The La Cañada Cougars 10-and-under baseball travel team took home the Silver Medal, finishing in second place at the prestigious 2008 California State Games, July 11-13, in San Diego. Pool play began Saturday morning with a close opening game that resulted in a 5-5 tie with the Cherokees. Impressive pitching by Michael Calmette kept the game close. The Cougars had a chance to win in the bottom of the sixth with players on second and third base and one out, but could not capitalize on the opportunity. The game was called due to time.
Cougar bats came to life against the Chula Vista Rhinos in Saturday's second game. Timely hits by the entire lineup, sparked by aggressive base running by Matthew Pasion, and the Cougars had a 5-0 lead in the second. Cougar pitching and defense limited the Rhinos' scoring attack. Charlie Bednar held the Rhinos to no runs in three efficient innings. The game was also highlighted by the play of catcher Dakota Cummins, along with third baseman A. J. Absy. Kenny Barrera closed the game with a perfect inning, striking out three batters.
The game was called after five, the Cougars winning, 19-1.
The Cougars carried the hot streak into Sunday's first game, battling to a come-from-behind win, 10-7, over the San Diego Toreros. John Kwasniewski's single into right field gave the Cougars the lead with two RBIs in the fifth inning while Ray Kim closed out the game.
The Gold Medal led to a rematch Sunday evening between the Cougars and the Cherokees.
Cherokee pitching was dominant and an eight-run third inning by the Cherokees led to the demise of the Cougars.
“It was the best experience, full of unforgettable moments with the kids and their families,” Cougars manager Steve Kim said of the weekend. “I am so proud of our boys for making it to the championship.”
The La Cañada Cougars have had a successful year, highlighted by their first place finish in the 2007 SoCal Super Series Surf City World Series, and second place finish in the CCYB Sunday League, in addition to their Silver Medal win in San Diego. The team aims to go for the Gold at the next California State Games and advance to the State Games of America, in Colorado in 2009.
— Submitted by Joyce Lovelace