The Morgan Hill Pony Baseball Pony 8U team had a sizzling summer, going 15-2, winning three tournaments, and advancing to the semifinals of the West Zone World Series last weekend.

Manager Neil Berman called the Morgan Hill 8U Pinto All Star baseball team’s run this summer “magical,” and who’s to argue?

All Morgan Hill did was go 15-2, win three tournaments en route to a semifinal appearance in the Pinto West Zone World Series, finishing as the No. 1 team in Northern California. 

“It was a really impressive group of kids, parents, coaches, and just fantastic chemistry the entire summer,” Berman said. “It made things really enjoyable.”

The roster includes Camden Culp, Damian Langone, Jake Bowers, Mason Amick, Mason Mah, Mico Medenceles, Nathan Berman, Nathan Sura, Nicholas Nguyen, Parker Baklashov, Theo Concepcion, William Post, and Zayn Praskin with assistant coaches Evan Praskin and Jason Medenceles. 

The Pinto All Stars were assembled shortly in the week after Memorial Day from Morgan Hill’s five Pinto division recreation teams. The rec league season started in March, and from the 55 kids who played, 13 were selected to the All Star squad. 

Postseason play started in June and Morgan Hill went a perfect 13-0 in winning three tournaments in Seaside and Marina before capturing the Coast Regional in Pacific Grove on July 2. The latter tourney victory clinched the team a spot in the West Zone World Series in Rodeo, which is 25 miles northeast of San Francisco in Contra Costa County. 

Morgan Hill lost its World Series opener to Bel Passi of Modesto 16-14 before rebounding with a win over Marina. That set up an elimination-game rematch with Bel Passi, which Morgan Hill won in riveting fashion, 7-6. The victory put Morgan Hill in the semifinals, where it lost to No. 1 seed Olive of Orange County 10-0 on July 15. 

Morgan Hill was the lone NorCal squad among the last four teams standing, its win over Bel Passi serving as the de facto NorCal championship. The game was tied at 6-6 in the top of the sixth inning and Bel Passi had the bases loaded with two out when Post entered the game and delivered a strikeout to keep the game knotted up.

In the bottom of the sixth, Neil Berman said Bel Passi brought in its top pitcher and struck out the first two Morgan Hill batters. Just when it looked like the game was going into extra innings, Nathan Berman, the manager’s son, and Post hit back-to-back doubles—remarkably, both hits came on 0-2 counts—to account for the walk-off victory. 

“Their top pitcher was throwing very hard for this age group, probably more of the speed you see from a 9U pitcher,” Neil Berman said. “We thought we were going extra innings but were hoping not to, and our boys timed up those hits really well and we were able to celebrate. That was probably our most exciting game of the summer.”

Though Berman emphasized the team’s chemistry, he said he would be remiss not to mention the play of Mico Medenceles, who in four tournaments pitched 20 innings and struck out 50—yes, 50—while issuing just two walks. 

“Our success was more teamwork than individuals, but one individual effort should be noted is Mico Medenceles,” Berman said. “He had an amazing pitching line.” 

This is believed to be the only time in Morgan Hill Pinto All Star history it has won two games in the West Zone World Series, which is basically the best eight teams in California and features three squads from Southern California, two from the Coast Region (Morgan Hill and Marina) and two from the Northeast Region, which covers Sacramento, Modesto and the East Bay. 

Berman said he was proud of the team because most of their opponents were competing as a traveling squad and thus have been together for up to a year compared to Morgan Hill, which up until the World Series had been together for six weeks. 

“It was impressive for our group to only be together for five to six weeks and compete in the World Series and finish in the top four,” he said. 

Additionally, eight of the 13 boys were playing up in the older division and next year most of those younger kids will be competing for the Morgan Hill Toros, the 8U travel ball team which Berman will manage.

The Morgan Hill Pinto 8U baseball team went 15-2 this summer and advanced to the West Zone World Series.
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Emanuel Lee primarily covers sports for Weeklys/NewSVMedia's Los Gatan publication. Twenty years of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40, counts himself as a true disciple of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza.


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