Lamorinda Baseball Club
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Road to Memphis

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Carry Monarchs to Memphis  

The road to Memphis and the National Youth Baseball Championships can be a long one.  For the 12u Lamorinda Monarchs from Northern California, it has been more than 23,000 miles.

“This season we’ve traveled about the same distance most major league teams have traveled, and I’m not exaggerating,” said Monarchs’ manager Guy Tucker.

Most of those miles have come during the team’s “Summer of Glove” tour, complete with tie-dye shirts and constantly-looped sixties music.  The “tour” started in Northern California with a victory at the World Series of NorCal.  From there, the team flew to Cooperstown, NY for a week-long tournament.  The entire team then boarded an Amtrak train for a 22-hour long ride to Orlando, FL and the AAU National Championship.

Tucker, who coached the 11u Lamorinda Cougars to a National Championship in 2008, knows that winning at this age takes more than talent.  “Our plan was to use the Cooperstown tournament to bond as a team and then the train ride to cement that bond.”

“By the time we got to Orlando, we were all like one big family,” added Monarchs Coach and hitting instructor Shaun Fackrell.

Like most families, the Monarchs experienced some ups and downs during the pool play rounds at the AAU National Championships.  Nevertheless, the Monarchs managed to go 4-2, and earned a bye into the quarterfinal round of the championship bracket.  From there, the Monarchs were as unstoppable as the train that brought them into town.

In the quarterfinals, behind Dylan Yasutake’s no-hitter, the Monarchs beat Southern California’s Walnut Mounties 10-0.  This set up a semi-final rematch with the top-seeded Chet Lemon’s Juice from Central Florida, the defending AAU National Champion, who had embarrassed the Monarchs 12-2 two days earlier in pool play.

This time, however, the Monarchs had Nico Hoerner on the mound.  Though the Juice were able to push across a couple of unearned runs in the first inning, Hoerner became untouchable, and no Juice runner advanced beyond second base for the rest of the game.

A first inning, two-out triple by Austin Garcia followed by a single by Jason Fackrell put the Monarchs on the board, and in the third inning a couple of Juice errors led to a three run Monarch rally.  That was all the Monarchs needed as Hoerner struck out eight and allowed only four hits in the 4-2 victory.

In the Finals, the Monarchs would match up with Super Series Champion, Twelve Team Rawlings out of Texas.  This time is it was Garcia’s turn to dominate on the mound for the Monarchs.  Garcia went the distance, allowing five hits and striking out six while holding the potent Team Rawlings team to a single run.

Like in the semifinals, Garcia got the offense rolling in the first inning of the Championship game.  With two out, Garcia doubled to center, and Fackrell again singled him home.  The Monarchs then broke open a tight game in the fourth with RBI singles by Nick Ultsch, Quinn Cambra, and Harbour Harrison.  In the fifth inning, the Monarchs added an insurance run with a Hoerner double and another RBI single by Fackrell.

Team Rawlings mounted a rally in the top of the sixth inning after a one-out walk was followed by a hit batter to bring Rawling’s cleanup hitter to the plate.  But Garcia struck out the next two batters to preserve the 5-1 victory and capture the AAU National Championship as the knee-sliding celebration ensued.

In sixteen innings of bracket play, Monarchs pitchers allowed one earned run, nine hits, and struck out eighteen.  Fackrell went six-for-seven at the plate and caught all three games, including calling his own game in the championship.  “Jason called the game better than I ever could have!” recalls Tucker.

“I’m very proud of how well we performed throughout the week, but I’m most proud of how we came together as a team.  We wouldn’t have won without the contributions we got from the entire roster,” said Tucker.  “It was an amazing team effort, and all I had to do was sit back and watch.”

The Monarchs will now head to Memphis to represent AAU in the New Era National Youth Baseball Championships (NYBC), August 26-29.  The NYBC pits the twelve-year-old champions from the eight major youth baseball organizations to determine an undisputed National Champion.  The event is put on by Major League Baseball and is broadcast nationally on the MLB Network and on MLB.com.  There is also a ten-year-old division the same weekend.

The Monarchs are the first team from Northern California to ever qualify for the NYBC.  They will be joined by fellow champions Tomateros de California (USSSA), Twelve Team Rawlings (Super Series), Banditos (NABF), and the soon-to-be-determined champions from Pony, Dixie, Babe Ruth and AABC.

Unlike Little League, the eight organizations of the NYBC play by Major League Baseball rules.  The NYBC will be played on a much larger field than Little League and with rules that allow steals, balks, and dropped third strikes, for example.  “NYBC is what all elite ballplayers dream of playing in,” says Coach Fackrell.

As coach Tucker explains, “Months ago, we drew up a plan to get us to Memphis, and Paul Simon’s Graceland has been our theme song all year.  I’m still a little stunned it all worked exactly as planned.  I’m also a bit dazed from all of the travel.  I think I need a vacation.”

We hear Memphis is nice this time of year.