Team California Begins New Year with Baseball Tournament Win

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Team California won the USSSA New Year's Kick-off baseball tournament on Jan. 10 in Peoria, Arizona. Photo by: Gus Garcia
Team California won the USSSA New Year’s Kick-off baseball tournament on Jan. 10 in Peoria, AZ. Photo by: Gus Garcia

It’s been an exciting jump-off to 2016 for Imperial Valley-based baseball squad Team California, as they continued their travel ball success on the field as well as adding another success off the field, having two members sign to the Mexican professional baseball team, Toros de Tijuana.

Team California participated in the 2016 United States Specialty Sports Association New Year’s Kick-off tournament on Jan. 9 and 10 in Peoria, AZ. and they went 4-0 throughout the tournament en route to a first place finish.

“It was a great tournament for our team. They played as a team, made all the defensive plays, converted a couple double plays and pitchers did an amazing job on the mound,” said Team California Manager Ralph Lopez.

In the first game, Team California was pitted against the Arizona Desert Cats winning the contest 12-0 behind Reynaldo Montiel and Leonardo Lazcano, who both went 2-for-2 at the plate.

In their second game, Team California went up against the Desert Knights and once again won the contest in convincing fashion. Led by Beau Mayo going 2-for-2 and Jose Portillo going 2-for-3, Team California won by a score of 10-0.

With the two wins they secured the number one seed and earned a first round bye, placing themselves in the gold bracket.

In the semi-finals, Team California faced a surprise challenge going down 2-1 until Montiel hit a two-RBI double in the bottom of the fifth to put Team California up 3-2. Angel Brodell and Derek Lopez followed with big hits of their own, leading Team California to a 6-2 victory and a place in the tournament final.

In the championship game, Team California faced The Grizzlies in a highly anticipated final that Team California went on to win by a score of 12-0.

Montiel only gave up only one hit on the mound and hitting leaders were Montiel who went 3-for-3, Lopez who went 3-for-3, and Dominic Suarez who went 2-for-2.

“We hit very well as a team. All players were accountable for performing their jobs, offensively and defensively. I’m proud of the players. Also want to thank Brawley Parks and Rec for providing fields so we can practice and parents for their commitment,” Lopez added.

Along with the team’s success, two Team California baseball athletes have also embarked on an exciting opportunity in their young careers as Fernando and Carlos Villacaña have both signed to play for Toros De Tijuana in the Mexican Professional baseball league.

Tune in in the upcoming weeks for news on these athletes as they take the next step in their young baseball careers.