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November 28, 2022

Morgan Hill PONY Pinto All Stars have a season to remember

The Morgan Hill Pinto 8U All Star team made history this summer, joining a short list of squads from the local PONY organization to advance to the World Series. 

The 8U team played in the World Series at San Jose’s Police Activities League Stadium July 14-19. Morgan Hill went 1-2 to cap off a tremendous season. It earned a spot in the World Series by going 4-0 in winning the Coast Regional Championship in Carmel July 6-10. 

“It was a huge accomplishment to be able to play in the World Series,” Pinto Manager Daniel Cardwell said. “The kids all had a smile on their faces and held their heads high. They understood and definitely took the (final) loss well, which is good to see because some kids get super down on themselves.

“I was just happy to get to that type of tournament playing all these teams from the West Coast. These teams were the best of the best and it showed. A lot of the teams we were playing were more like travel ball teams than PONY. The kids from LA bring some heat so there was no reason for our kids to hang their heads. They played their hearts out.”

The Morgan Hill roster include Brody Cardwell, Casen Wright, Hudson Gonzales, Hudson Gunter, Eddie Rodriguez, Blake Thomas, Rey Altamirano, Audrina Salinas, Dallas Admassu, Graham Smith, JJ Oneil, Charlie Post and Zander Skuratovskiy. 

Cardwell’s coaching staff include Chris Wright, TJ Gunter and Stephen Smith. Morgan Hill dominated the Coast Regional Championship in Carmel, going 4-0 and mercy-ruling each opponent in the process. In the World Series, Morgan Hill lost to Olive of Orange County 11-1, beat Salinas-Toro 15-7 and lost to Rodeo, 15-7. 

Even though Morgan Hill had a tough go of it in the World Series, Cardwell said the teams they lost to were powerhouse teams. During All Star play, pitchers Cardwell, Wright and Admassu ate up innings and put the team in position to excel. 

Gunter, the team’s catcher, threw out four would-be base-stealers during the season. Altamirano spelled him on occasion and performed well. Post, Salinas, Oneil and Thomas led the way offensively, and Rodriguez hit the team’s lone over the fence home run in the Coast Regional Championship tournament. Morgan Hill PONY has been the city’s premier youth baseball organization for decades. There are six divisions: Champions (special needs 5 and up), Shetland (6U), Pinto (8U), Mustang (10U), Bronco (12U) and Pony (14U). 

Kids start in Shetland (some as early as 3 years old) and progress through the divisions as they age up. 

In a typical year, 500 kids participate to play in one of the divisions, Cardwell said. He managed the White Sox in the Pinto Majors Division this past spring. 

The White Sox took home the city league championship before the All Star players were selected from each of the five teams in the Pinto Majors Division. They assembled shortly after Memorial Day and played a non-league tournament to prep for the Coast Regional Championship. 

Four of the 13 players—Cardwell, Wright, Gunter and Gonzales—are 7-year-olds that played up an age group. Daniel Cardwell knows how tough it is to get to the World Series, making the team’s accomplishment all the more impressive. 

“I think one of our Shetland teams went to the World Series five years ago,” he said. “That is a coach-pitch division. Other than that, I know it’s been a while since we had a team go this far.”

Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]

Emanuel Lee
Sports Editor of the Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance and Morgan Hill Times. PR of 3:13.40 at the 2019 CIM. Hebrews 12:1.

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