The DubTown Palomino baseball team of Watsonville won the NorCal Super Regional championship and qualified for the West Zone tournament this year. (contributed)

The DubTown 18-U Palomino baseball team was faced with a pair of difficult tasks during their recent trip to the 2023 PONY West Zone tournament.

Manager Andy Garcia said they were more than ready to take on anything thrown their way but in the end it was just too challenging from the get-go.

Especially when every day was more than 100 degrees, which was difficult for a team accustomed to cooler weather in Santa Cruz County.

“We’re not used to that at all,” he said. “I think the weather did really affect us.”

DubTown was eliminated from the tourney following an 8-5 loss to High Desert Stallions at Fiscalini Field in San Bernardino on July 22. 

Garcia said seven teams were from Southern California and the majority of them were loaded with 17- and 18-year-old players. 

Meanwhile, DubTown carries a majority of 16 year olds, which is fine and dandy with Garcia since he likes putting the players up to the challenge by competing against the best. 

“It was kind of intimidating but we hung in there,” he said.

Dubtown was sent to the elimination bracket following a 6-4 loss to Covina Blue in the opening round on July 20, but then bounced back with an 8-1 win over Fontana Aztecs the following day.

James Craig finished batting a .667 percentage with five RBIs, three singles, two doubles and a three-run home run. He also recorded one win as a pitcher for Dubtown. 

“He was definitely the team leader,” Garcia said.

Fellow teammate Brody Legions finished with a pair of RBIs, one single, two doubles and one home run, while Sam Chitwood had four doubles and one RBI. 

Samuel Garcia had four hits and a pair of RBIs for DubTown, which won its third straight NorCal Super Regional Palomino Tournament title in Modesto.

DubTown won the championship series in sweeping fashion against the Bel Passi 18-U team from Modesto on July 8. 

Jason Yager recorded a no-hitter for an 11-0 in Game 1, which included a three-run home run by Silva and a successful squeeze play by Leon. Samuel Garcia finished with a pair of hits, while fellow teammates Edgar Ramirez, Jasiah McKenzie, Leo Manfredi and Adam Ayon each recorded one base hit.

McKenzie and Adrian Leon combined for an 8-5 win in Game 2, which was a much closer contest in a must-win situation for Bel Passi. 

Leon worked out of a bases loaded jam to end the game. Sam Chitwood, Sonny Cope, Chris Verdia, Josh Ybarra each recorded a base hit, and Mason McKinney had two RBIs for DubTown. 

The roster is made up of players mostly from Watsonville and Aptos high schools along with Leon of St. Francis High, Manfredi of Las Gatos High and Elias Segal of Palma High in Salinas.

Ayon, Garcia, Legions, Ramirez and Ybarra proudly represented the Wildcatz; while Cope, Craig, McKenzie, Yager, Mckinney, Verdia along with Harrison Bechtold, Andrew Silva and Tyler Silverman represented the Mariners.

Chitwood, a former standout at Aptos High, currently plays at Cal Lutheran College and was the lone player with collegiate level experience.  

“[Chitwood] was probably one of our best hitters down there, too,” Garcia said.

DubTown was missing Isaac Garcia, Andy’s son, who was unable to play in this year’s tournament after he was accepted to West Point Academy in New York.

Samuel Garcia paid tribute to his brother by wearing Isaac Garcia’s jersey No. 55, while their older brother and assistant coach Alexandre Garcia paid tribute by wearing No. 5, another jersey number Isaac used to sport.

Andy Garcia said DubTown, who was the runner up in last year’s West Zone tournament, looks forward to returning next year. Especially with basically the same group and more experience under their belts. 

“They’re more accustomed to having the confidence and they can make it down there next year,” he said. “We’ve definitely raised the bar of our expectations.”

Garcia believes they’ve made a name for themselves in both Santa Cruz County and in the state.

“Even down there in Southern California we were able to represent that Watsonville does have an up and coming program,” he said.

Capitola-Soquel ousted in NorCal tourney

The magical run for the Capitola-Soquel Majors All-Stars team came to an end following a 7-3 loss to McKinleyville in the Northern California State Tournament at Hoover Tyler Little League field in Stockton on July 26. 

Manager Tim Claydon said McKinleyville came out hot right off the bat, while Capitola-Soquel had a couple of defensive errors that led to more runs than needed to be.

“We just made too many defensive errors and didn’t get enough hits,” he said.

Despite the small mishaps, Claydon said their pitchers Brody Mowry and Ryan Huffaker did a great job on the mound, but their bats didn’t really come alive until late in the game.

Weston Ferren hit a 3-run home run in the bottom of the fourth that cut the deficit in half at 6-3, giving them back some life and slight momentum in the game. 

“I’m proud of what they accomplished,” Claydon said. “We weren’t expected to get far and we ended up making history for our league, so that was pretty awesome.” 

Capitola-Soquel finished the season as one of the top-four teams in Northern California on top of capturing titles for both District 39 and Section 5, which was their first Section 5 championship in the Little League’s 53-year history

Claydon said the coaching staff was honored and blessed to have coached a great group of players who played their hearts out. He also appreciated the love and support from the community.

“Our whole motto for our team all season has been we win with grace and we lose with dignity,” he said. “Everyone could walk away with their heads up high and have dignity and know that they accomplished something that no one in our league has ever accomplished.”

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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