The Pajaro Valley 50/70 baseball team beat the SLV White Sox, 1-0, to capture this year's championship at Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz on May 21. (contributed)

For years, the Little League Intermediate 50/70 Baseball Division has served as the bridge between the Majors and high school baseball in Santa Cruz County. 

It gives kids the chance to develop even further before stepping onto the bigger field.

In 2024, there was a new team in town with the introduction of Pajaro Valley Little League into the division.

They capped off a remarkable inaugural season with a 1-0 win against the San Lorenzo Valley White Sox in the championship game at Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz on May 21.

Starting pitcher Joziah Abrego allowed four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings, and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning to help PV complete an undefeated season at 18-0. 

“In my experience playing as a kid growing up and watching other kids, I’ve just never watched a team dominate like this,” PV team manager Greg Bobeda said. “It’s been a really great group of boys, they’ve molded together really quick.”

In their first playoff game against No. 2 seeded Santa Cruz, top seeded PV scraped away with a 5-4 win.

Of the 12 players on the team—all 13 years old—seven of them played together last season on the all-star team.

Throughout the entirety of this season, PV has shown a sense of unity in how they play on both sides of the field. 

While each player already was well-versed in the game, the inaugural season for PV has ingrained in them a sense of team bonding and preparedness for the next level.

“This team is so into playing for each other, there are no egos out there and there are a lot of kids who play multiple positions,” Pajaro Valley Little League President Shannon Candelario said. “We did this because we had 13 year olds that didn’t feel comfortable moving to the big field that PONY [baseball] offers. This gives them a bit of a stepping stone.”

The age limit for Little League is 12 years old. But the expanded division of 50-70—which stands for 50-foot pitching distance and 70-foot base paths—allows children up to 15 years old to continue playing.

PV is set to return several of the same players next season at the Junior League Baseball Division for ages 12-14, and uses a conventional 90-foot diamond with a pitching distance of 60 feet, 6 inches. 

“After age 12, we saw a significant drop off in kids playing because they weren’t comfortable moving to the high school regulation field,” Candelario said. “Then when they get to high school, they haven’t played.”

The leadership of Jordan Ortega has been a major reason for the team’s undefeated season.

“[Ortega] is a leader and captain of the team,” Bobeda said. “He’s our starting catcher and is there for the team when they’re down to lift them up.”

Ortega has eight of the team’s 19 home runs, while fellow teammate Israel Hernandez isn’t far behind with six homers this season. JC Magaña is batting a . 635 (33-for-52) average with six walks and two home runs.

As a team, they’ve accumulated a total of 191 runs scored and 157 bases stolen. 

One unexpected bright spot this year has been Isidro Landa. 

Bobeda said Landa has “probably progressed the most in the last year. He’s been lights out at third base and he’s been on fire the second half of the season at the plate.”

Bobeda sees the potential for many of his star players to thrive playing high school baseball, and most likely to play for Aptos or St. Francis in Watsonville.

PV has played a majority of their games at Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz. But they’ve also been able to practice and play at Pinto Lake City Park in Watsonville, which used to be home to the Watsonville American Little League.

After being shut down for the past three years, the action returned to the park with kids working on hitting and throwing drills. It’s currently just a baseball field but Bobeda anticipates a press box and snack shack to be built for 2025.  

Once upon a time, the 36-year old Watsonville native grew up playing at the same park as a member of the Tigers.

“It’s just a really good vibe out there. You got the lake right there, you got benches all over, people are just out there barbecuing that end up watching the games,” Bobeda said. “It brought back a lot of memories.”

Next up, the PV All-Stars team will play SLV All-Stars on June 17. 

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  1. Nice story but you didn’t name all of the players and coaches who also contributed to this achievement.

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