San Juan Baseball Senior All-Stars Make History
When the San Juan Capistrano Little League Senior All-Stars defeated the All-Stars from North Anaheim in the Senior League sectional championship game on July 18, a massive dog pile took place on the mound. Not only was the team celebrating a gritty, 7-5 victory—they were making history. Up until that final out, no team in the history of San Juan Little League had won a sectional championship.
For most on the team, including pitcher/shortstop Mario Morales, 16, the win was the payoff for eight years of hard work. The San Juan team is a close-knit group that has been playing ball together since they were in elementary school.
“I’m glad I could share this experience with my friends,” Morales said. “I’ve been with most of them for eight years so it was great. The dog pile at the end of the sectional win was my favorite moment.”
This season was the last for many of the teams’ players, like catcher Steve Cervantes. Cervantes, 16, has been playing with this same group since he was 9-years old and attributed the teams’ success to its chemistry.
“(During the tournament) everyone was doing their job and that usually helps everyone in the end,” Cervantes said. “When one guy is doing well it spreads around, and everyone feeds off one another.”
In the sectional clinching game, pitcher Grant Littlejohn got the nod to start and kept North Anaheim at bay for most of the match, giving way to reliever Caleb Ward, who allowed zero runs while striking out three. Morales, Jackson Zoch, Jason Core, Cervantes and Gary Elkins all contributed to the win by providing key hits.
The sectional win earned the San Juan All-Stars a ticket to Yucaipa to play in the Southern Sub-Divisional State Championships July 21-23, where they were defeated in back-to-back games, ending their historic run. Throughout all of the qualifying stages, the team averaged seven runs on offense while giving up four runs or less on defense.
If the San Juan All-Stars could have pushed through their opponents in Yucaipa, they would have advanced to the regional tournament, which is the last step before reaching the Senior Little League World Series in Bangor, Maine.
A regional berth wasn’t in the cards this time around, but the 2012 San Juan Senior All-Stars can hold their heads high, knowing that they accomplished something that has never been done in San Juan before.
“I’m very proud of the kids for the time and effort they put into all the practice and the games and their ability to be ready to advance as far as they did,” Manager Mike Morales said.
The San Juan Little League Senior All-Stars also include Marcos Romero, Josh Robison, Ryan Lefner, Cole Steines, Nick Archambeault and Iain Jones.