The Long Beach PONY 14U All-Star team is headed back to the PONY World Series in Washington, Pennsylvania. That’s now the fifth time in the last 12 years. Weird.
I think we need to start asking ourselves an important question: is Ken Jakemer a wizard?
Honestly, he’s like the Dumbledore of Whaley. Just like Hermione Granger says in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “As long as Dumbledore is around, you’re safe. As long as Dumbledore is around, you can’t be touched.”
The same goes for Jakemer because just like Hogwarts, Long Beach PONY has been a dynasty with him around.
Jakemer was a coach in 2007 when they finished as runners-up to Puerto Rico after an 8-3 loss in the World Series game. He took the 2008 team to Long Beach PONY’s first World Series title since 1965 after Oliver Van Buskirk hit a walk-off bomb to beat Chinese-Taipei 3-2. In 2011, they made the trip back to Washington, Pennsylvania, and finished in the Final Four before winning the World Series again in 2012. Jakemer wasn’t on the staff in 2012, but he was the coach of the 13U team that year.
Now, they’re headed back to the World Series with Jakemer at the helm after Long Beach PONY beat Tecolote 8-1 in the West Zone Tournament championship game. They’re 19-1 since June 23 with their only loss coming to Hawaii in Zone. They then beat Hawaii twice before advancing to the championship. This team also beat Heartwell 23-1 earlier this summer. Yikes, Heartwell. I remember when that was a rivalry.
So embrace debate: who’s the best Long Beach PONY team of all time?
In my opinion, I’d take the 2007 team over any Whaley squad since 1959. That team invented the home run with Alex Campbell, Drew Ahumada, Dylan Romo, and Taylor Sparks, all the while Chris Hubbard is and will be the greatest PONY baseball player ever to walk the earth. And Spencer Troutman is a close second.
But to be honest, I didn’t realize how close it would be because 2008 was ridiculous too. Soloman Williams and Chase De Jong absolutely shoved all summer long and they didn’t have a soft spot in the lineup. Brett Harper could fly, Daniel DeWolf couldn’t get out, and they had a big bopper in Thomas Walker in the middle of the lineup. Oh, and if you forgot, Oliver Van Buskirk hit a walk-off tank TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES. Incredible.
“But what about 2012? They won it all too…”
Well, Jakemer wasn’t on the coaching staff, so that immediately becomes a disadvantage. But they made up for it with a pair of twins—Spencer and Trevor Steer. I don’t have a twin, but if I did, he (or she) would agree with me when I say you can’t beat that type of camaraderie. Spencer Steer mashed and still does at the University of Oregon. He had TWO home runs in the World Series championship game when they beat Chinese-Taipei 9-7. Jacob Hughey is at Long Beach State and was an RBI machine for that 2012 team. And they had two horses on the bump in Jack Williford and Will Semonsen. So yeah, maybe.
Still, I’ll take 2007 any day of the week, but pick your poison. And the book is still out on this 2018 World Series team, but I’m all in. They’re VERY deep and VERY clutch. Ryan Skjonsby and Robert Voss came up with huge hits against Hawaii in Zone. This kid Ryan Geck had 14 home runs in the regular season?! That’s ridiculous. And they have about six aces on the staff. That might not even be a joke. Myles Patton, Jack Dhein, Adam Cramer, Brendan Wilkinson, Izzy Santillan, Jackson Haberland, Jake Ehmann. They all deal.
Cheer on the boys by streaming it live at PONY.org. Long Beach PONY has an opening round bye to start the World Series and takes on the winner of Bronx, New York, and Washington, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 12 at 9 a.m. PST.