Not for Shrout.

“Don’t drop the ball,” the 10-year-old says. “There was a lot of pressure on it.”

The William S. Hart PONY League Mustang All-Stars were back in Santa Clarita on Sunday, still on a high from winning the World Series.

And four days later, what were they doing?

Practicing.

Hart Mustang will play in the 2010 National Youth Baseball Championships, which will take place Aug. 26-29 in Memphis, Tenn and air on the Major League Baseball Network. Eight youth baseball organizations will compete in the event, put on by Major League Baseball, to determine a true national champion.

Though that tournament may be bigger, in terms of exposure, the World Series victory was an international one in that teams for Puerto Rico and Mexico competed.

It’s a wonder that this Hart Mustang team could pull it off.

Head coach Jerry Miller says he knew his team would be good, but he didn’t know if it could pull off what the 2007 Hart Mustang team did by winning the World Series.

“The first team meeting I was telling the parents, going forward the final destination is to get to the World Series. Not to win it, but get there,” Miller says. “I evaluated the first couple of weeks, we played in some local tournaments to see what positions we were going to put the kids. I’ll be honest, the first three tournaments, the pitching didn’t feel like it would take us there.”

The hitting wouldn’t either.

Miller says this team had little power. They would have to rely on small ball, fundamentals and defense.

The first game, a 20-1 victory over an Irvine Mustang team set them on their path.

On June 27, they lost to West Hills 4-3. Three weeks later they would avenge the loss.

Pitching became a power.

The team melded.

It won district, sectional, regional, super regional and finally zone tournaments on the way to last week’s World Series.

Miller says the work his kids put in and the sacrifices they made aren’t the norm for 10-year-olds.

“We probably treated them older than they act,” he says. “They finally reached their goal. They can’t put it into words just how excited they are. You see it in their faces.”

Yet Hart Mustang opened up the World Series with a 5-4 loss to Joliet, Ill.

They bounced back, though, to win their pool, setting up the championship round.

In the semifinals, Tim Josten tossed a complete game and Noah Cardenas had three RBIs in a 6-4 win over Chesterfield, Va.

Hart Mustang defeated Puerto Rico 10-6 in the championship game.

During the World Series, Cole Roederer led the team with a .692 batting average.

The team as a whole batted .347, which Miller says is low for a Mustang team.

Shrout was named the series’ most outstanding pitcher.

Just comparing the 2007 Hart Mustang championship team to the 2010 team, 2007 hit 19 home runs in the series. The 2010 team hit zero.

“It goes back to our defense and pitching carrying us through,” Miller says.

It also goes back to a bunch of 10- and 11-year-olds getting along.

Some of the kids have nicknames — like “Dom Bomb,” “Big Papi,” “Boogie” and “Ryno” — Dominic Eberle, Brady Anderson, Caden Miller and Ryan Carolan, respectively.

Some kids are always smiling and are good teammates — like Cardenas, Distad, Cody Jefferis, Brendan Henry, Al Aguero and Wyatt Egan.

Then there are the pure left-handers — Josten and Roederer.

There are two team clowns — Nick Rogers and Nico Valdez.

That’s Shrout’s assessment.

He has one more about the upcoming tournament in Tennessee.

“We’re just going to go out there and have fun,” he says.

Nothing would be more fun than a seventh medal.

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