BRAWLEY – November has been a memorable month for the Imperial Valley-based travel baseball team known simply as â€œTeam Californiaâ€ with the ten years and under squad turning in two championship performances in back to back weeks.
â€œIt was a great two weekends of baseball,â€ said Team California Head Coach Ralph Lopez of the impressive two-week showcase turned in by his squad. â€œIâ€™m so proud of all the players for giving 100% and nothing less.Â Â They made their coaches and parents proud.â€
Team California began their two-tournament run November 8Â at the November Mayhem Tournament held in Fontana, California.Â After winning their first round matchup 8-4 against Upperdeck Brigade, they fell in the second round to the Fontana area based Spartan squad.
Needing a win against SoCal Heat in the elimination bracket, Team California pulled through with a 14-1 victory lead by a dominating pitching performance from Eli Saiza who pitched the complete game and only allowed one run on the scoreboard.Â With the win, they were back in the championship bracket taking on the team that had forced them to near elimination, the Spartans.
This time however, the Team California bats were in full hit mode as they took the 15-4 victory in the championship game, while also avenging their earlier loss.
â€œThe boys played well,â€ said Lopez of the teamâ€™s November Mayhem performance. â€œThe defense was good; the offense was great.Â Our top pitcher for the tournament was Eli Saiza, and our top batter was Angel Barron. A sure hit each at bat.â€
The next tourney visited was The Baseball Legends Turkey Ball tournament held in Brawley November 15-16.Â Team California would weather through tough competition early, but managed to remain undefeated through the first four games. Their wins over the IV Tigers (12-4), the Titans (5-2), the Yuma Vipers (11-5), and the Mexicali All-Stars (15-5) sent them to the finals where they would meet fellow local powerhouse squad Strikeforce.
In a back and forth final, Team California was able to outlast Strikeforce and take the 16-15 victory in extra innings.
With their win in the finals, Team California capped off the two week, two championships run, and also earned the right to be known as the mythical â€œTeam of the Valleyâ€ under-10 baseball squad.
Leading the way for Team California were players Angel Baron, Leo Veliz, and team MVP Reynaldo â€œEl Toritoâ€ Montiel, who all batted an over .600 hitting average, with Montiel batting .667.
â€œOur bats were red hot both days,â€ said Coach Lopez. â€œEvery kid hit in every game.Â Our boys really enjoyed the hometown tournament put on by The Baseball Legends.â€
Up next for Team California will be a well-deserved break from competitions on the baseball field, but they will be in action hosting a community toy drive scheduled for December 16.Â Â Collected items will be donated to the Bread Industry Church in Brawley to be distributed to those less fortunate, and the Toy Drive itself is in honor of Brawley resident and businessman Joe Gammill who passed away two years ago.
â€œThe Community has helped us and now itâ€™s our turn to help,â€ stated Lopez.
If anyone is able and would like to help the less fortunate by donating an unwrapped toy please contact Ralph Lopez at (831) 809-2037.