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Fountain Valley PONY stays upbeat after dropping regional opener to Irvine

At the end of action on Thursday evening, Jerry Quenzler took a stand for his kids.

The head coach of the Fountain Valley PONY 12-and-under All-Stars said that he would rather walk off the baseball diamond than hear his kids be criticized midgame.

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At its core, the message was uplifting. It has been a long season of tournaments, and as the stage gets bigger and the stakes higher, a baseball game is still a game.

“We’ve got to remember that this is just for fun, and it is what it is,” Quenzler said. “I don’t want to hear anything negative in the middle of a game.”

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Fountain Valley had just dropped its opener in a PONY Bronco Central Regional game, as host Irvine “A” walked away with a 10-6 victory at Hicks Canyon Park.

Quenzler had hoped to keep matters upbeat for his team heading into its next game. Fountain Valley certainly has cause to remain confident, as it has been in this position before.

In the sectional tournament in Dana Point, Fountain Valley suffered an early loss to West Garden Grove, but it won back-to-back games to advance to the regional tournament.

Fountain Valley awaits the loser of West Garden Grove and Olive “A.” The teams’ first game of the consolation bracket will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.

On Thursday, Fountain Valley fought valiantly despite seeing a revolving door play out on the mound. Pitch counts played a big role in the management of the game, as any pitcher who exceeded 35 pitches on Thursday would not be eligible to pitch on Saturday.

Brayden McGee put Fountain Valley on the board in the first inning with an opposite-field double to right field. Quinn Hartman came around to score on the play, as the ball one-hopped the fence.

“My brother and my dad, they taught me how to hit,” McGee said of his inside-out approach as a hitter. “When I get home, they instruct me on what I need to do, and they encourage me.”

Later in the inning, McGee scored on a wild pitch to send Jonathan Penor to the mound with a 2-0 lead.

Penor struck out the side in the first inning, but he also walked three. Cole Weinstein scored on a wild pitch to cut Irvine’s deficit in half.

Fabrizio Ratinoff made it 3-1 Fountain Valley in the top of the second, as he was able to beat out a ground ball to first base that allowed Jack Quenzler to score.

That would be the last of Fountain Valley’s leads. Evan Tamayo drove in two runs to tie the game with a single through the left side of the infield in the bottom of the second.

Ryan Sellards doubled and Weinstein singled as each recorded a run batted in the third. Irvine opened up an 8-3 lead heading to the fifth, and that is when Fountain Valley staged another rally.

Hartman scored a run on a wild pitch. After back-to-back singles by Dustin Stephens and Penor, Fountain Valley had the tying run at the plate with one out in the inning for Eric Angeles.

Angeles reached on an error, bringing in McGee. Then Noah Villa produced another run on an RBI-groundout.

Fountain Valley was unable to stop Irvine’s offense, however, as Camden Clewett’s run-scoring single helped Irvine pad its lead at 10-6.

The local All-Stars were unable to get anything going with the bats in the late innings, but Ratinoff, the shortstop, showed off his arm to retire the speedy Weinstein in the seventh.

“That was exciting because there’s two outs and the batter was really fast,” Ratinoff said. “I just wanted to get him out as soon as possible.”

Asked what his teammates think of such plays, Ratinoff laughed and said, “I think one time, I just got all three outs. They just get mad because I took all of the outs.”

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