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PONY baseball: W.S. Hart picks up pair of titles

Two teams claim notable victories at various tournaments

Posted: July 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.

The William S. Hart PINTO all-star team, bottom row from left, Luke Pfieffer, Cameron Warr, Ryan Benz, Michael Nunez. Second row from left, Colton Fitzgerald, Ben Valdez, Jeff Pierantoni, Jared Mumper, Warner Rhodes, Nathan Trejo, Mitchel Torres. Third row from left: Assistant coach Rich Mumper, assistant coach Victory Nunez, head coach Henry Tr...

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William S. Hart baseball teams are raking in the championships these days.

In a one-week span, Hart saw its PONY-13 all-stars and PINTO all-stars both win officially-sanctioned tournaments.

First, the PONY team won the Southern California North Zone championship on July 11, only to bow out a week later in the super regional just short of the World Series.

On Sunday, PINTO followed with a West Zone World Series title, the highest possible achievement at that level.

“Youth sports are real competitive out here,” said Hugo Lopez, head coach of the PONY team. “You’ve got travel soccer and travel basketball, and now you’ve travel baseball and travel baseball has gotten huge in the last four or five years.”

And now William S. Hart is reaping the benefits of the increased prominence of the sport in the Santa Clarita Valley.

In fact, were it not for an unexpected call in the super regional tournament, Hart may have had a team in the 2011 PONY World Series in Fullerton next month.

In the fifth round of the PONY super regional in Whittier, Hart was locked in a 2-2 tie in extra innings with a Riverside team. In the bottom of the ninth, Riverside had runners on second and third with one out when Hart elected to intentionally walk the batter and load the bases.

Before Hart pitcher Anthony Lepre could finish throwing the obligatory four balls to catcher Holden Mehr, a balk was called. By rule, the runner at third base advanced home to score the winning run.

“I tried calling (the umpire) back to explain the call to me and he just kept walking off and went back to the parking lot,” Lopez said.

Other than a few exceptions, PONY League rules are in direct conjunction with MLB official rules, which state that a balk occurs when “the pitcher, while giving an intentional base on balls, pitches when the catcher is not in the catcher’s box.”

While it is an official rule, Lopez said he had never seen it called before, nor did he expect it on such a big stage.

“You’ve got 13-year-old kids that are just playing their hearts out, not just for our team, but for both teams,” Lopez said. “We happened to be the team that it was detrimental to.”

The resulting 3-2 loss ended Hart’s season just a few wins shy of claiming a Southern California title.

Hart’s North Zone title came against teams from Bakersfield, the Antelope Valley, Santa Barbara and around the San Fernando Valley. Hart had to win three straight games, including a doubleheader against Quartz Hill on the final day to win the double elimination tournament.

Though a regional championship was as far as the PONY team advanced, Hart’s 8-year-old counterparts, however, went the distance and claimed victory in the PINTO West Zone World Series in San Jose.

A 10-0 victory over Blossom Valley put Hart alone at the top of a tournament that included teams throughout California in Arizona.

The PINTO division doesn’t hold a national World Series event.

“I didn’t sit a kid out the whole game (at any point this season),” said Henry Trejo, head coach of Hart’s PINTO team. “I played everyone as much as I could. It was a phenomenal time and I can honestly say this has been my greatest experience coaching, and I’ve been coaching for a long time.”

Hart had to make it through the regional and super regional tournament before qualifying for the big one in San Jose. In a two month span, Hart went a combined 13-1 in the three tournaments.

One of those wins took 12 innings and three hours in what Trejo called “probably the best game I’ve seen at any level” in the super regional final against Moreno Valley.

In the bottom of the 12th, Moreno Valley had runners on second and third with two out, trailing by a run.

One of Hart’s alternate left fielders, Nathan Trejo, had to make a diving catch on a sharply hit ball toend the threat and secure his team’s 3-2 victory. He was promptly dogpiled by teammates and fans.

“It’s something I’ll never forget,” said Henry Trejo, the proud father and coach, who was also quick to give credit to players like Jared Mumper, Cameron Warr and Mike Nunez.

Every player on the roster contributed in one form or another, the coach said.

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