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The DICK'S Sporting Goods
PONY League World Series

Host Area Qualifier

- Youngstown -

In back-to-back years, Youngstown, Ohio has qualified to compete in the DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series (DSGPLWS). During the Host Area tournament in McCandless, Pennsylvania, Youngstown went undefeated in pool play before advancing to the championship game.

Youngstown started the tournament against North Suburban-Butler, Pennsylvania and came out with a 13-3 victory. In the following day of the tournament, Youngstown faced Peters Township, Pennsylvania and continued the offensive onslaught with a 19-1 victory.

Defeating Peters Township qualified Youngstown for the championship game in which the team faced North Suburban-Butler again. This time, the game wasn’t much of a blow out with Youngstown giving up seven runs. Despite this, the offense came through for an 11-7 victory that qualified Youngstown for the DSGPLWS.

Youngstown initially qualified for the DSGPLWS in 1955 then once again in 1960, 2011 and 2017. In the 1955 season, Youngstown was the runner up after losing to Washington, Pennsylvania. In the tournament, Youngstown made it to the semifinal game against Seoul, Korea, who defeated Youngstown 11-1. This year, Youngstown will begin the tournament in Game #2 against European Zone Representative Vienna, Austria on Friday at 8 p.m. ET/US.

West Zone Qualifier

- Long Beach -

Long Beach, California will return to the DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series (DSGPLWS) for the sixth time in its history, after becoming the PONY West Zone champion. Despite losing in the second game of the West Zone Championships in West Hills, California, Long Beach battled back and defeated San Diego (Tecolote-Red), California in the championship game.

On the opening day of the tournament, Long Beach faced South Sound, Washington. With strong defense and run support to back it up, Long Beach defeated South Sound 20-0. In the second game, Long Beach lost its only game of the tournament against Maui, Hawaii, 6-5.

After moving on to defeat Orem, Utah 13-3, Long Beach had to face Maui in back-to-back games to qualify for the championship. Despite losing to Maui earlier in the tournament, Long Beach continued its winning streak, defeating Maui 2-1 and 13-10.

In the championship game against Tecolote, Jack Dhein was the starting pitcher for Long Beach. After giving up a run in the second inning, Dhein went on to strikeout four, giving up only three hits. Offensively, Long Beach was led by Ryan Geck, who put up three RBIs on three hits. Geck also contributed offensively with a home run, along with Myles Patton.

Leading 5-1 going into the top of the seventh inning, Long Beach lengthened the lead to 8-1 off Patton’s home run. Jackson Haberland came on in the bottom of the seventh in replacement of Dhein to close out the game. Haberland shut the door down, giving up no runs on no hits, while securing the championship title for Long Beach and the team’s sixth trip to the DSGPLWS.

Out of the six appearances by Long Beach in the DSGPLWS, it has won the World Series four times (1959, 1965, 2008 and 2012). In the team’s most recent championship, Long Beach went undefeated through the bracket to face Chinese Taipei in the championship game. With the aid of three home runs, Long Beach held on to a 9-7 victory over Chinese Taipei. This year, Long Beach will start the DSGPLWS against the winner of the East Zone Champion Bronx, New York and Host Washington County matchup. Long Beach will play on Sunday at Noon ET/US in Game #6.

North Zone Qualifier

- Bay County -

For the seventh-consecutive year, Bay County, Michigan is returning to the DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series as the PONY North Zone champion. After working through pool play with an undefeated record and only giving up six runs total in the tournament, Bay County went on to defeat Eastern Illinois in the championship game.

The tournament started with Bay County facing Eastern Illinois and working a 11-0 blowout. The offensive dominance continued for Bay County into the second game of the tournament against Bay County Purple, coming away with a 10-0 victory.

In the third game of the tournament against the Central Michigan Stars, Bay County gave up its first runs of the tournament, but still worked a 15-4 victory. With the victory, Bay County qualified for a semifinal matchup against Oak Park (River Forest), Illinois. The offense put up 14 runs against Oak Park and qualified for the championship game with a 14-2 victory. In the championship game against Eastern Illinois, Bay County put together its strongest offensive performance in a 21-0 blowout, qualifying for the DSGPLWS.

In total, Bay City/County, Michigan has qualified for the World Series 11 times dating back to its first-ever appearance in 1983. Last year, Bay County advanced to the semifinals, ultimately falling to eventual champion Covina, California 14-1. This year, Bay County will lead off the tournament by facing Caribbean Zone Champion Yaguate, Dominican Republic in Game #1 on Friday, at 8:30 p.m. ET/US.

East Zone Qualifier

- Bronx -

After defeating Cleveland, Ohio in the PONY East Zone championship game, Bronx, New York has qualified for the first time in the history of the DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series (DSGPLWS).

The tournament began for
Bronx with a 13-2 blowout against Southampton-Sussex, Virginia. After defeating Southhamption-Sussex, Bronx faced Cleveland twice before they matched up again in the title bout.

In the first game against Cleveland, Bronx pulled away with a close 4-3 victory. After Cleveland worked its way through the losers bracket, it qualified for the semifinals and handed Bronx its first loss of the tournament 14-4. In the championship game, momentum swung back in favor of the Bronx, and the squad eventually defeated the Ohioans for a third time in the tournament (4-3) to qualify for the DSGPLWS.

While this is the first time Bronx has ever qualified for the World Series, five other teams from the state of New York have made it in years past. The earliest team was Levittown, who qualified in 1959, and then Brooklyn, which qualified twice, in 1979 and 1991. Most recently, New York (FNHA) qualified in 2003. Bronx will have the opportunity to win New York its first DSGPLWS title this year. Its first game of the 2018 DSGPLWS will be against Host Washington County, Pennsylvania, Saturday at Noon ET/US.

Caribbean Zone Qualifer

- Yaguate - 

For the first time in program history, Yaguate, San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic has won the PONY Caribbean Zone title after defeating defending Zone champion Puerto Rico 8-7 in a championship game that lasted 10 innings. As the Zone champion, Yaguate will compete in the DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series (DSGPLWS) for the first time ever.

Yaguate had to defeat Puerto Rico for the second time in three days in order to win a title. In the championship game, the game opened with Puerto Rico putting a run across in the first inning when Antonio Rodriguez drove in Luis Nieves on a sacrifice fly. Yaguate responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the inning with Erick Hernandez putting down a single to left field, which scored Felix Tena from second base.

Then, in the top of the second inning, Puerto Rico retook the lead after a pair of singles from Carlos Rodriguez and Edgar Gonzalez was followed by an RBI double from Luis Gonzalez. Luis Gonzalez stole third base, and the next batter walked and stole second. Luis Gonzalez crossed home plate following a passed ball, and the next batter, Raul Morales, scored the runner remaining on base.

Now trailing 5-1, Yaguate was able to re-tie the game in the bottom of the third inning. After loading the bases with no outs, Ambioris Tavarez and Hernandez hit back-to-back RBI ground outs to score two runs. Then, Daniel Vasque doubled to left, scoring Rickendy Martinez from third base to make the score 5-4. The equalizing run came after Jonatan Guzman advanced Vasque with a single before Cesar Aguas Viva put down an RBI single.

The next six innings remained scoreless between both teams, pushing the game into the 10th inning. At the top of the 10th inning, Puerto Rico scored the go-ahead run following four-consecutive walks and then the team added an insurance run, after Cristian Olivo hit into a double play that scored a runner from third (7-5).

With the championship on the line for Yaguate, Martinez and Tavarez both reached base to begin the bottom of the 10th thanks to a single and a walk. The bases were then loaded after Vasque reached on an error. With the game-winning run on first base, Guzman came through with a two-RBI single to center field, scoring the game-tying run with one out. With runners on first and second, Aguas Viva hit a sharp ground ball to the right of the Puerto Rican shortstop, who tossed it to the second baseman for an out. Looking to turn two and end the inning, the second baseman fired the ball to first in the dirt. The ball got away from Puerto Rico's first baseman, allowing Vasque to round third and score the game-winning run for Yaguate (8-7).

Yaguate began its journey to a title with a 10-0 victory against Ecuador. Yaguate defeated the same Puerto Rico team that it defeated in the championship game in pool play 4-1. The host team continued its dominance in its next two games to qualify for the championship game. The streak continued against Panama (11-1), before defeating Curaçao 14-5.

This year marks the first-ever Caribbean Zone title for Yaguate and the third for the nation of Dominican Republic since 2011. In 2011, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic defeated West Zone champion Long Beach, California 14-1, before exiting the tournament, after losses to Asia-Pacific Zone Champion Taipei County, Chinese Taipei 5-4 and a rematch to Long Beach 20-10. The 2016 Dominican Republic team that qualified for the DSGPLWS did not participate due to travel issues.

Yaguate’s first game will take place against the PONY North Zone Champion in the first game of the tournament Friday, Aug. 10 at 5:30 p.m. ET/US.

Asia-Pacific Zone Qualifier

- Chinese Taipei -

For the fourth time in the last five years, Chinese Taipei has qualified for the DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series (DSGPLWS) as the champion of the PONY Asia-Pacific Zone. Taipei County, Chinese Taipei defeated host Japan 8-7 in extra innings in a championship game that was one for the ages, Friday, June 29, at the Pony Asia-Pacific Zone Championships in Okinawa. This year represents Chinese Taipei’s 12th Pony Asia-Pacific Zone title this century and 17th since the team originally qualified for the PONY World Series in 1994.

The tournament began for Chinese Taipei against Korea, an opponent that the team did not struggle with and defeated 6-1. It was even easier in CT’s second game, a 22-0 victory over Australia, in which the CT pitching staff struck out 11 of the 14 batters they faced. The offensive showcase continued for Chinese Taipei in the third day of the tournament, as it defeated India 33-0.

It was then that Chinese Taipei faced its toughest match in pool play against an undefeated Japan. Both teams were tied going into the bottom of the fifth inning when a throwing error by Chinese Taipei on a strikeout led to Japan scoring the eventual game-winning run (7-6). In the semi-final game of the tournament, CT rematched Korea and won handedly 12-2, qualifying for the championship, another rematch with Japan.

The game eventually went into extra innings, and was a back-and-forth game all game long, as fans witnessed five lead changes and two ties.

With a one-run lead going into the top of the seventh, Chinese Taipei seemingly put the game out of reach for Japan, after it scored a pair of runs to make it 7-5. However, Japan went to work with one out in the bottom of the seventh, as Kairi Nakahodo led the offensive effort with a triple to right field. Kosei Kaida brought home Nakahodo with a triple of his own, which put the equalizing run just 80 feet from home plate. During the next at-bat, Ryusei Arakawa hit a ground ball to the pitcher who threw on to first, allowing Kaida to score and push the game into extra innings.

In the top of the eighth inning, Shu-Wei Kuo reached on a fielder’s choice and was moved to second on another fielder's choice. With two out and a runner on second, Sin-Jie Wu put the first pitch he saw into center field, scoring Kuo and giving Chinese Taipei the lead. With their backs against the wall, Japan got Ikki Asahi to reach on an error before Tomotaka Nohara singled to center. With two runners on, Atsuki Watanabe bunted both runners up a base, before the game was ended on a double play during the next at-bat. Final score: 8-7 Taipei County, who walked out of the stadium as the Asia-Pacific Zone Champion.

Chinese Taipei has been a juggernaut at the DSGPLWS in recent years. Since 2010, Chinese Taipei has qualified as the Asia-Pacific Zone Champion five times, has won two titles (2015-16) and has finished in second three times (2011-12, 2014). Since 1994, a Chinese Taipei team has qualified to compete in the PONY League World Series 16 times. In every one of those appearances, Chinese Taipei has finished in third place or better. Taipei County’s 2016 title marked Chinese Taipei’s eighth, the second-most of any U.S. state or international country.

As the Asia-Pacific Zone champion, Taipei County has earned an automatic bid to the DSGPLWS in Washington, Pennsylvania. The team will face the winner of Game #1 between the North Zone Champion and the Caribbean Zone Champion in Game #5 on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 5:30 p.m. ET/US.

European Zone Qualifier

- Austria Academy -

The Austrian Baseball Academy from Vienna found an unconventional route to qualifying for the 2018 DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series (DSGPLWS). At the four-day PONY European Zone Championships in Prague, Czech Republic in April, Vienna went on to finish in third place. European Zone Champion the Netherlands and Finalist Paderborn, Germany, could not commit to participating in Washington, Pennsylvania due to players’ schedule conflicts. Therefore, the Zone’s automatic bid was extended to Vienna, who accepted. Thus, Austria will serve as the PONY European Zone Representative at the DSGPLWS this year, marking its second appearance in the last four years.

The European Zone Championships opened for Austria with a near perfect game by Heinzle Levin, who pitched a four-inning no-hitter against the London Mets. The only player who reached base against Vienna got there by way of a fielding error. Besides a faultless pitching performance, the offense put together a 12-run effort, which was highlighted by four home runs. Alexander Seidenberger had two home runs of his own, including a three-run home run in the second inning. Directly after Seidenberger’s shot in the second, Benjamin Pfӧrtner followed up with a solo home run of his own. Garry Mc Eoghan would go deep for the Austrian Academy as well in the third.

After defeating the London Mets 12-0 in the opening game of the tournament, Vienna went on to face the team that went undefeated in pool play, the German Academy. After giving up a run in the first inning when Berger van Moritz hit an RBI double for the Germans, Austria put up a pair of runs in the second inning, after loading the bases. Lukas Pichler hit a bases loaded single, which scored Dan Kawanishi and Alexander Resel, giving the Austrian Academy a 2-1 lead. The game remained competitive with both teams tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the fourth inning. It was then that Vienna’s pitching staff unraveled, as the team gave up seven runs in the bottom of the fourth and lost the game 10-3.

Austrian went on to win the next three games of the tournament. It started with defeating Israel A 9-1. Pfӧrtner got his third home run of the tournament against Israel A with a two run shot in the second inning. He would finish the game leading the team with three RBIs. Next, Vienna put together another 10-run win against Kaunas, Lithuania, 11-1. In a tighter game, the Austrian Academy faced the Czech Academy from Brno and was able to edge them out 8-5. Pfӧrtner hit his fourth home run of the tournament and Kawanishi went deep for Austria as well in the game.

In the second to last game of the tournament for Austria, the team faced the only squad that had managed to beat them in pool play, Paderborn, German. It was another low scoring affair for the majority of the game. Austria scored first, with a run in the third inning from a fielding error. The lead didn’t last long, as Paderborn put up a pair of runs in the bottom of the third, before exploding offensively with eight runs in the fourth inning, including two home runs. Vienna was shut down offensively, with just four hits in the game, eventually losing 11-1.

After the defeat against the German Academy, Vienna had one game remaining in the tournament, a third-place consolation against Holland B. Holland opened the scoring with a run in the first inning off a wild pitch. Austria answered with five runs of their own in the top of the third inning. After three singles, a double and a three run home run from Eoghan in the third, Austria held on to a 5-1 lead. In the bottom of the third, Holland tied the ballgame with four runs of its own. However, Vienna put the ball game away in the top of the fifth inning with four runs off three home runs from Eoghan, Kawanishi and Nico Shüler. With a 10-6 victory over Holland, Austria Academy finished in third-place in Prague.

The last time Austria was represented in the DSGPLWS was in 2015. That year, Vienna went 1-2 and was knocked out by Mexico Zone Champion Mazatlán, Sinaloa. This year, the Austrian Academy will face the Host Area Champion in Game #2 of the DSGPLWS on August 10 at 8 p.m. ET/US with the opportunity to win the first World Series title for the nation of Austria and the PONY European Zone.

Mexico Zone Qualifier

- Tijuana -

After battling through an eight-game stretch at the PONY Mexico Zone Championships in Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes with an undefeated record, Tijuana, Baja California has qualified for the 2018 DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series (DSGPLWS) as the Mexico Zone Champion. After winning the Zone’s automatic qualifying bid, Tijuana will make its first-ever appearance at the DSGPLWS in 2018.

Tijuana began the tournament with a dominating effort, combining for 18 runs off 15 hits to defeat Tamaulipas 18-1 in just four innings after plating all 18 runs in the opening two frames. In the first game of the tournament, both Isaac Barriga and Roberto Cardona hit home runs.

In Tijuana’s second game, the offense was the determining factor yet again. Tijuana jumped out to a 6-1 lead over Juarez City (Liga Villermosa), Chihuahua in the opening two innings, but then Liga Villermosa battled back and took a 7-6 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. Tijuana, aided by 1.2 scoreless innings pitched by Miguel Sepulveda, put up two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, which was the difference in an 8-7 victory.

After giving up seven runs in the previous game, the pitching buckled down for Tijuana, as Roberto Cordona pitched a complete game against Chihuahua in the third game of the tournament. Cordona only gave up two runs on two hits with six strikeouts, while his offense backed him up with 13 runs of support. Offensively, Juan Valenzuela led the team with four RBIs and a home run. Miguel Sepulveda also combined for four RBIs on two hits in the game.

Into the fourth game, facing Yucatan, it was another close game for Tijuana. After developing a one run lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning, Yucatan plated a run to push the game into extra innings. In the top of the eighth, Tijuana plated a pair of runs to ultimately win the game, 6-4.

The next game against Linda Vista (Mexico City) wasn’t as single sided, as Tijuana put up 13 runs in five innings with a home run off of Aldrich Leon. Tijuana managed to edge out Navojoa, Sonora in the sixth game of the tournament 5-3, as the game was highlighted by the pitching performance of Juan Carlos Munoz. In the game, Munoz only gave up a single hit over 5.1 innings pitched with a total of nine strikeouts.

Tijuana’s pitching prowess continued into the seventh game with David Gomez on the mound. Only giving up two runs on four hits, Gomez struck out 11 batters in six innings of work. Tijuana would hang on against Villa Hermosa and win 4-2, advancing to the championship game.

In the title game of the tournament, Tijuana faced Hermosillo (Unison), Sonora and started hot, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Putting up three runs on Tijuana in the top of the sixth inning, Unison came within one run of tying the game, 6-5. Tijuana held on, aided by three runs of their own in the sixth inning, to win the game and qualify for the 2018 DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series by a final score of 9-5.

In the game, Roberto Cardona, Ernesto Lopez and Aldrich Leon each put up two RBIs for Tijuana at the plate. The pitching was led by Isaac Barriga, who threw 3.1 innings of work. He struck out two and gave up two runs on five hits. In the championship game in total, Tijuana’s pitching staff combined for seven strikeouts.

Looking ahead, Tijuana will represent the Mexico Zone in the DSGPLWS in August. The first game of the tournament will take place against the South Zone champion at noon ET/US on August 11. Tijuana has the opportunity to become the first world series champion for the Mexico Zone since 1972 when Monterey won the title and the first team from Mexico to appear in the world series since 2013 when Okinawa, Japan knocked off Los Mochis, Sinaloa.

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