As the youth baseball season pushes on, the games seem to get longer and longer.
The PONY Mustang 10-and-under division has reached regional play, and the competing teams all seem to be adept at putting runs on the board.
In the latest high-scoring contest, Fountain Valley PONY held on to defeat Seal Beach 16-11 on Friday evening at Hicks Canyon Park.
Fountain Valley received several standout performances at the plate, none bigger than a fifth-inning at-bat for Vincent Meza. He came up with the bases loaded, and he laced an opposite-field double into left field to clear the bases.
“I just felt really good,” Meza said. “[Brayden Jones] was pitching outside, so I needed to go [opposite field] with it. I was just hoping to get it down the line or get a base hit. I was just really happy about getting that big double.”
Meza said he is the son of Tia Meza, the athletic director at Mater Dei High who was a two-time All-American for softball at the University of Washington.
Fountain Valley took a 16-8 lead into the sixth inning. Meza finished the game with a game-high four runs batted in.
The insurance runs paid off, as Seal Beach pushed three runs across in its last at-bats before Manoah Leiato came in to record the final two outs.
Leiato marked the fifth pitcher used by Fountain Valley in its opening game of the regional tournament. Broderic Schatzman drew the start, with Meza, Justin Rackley and Andrew Castillo also working in relief.
“Every team can hit,” Fountain Valley coach Steve Rittenhouse said. “The hardest part is trying not to burn through your pitching because of the PONY rules that we have to follow.”
PONY Mustang rules limited pitchers to 20 pitches in a game if they were going to be available to pitch the next day. The win might mean even more to Fountain Valley since Schatzman threw 31 pitches to go 1 2/3 innings, the longest of any Fountain Valley pitcher.
Schatzman also paced his team with three hits.
Fountain Valley stayed in motion throughout the game, picking up a total of 15 stolen bases.
“It feels good, just stealing bases instead of just sitting on the base and waiting until a person hits it,” Schatzman said. “If you just stay on the base, you have no momentum of getting home quicker.”
Fountain Valley advances to the regional semifinals. The local All-Stars will take on host Irvine at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. The top two teams in the tournament will advance to the super regional.
Schatzman said that the coaching staff reminded the players to stay focused in the dugout during games, which he saw as an extension of the sports cliché, “You practice the way you play.”
If Fountain Valley continues to hit like it did on Friday, it should be in most games.
Nicholas Grissom had two hits and two RBIs. Conner Rittenhouse also drove in two runs, while Leiato and Schatzman each scored three times.