By Zach Cavanagh
Dana Point Youth Baseball is reaching unforeseen heights.
In just the second year of their year-round, all-star selects program, DPYB’s initial selects group, the now 11U Tsunami, won the PONY West Zone SoCal Central Region Bronco 11 Division District championship on Sunday, June 23 in Orange.
By winning the District title, the Tsunami advances past this weekend’s Sectionals directly to Regionals, which begin July 5 in Cypress.
“Last year, they made it to the finals of Sectionals and lost as a (Mustang) 10U team,” Tsunami Manager Trevor Blackann said. “Over the course of a year, they were able to grow together, come together and bring something back that hadn’t been done in recent memory, with a banner.”
In Orange County PONY baseball, which stands for Protect Our Nation’s Youth, Dana Point Youth Baseball is a smaller program that has had trouble finding success at the higher postseason tournament level against larger organizations from North Orange County.
The selects program has proven to be an early success in pushing DPYB into higher ranks, including this Tsunami team as Mustang 10Us last year that encouraged DPYB to expand the program this season.
“The coolest thing about playing in DP baseball is the small community we have,” Blackann said. “It’s just a really cool community. Most of these kids have grown up since T-ball together.”
It wasn’t an easy road in the District tournament, as the 11U Tsunami won three tight games at the Olive PONY Baseball Field in Orange.
Dana Point opened on Thursday, June 20 with a 9-7 win over Newport Harbor, followed on Saturday, June 22 with a 6-5 win over Irvine, then won the title with a 6-3 win over Olive on Sunday, June 23. Against Irvine and Olive, the Tsunami collected 10 hits from 10 different players in each game.
“So many parts are interchangeable,” Blackann said. “Twelve kids that can pitch, 12 kids that can hit, extremely well-rounded. They’re a cool group of kids. They’re pumped.”
The Bronco 11U Tsunami is made up of Bo Blackann, Tommy Burke, Noah Darnell, Gavin Giese, Lincoln Hardy, Blake Herman, Tommy Moro, Jimmy Palda, Jed Popka, Gage Schroeter, Dane Whittaker and Justice Wilson. With Trevor Blackann as manager, the coaches are Eric Schroeter, Eric Hardy and James Palda.
If the 11U Tsunami advancss out of Regionals, which end July 9, the Bronco team would play on to Super Regionals on July 11, followed by the West Zone tournament on July 18 and, ultimately, the International World Series on July 26 in Virginia.
Dana Point Youth Baseball has another team looking to advance with the Mustang 10U team opening its District tournament on Saturday, June 29 in Los Alamitos.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports.