Tuesday Aug 04 2009
San Bernardino send-off
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
Community gathers in support of Lakeside all-stars
The supporters of Lakeside Little League gathered Monday night at Feist Park in Granite Bay to celebrate and to prepare for the next step in an exciting all-star journey. After an amazing seven-day run through the best teams in Northern California, the Major division all-stars of Lakeside stand alone and will represent the upper half of the state in the Little League Western Region tournament beginning Friday in San Bernardino. The last Major division team from this area to get this far was Lakeside’s 2003 team, and before that the 1994 Roseville West squad. One of the greatest strengths of this Lakeside team should serve it well in Southern California. It is the same thing that allowed this talented group to win five straight must-win games over the last six days here in Danville. “We knew we had to take it one game at a time,” said southpaw pitcher and outfielder Zach Hall. His manager agrees, and says that his team has not allowed itself to look ahead despite the history and the well-known success of the 2003 team. “We have stressed one pitch, one play, one game at a time,” Rockefeller said. “(After the loss last Saturday) I knew we would win a couple of games, but pitching is so important. We got some great pitching all week and this team has great chemistry.” On Monday night, Rockefeller gathered his charges for one last practice on their home field before they hit the road. Once they arrive down south, they will work out at a field near to their San Bernardino tournament facility to get used to playing under the lights. The practice field belongs to the league where Rockefeller played his Little League baseball. The community event also provided an opportunity for the club to work out with confusion all around them, which their coaches hope will prepare them for the large crowds at Western Region. “It’s hard to simulate a game crowd,” Rockefeller said. We tested their nerves tonight with a little bit of a crowd and they handled it well.” Also present Monday night as Rockefeller’s guest was a friend of his – Jim Arbogast, an Auburn resident who played on the Auburn Little League team that went to the Little League World Series 50 years ago in 1959. Arbogast shared some memories with this group of athletes, and showed them a photo album of his experiences in Williamsport. “These kids can do so much more than they think they can,” Arbogast said. “As coaches, we just need to ask them to do what we know they are capable of doing. They have the ability to succeed.” The Western Region tournament begins with pool play as six teams (Lakeside and the winners of the state titles in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Hawaii and Southern California) battle it out for one spot at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn. Four pool play contests will eliminate two clubs, with the final four playing single-elimination to determine a winner. Lakeside opens with an 8 p.m. game Friday night against Nevada’s Leagacy Little League from Las Vegas, and then faces Arizona champion Arrowhead Little League from Glendale at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The final two pool-play contests follow on Monday and Wednesday (Aug. 10 and 12). Utah’s Cedar City American is the opponent at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 10 and then Hawaii’s Central East Maui Little League from Wailuku will be in the opposite dugout at 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 12. The Western Region semifinals are set for Friday, Aug. 14 and the championship game will air nationally on ESPN2 on Sunday, Aug. 16.