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Olive Pony Team Brings Home Another World Series Title

Olive Pony Team Brings Home Another World Series Title

The Olive Pony Baseball’s 11-and-under team pose for a photo after they won the World Series championship in Chesterfield, Va., on July 24, 2023. (Courtesy of Greg Cicero)

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

7/26/2023

Updated: 7/26/2023

Twelve youngsters from the city of Orange, California, can lay claim to something of a dynasty after winning their fourth Pony World Series championship July 24 in Chesterfield, Virginia.
Olive Pony Baseball’s 11-and-under team broke open a scoreless duel in the sixth inning and went on to a 6–0 victory over Los Mochis, Mexico in the championship game of the Bronco division World Series at Harry G. Daniel Park.
Olive’s Jake Barragan threw a seven-inning complete game, limiting Los Mochis to just three hits, and captured the tournament’s award for lowest earned-run average.
Teammate Andrew Waibel won the World Series batting-average award.
Facing a combination of Pony and travel-ball opponents, many of them 12-and-under teams, Olive completed a season that began in January with a 66–3–1 record.
The team had won 7-and-under, 9-and-under, and 10-and-under World Series titles in previous years, with the COVID pandemic preventing them from potentially adding an 8-and-under crown in 2020.
“It’s rare to be able to keep a team together for this long,” Olive Coach Greg Cicero told The Epoch Times. “We’re lucky. It only works if you have really good families and players that are selfless and play for each other.”
Olive Coach Greg Cicero and his team members watching the game before them in the semi finals. (Courtesy of Greg Cicero)

Olive Coach Greg Cicero and his team members watching the game before them in the semi finals. (Courtesy of Greg Cicero)

A leadoff double by Gavin Klovstad ignited Olive’s key rally in the championship game.
After an intentional walk to cleanup hitter Joe Velazquez—the team’s home run and RBI leader—and a passed ball, Christian Cicero drove a two-run single up the middle. Adam Churney later added an RBI single, and another run scored on an error.
Barragan needed only 68 pitches while striking out five and walking none to nail down the shutout and secure the championship.
“Normally, I would never pitch anybody seven innings,” Mr. Cicero said. “But because his pitch count was so low and because it was our last game of the season, and he’s kind of that bulldog that wants the ball and wants to finish the game, especially in those big moments, I just let him finish it out.”
With all 12 players on its roster pitching at some point, Olive boasted extraordinary depth on the mound. Never was that more evident than in the World Series opener against the host team, Chesterfield. Klovstad and Josh Perez combined to pitch a perfect game in a 15–0 victory.
Olive completed double-elimination bracket play with a 16–0 win over Nassau, Bahamas and a 9–1 triumph over West Raleigh, North Carolina.
Eli Guerra, Luke McCuistion, Ryan Francisco, Seth Windsor, and Talyx-Rush Sylva also made key contributions for Olive throughout the tournament.
The Olive Pony Baseball’s 11-and-under team celebrating after winning the World Series championship in Chesterfield, Va., on July 24, 2023. (Courtesy of Greg Cicero)

The Olive Pony Baseball’s 11-and-under team celebrating after winning the World Series championship in Chesterfield, Va., on July 24, 2023. (Courtesy of Greg Cicero)

Los Mochis went undefeated in its bracket as well, beating Houston; Smithfield, Virginia; and Quezon City, Philippines by a combined score of 56–6 to set up the winner-take-all finale.
“They had a good team and a really good pitcher, too,” Mr. Cicero said. “It was one of the most competitive games we’ve played. People in Virginia said it was the most entertaining and well-played game they’ve seen in some time.”
Olive advanced to the World Series by winning a district tournament on its home field at Olive Park in Orange, a regional tournament in Irvine, and the West Zone tournament in Walnut.
Even with all its success, winning has certainly not become an old hat for Olive.
“I think people take it for granted,” Mr. Cicero said. “They think the team is so good that we just show up and we win. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Every year gets harder. The bulls-eye on your back, because everybody knows who you are, gets bigger and bigger. You always see their best players, their best pitchers, and their best shot. They’re all wanting to validate what they are by beating you.”
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Dan Wood

Dan Wood

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Dan Wood is a community sports reporter based in Orange County, California. He has covered sports professionally for some 43 years, spending nearly three decades in the newspaper industry and 14 years in radio. He is an avid music fan, with a strong lean toward country and classic rock.

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