Sunday, June 4, 2017

• Wildomar Little League Hosts TLC

Marna O'Brien park was abuzz all weekend long with 14 of the 27 games played in The 2017 Paul Wahl Tournament of Champions.

The Tournament will be going on for the rest of the week, but Wildomar Little League will also be hosting District 28 All-Star games that will run throughout the month of June, and into the first part of July. 
A panoramic view of the hills to the west before the Wildomar Land Sharks v LE Dodgers AAA game, as the players, and those in attendance, recited the pledge of allegiance. WLL photographer, April Roberts, can be seen capturing the moment near the first base dugout.
On Saturday morning the festivities began with three games. Each started with an introduction of the league officials, city officials, the coaches and the players. After which Tim Underdown, district official for Little League, had the kids gather round for a pep talk. 
Tim Underdown reminds the players about sportsmanship, having fun and staying hydrated before the AA match that had Wildomar playing against Temescal Valley. After a great comeback, Wildomar ended up being bested by a run. 

I had a chance to catch up with Tim Underdown between games and ask him some questions about the event. Not an easy feat, as he was constantly on the move between the three fields. 
In the background: Wildomar Mayor Tim Walker can be seen (Gray shirt and ball cap), along with council members Dustin Nigg and Marsha Swanson. In the turquoise polo shirt is city manager Gary Nordquist, and way over on the right, broadcasting on FaceBook live is councilmember Bridgette Moore.

The planning for the June-long events began last October. In years past, the various leagues of District 28 would bid to host the TOC (Tournament of Champions). Since Wildomar had never hosted before, it was a lead pipe cinch that their bid would be accepted.

Generally, AA is comprised of 8 and 9 year old players. AAA is made up of players 9, 10 and 11.

Though the weekend of June 3rd and 4th was the official beginning of the tournament, last week there were games for the 50/70 division (13 year old players). 
Before every game, the teams would have the players announced, and then they take their place on the field before the pledge of allegiance and the Little League pledge.
The teams in the AA division have a single elimination tournament, while the AAA and Majors are having double elimination. AA will have the championship game on Monday, June 5th. 

If one of the teams from the loser's bracket pulls off a win in their "if" game, (which is where the winner of the loser's bracket plays the undefeated team), there would be a rematch for the championship.

Majors and AAA will have their championship games played on Thursday, June 8th at 6:00pm. If there is need for a rematch, that'll be held Friday, June 9th at 6:00pm.
From left to right: From the VFW Steve Regalado, Marsha Swanson, Bridgette Moore, Ben Benoit, Tim Walker, Lisa Ballard, Tim Underdown and Chad Hilzer.

TOC differs from the all star tournament in that TOC teams are the actual teams, from the various leagues and divisions, that won their divisions. 

The all star teams are made up of the best players from each league. Kids that had been playing against each other all season before being chosen to represent their league as a new unit.

District 28 is one of seventy-three districts in California, and includes teams from 
  • Canyon Lake
  • Lake Elsinore
  • Menifee Valley 
  • Murrieta 
  • Temecula 
  • Temescal Valley
  • Wildomar

I had a chance to watch a very exciting game between the Wildomar AAA Land Sharks and the Lake Elsinore AAA Dodgers. The story was that each of the teams had only lost two games all year long, and because of inter league play, each of the two losses happened to be to the other team. 
It was a sea of blue as both teams and the umpires were all wearing a similar shade of blue.

The game started with the Land Sharks jumping out to an early 3-1 lead, including many fine defensive plays to kill the Dodgers rallies. In the bottom of the 5th, the Sharks were able to get an insurance run to make the score 5-3. 

The Dodgers had staged a comeback and pushed across 3 runs to take the lead. In the bottom of the 6th (the last inning in a Little League game) the Land Sharks staged a rally, but the player that knocked in the tying run was called out due to coach's interference; he touched the runner while the play was still live.
The bat meets the ball.
Instead of the winning run being only 60 feet away with no outs. The bases were empty with one out. The Wildo'Sharks weren't able to get another run that inning, which triggered an extra inning.

The Sharks put Robert Gates in to pitch and he put the Dodgers down quickly, making a good play on a squibber back to him that had some tricky English on it. In the bottom half of the 7th inning, needing only one run, they scored it on some timely hitting and won the game.

In the mix was a great play by the Dodger center fielder that prevented the winning run from scoring (I can't remember if that was in the 6th or 7th inning). I also apologize to the rest of the Land Sharks for not knowing their names... but hey, like coach Michael made it clear... they either win as a team or lose as a team.
This is my favorite picture. I'm sure that when I was ten years old, I closed my eyes during an at bat or two... both as a batter and a probably while catching too (thankfully there is no photographic proof though ☺). Still, gotta love the ump, also with his eyes closed.
Next game for the Land Sharks will be Tuesday, June 6th at 6:00pm. 

Now for a bit of fun:
On both Saturday and Sunday morning, four of the Wildomar city council members came to the park, to be part of the pregame ceremonies. 

Missing on Saturday was Ben Benoit, and on Sunday, Dustin Nigg had other engagements. So, I added the missing one to round out the five. My 10 minute photoshop job is why you can't even believe the things you see these days. ☺
Apologies to League Representative Lisa Ballard.
I removed her to make room for the 5th council member.

•          •          •

Failures are like skinned knees, painful but superficial.
– Ross Perot

Wildomar Rap doesn't suggest using Bactine on your failures, even if they are superficial.


  1. How about that enormous crowd for the free concert and Beer N Wine Garden that closed out the evening.

    1. Indeed, the chairs were mostly empty for the concert. Both acts were great and many people missed out.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks... I had "Dusting" instead of Dustin under one of the pics. I also had called Tim Underdown, Tim Under once. And misspelled Lisa Ballard's first name too.


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