Valley News -

By JP Raineri
Sports Editor 

Cooperstown visits bring success to local youth baseball teams


Last updated 8/16/2018 at 3:36am


The West Coast Clippers 12U team from Temecula were voted most spirited during their visit to Cooperstown.

One of the best tournaments for 12-year-old baseball players is Cooperstown Dreams Park in Cooperstown, New York. It provides the opportunity for players age 12 and under to spend a week playing against other teams from all over the United States. Over the summer a handful of local teams took on the prestigious tournament and three teams that contacted the Valley News all found success in one form or another.

For Cal Select, the West Coast Clippers and the SoCal Aces, the expedition began with a lot of fundraising through the year where the result wasn't just about winning a national championship, but more about creating an experience filled with exciting memories that will last a lifetime.

"Players, parents, family members, friends and coaches that take on this trip don't just go for the baseball, they go for the fun and everything the journey entails," says West Coast Clippers player development coach, Mike Stone.

Stone, who has been a solid baseball coaching fixture in the valley since his own son played through the youth and high school ranks, has made the trip quite a few times and had much success.

Multiple weekly tournaments begin in June and continue through August where teams participate in each one to compete for a weekly national title. There are 11 weeks of regular tournaments and coaches can choose a week that works best for their team's schedule. The Cal Select and West Coast Clippers 12U teams that made the trek went with the regular tournament schedule. Week 12 is the NATC tournament, a players' showcase tourney, and week 13 is the culmination of the competitions with the Cooperstown Classic, which is what the 12U SoCal Aces did.

Cooperstown Dreams Park provides each player with a home and away jersey (red for home and navy blue for away), hat, red and navy socks, long and short sleeved mock t-shirts, and a windbreaker jacket. Each player stays with their teammates and coaches in dorm rooms and are also provided a free ticket to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and a DVD of their team's webcasted game (weather permitting). All players and coaches also receive an American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame tournament ring and each are inducted into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame.

The festivities usually start on a Saturday as teams assemble for the opening ceremony and the procession of athletes. The skills competition begins immediately afterward and includes King of Swat, Road Runner, Golden Arm and Around the Horn. All the events happen at the same time and has a representative from each team. The top qualifiers face each other in Little Majors Stadium and a trophy is given to the winner of each event.

Games begin the following day, where each team could play up to 10 games over a four to five day period and just before the championship game, the two final teams are introduced, the Star-Spangled Banner is sung, and then there is a fireworks display.

The SoCal Aces were the most successful of the three teams as they had a "once in a lifetime" experience at Cooperstown Baseball World this summer, winning the 12u Championship. The team went 8-1, racking up 74 total runs against their opponents while only giving up 20 runs. Seeded No. 2 in pool play with a 4-1 record behind some outstanding pitching, they went on to beat Upper Canada Rebellion (CAN), D-Bat Elite (CA), and SSK1 Futures (TX) to land in the championship game versus the Nor'Easters (MA).

The Nor'Easters defense was solid, but the SoCal Aces managed to score in the second and third innings. At the bottom of the sixth, the SoCal Aces were in the lead 2-1 but the Nor'Easters threatened with a runner in scoring position, and two outs. The game ended with a flyball out to right field and the SoCal Aces won the game. Aiden Lubin had a spectacular outing, having pitched the full game. On the road to their championship, the SoCal Aces battled teams from California, Canada, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas, and Utah.

Rosters for the SoCal Aces included coaches Cesar Morales, Art Trujillo, Aaron Harrison (Manager) and Brent Colwell. SoCal Aces players included Lubin, Isaac Trujillo, Jaxon Scane, Jake Pickering, Ayden Harrison, Connor Christie, Jaylen Adams, Ryder Costa, Isaiah Alcala, Samuel Perales and Ian Morales.

Cal Select, who played at All-Star Village the week of the 4th of July, finished 6-0 in pool play and pulled the No. 2 seed out of 54 teams. They outscored their opponents 50-12 with a team batting average of .429 behind power hitters Grant Yzermans (4 homeruns), Roman Myers (3 homeruns), Mason Burkhardt (2 homeruns) and Erik Jeong, who also hit one out. As for the pitching, Mikey Ong, Yzermans, Chucky Barrientos, Jeong, Nate Seward and CJ Moran paved the way on the bump, not just through pool play, but deep into the playoffs.

Highlights for Cal Select include Barrientos, Yzerman and Jeong on Day One as they set the tone on the mound, backed by stellar team defense, Moran's complete game shutout in the early game on Day Two and Ong and Barrientos again, who combined for a complete game shutout later that same day. Day Three was highlighted by the team's scrappy play with a walk off by CJ Moran to complete the 6-0 record going into the elimination round.

"The boys had fun and played as a team the entire time," says coach Tim Moran. "Our defense was clutch and got us good positioning going into the final games."

Cal Select was one of the last four teams standing on championship day after a great showing, but fell to another local team from the area, the SoCal Swat, 1-0. Other contributing players that helped the team along the way include Alex Ramos, JD Quiroga and Jacob McColley.


Cal Select 12U player CJ Moran (15) threw a complete game shutout during tournament play in Cooperstown, New York.

The West Coast Clippers also saw success under the reigns of coaches Jake Huskey and Dennis Morton (Temecula Valley) as they played teams from Illinois, Michigan, California, Texas, Florida, and Ohio. The Clippers played eight games over five days garnishing a 4-4 record taking 17th place overall with a first-place victory as most spirited team. Rosters for the 12U West Coast Clippers include: Keagan Kelley, Branson Terry, Ian Smith, Gavin Malcomson, DJ Kerr, Bennett Murray, Stone Tucker, Zidane Choudry, Conner Sybrandy, Garrett Dettman, Kyle Vande Brake and Cole Jones. Sponsors for the team and proud supporters were LGM Construction Company, Valley Kia of Fontana, Prestige Auto, Paradise, All American Trailers, INC., Riverside Sheriff's Association, MURRCO Construction, Hixson Backhoe and Smart and Final.

Though baseball was the name of the game, the trip for these teams brought memories that will indeed last a lifetime. Niagara Falls, New York, delicacies, trips to the Hall of Fame and more, Cooperstown is truly a "Believe it or Not" type of destination. Brimming with culture, history, sports legacy, outdoor recreation and more, Cooperstown beckons first time and repeat visitors alike to discover – or rediscover – all the activities that await.


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