Terry Bernal/Daily Journal
Pacifica American slugger Elijah Ricks hits his second home run in one inning during a 26-0 rout of Redwood City West Saturday. Ricks homered three times in two games for Pacifica American as the team outscored its opponents 46-1 over the weekend.
There is a lot of good news coming out of the baseball hotbed of Pacifica these days.
Terra Nova shared a co-championship with Carlmont in the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division earlier this year. The Pacifica Joe DiMaggio squad swept a doubleheader with Millbrae Sunday to improve its undefeated record to 16-0. The Pacifica Colt League team is playing for the league championship Monday against South City at San Bruno Park at 6:00 p.m.
Yet the current buzz from the Fog Capital of California is about the performance of the Pacifica American team through the opening two games of the District 52 Majors Tournament.
Pacifica American pummeled the opposition Saturday and Sunday at Redwood City’s Red Morton Field by a cumulative score of 46-1. The team banged out 43 hits and belted 13 home runs through just eight innings of play, as both games were halted after four innings by virtue of the mercy rule.
Elijah Ricks led the hit parade with a 6-for-8 showing with three doubles and three home runs. In Saturday’s 26-0 win over Redwood City West, the 12-year-old slugger went deep twice in the same inning — clubbing a three-run bomb followed by a grand slam — amid a 14-run rally in the fourth.
Leadoff hitter Cruise Thompson was 4 of 5 and also notched a two-home run game Saturday, while Nate Azzopardi twice went deep in Sunday’s 20-1 win over Palo Alto National.
“We can hit a little bit,” Pacifica American manager Steve Falk said.
And the dangerously balanced ballclub can do a lot more than hit. Pacifica American pitching allowed just three hits through the two games. Saturday, Chris Rodriguez, Andrew Harkness and Mateo Jimenez combined for a two-hit shutout. Sunday, Christian Falk, Ricks and Thompson combined on a one-hitter.
In his first season with the Pacifica American, Thompson has been a huge edition to the team. Cut from a football background — he recently finished his career as a running back with the Pacifica Tigersharks and is moving to the San Bruno Rams in the fall — Thompson has starred on the baseball diamond for the San Bruno All-Stars and San Mateo Federals travelling squads in recent years.
“[The decision to join Pacifica American] was pretty easy because they have a good team and they’ve won the last two or three years,” Thompson said.
The team certainly has won. As a 9 and 10-year-old squad, Pacifica American advanced to the biggest stage possible in 2012. The squad took the District 52 9/10 Tournament crown that season then rolled to a Section 3 championship.
“It was really fun,” Ricks said. “After sectionals, how we were playing, I knew we were going to go really far.”
That they did, as Pacifica American advanced to the Northern California regional tournament — the final stage of the 9 and 10-year-old All-Star season — only to lose in the championship game. In 2013, the team won the District 52 10/11 Tournament and returned to the Section 3 championship game only to lose, falling one game shy of another run at the regional crown.
Last year though, Pacifica American accomplished what it did without Ricks, who played for the 11 and 12-year-old squad. It was quite summer for Ricks, who went on to join the USA National Team, which played 17 games in Taiwan. It was surely a prestigious honor as the only other Bay Area product named to the team was Oakland’s Adam Crampton.
Now back with the same Pacifica American group with which he celebrated so much success in 2012, Ricks has opened with a flourish. His regular season for the Pacifica Little League Braves was a good primer. He hit 10 home runs to help the Braves to the championship game, only to lose to the Mets. But with the District 52 Majors Tournament serving as the preliminary round on the road to Williamsport, Pennsylvania and the Little League World Series, Ricks and company have got their sights set on Little League baseball’s primetime.
While Pacifica has always been a baseball hotbed, this year the city’s baseball community is firing on all cylinders. Pacifica Joe DiMaggio manager Bryan Powers gave some insight as to what the driving force is behind Pacifica’s outstanding across-the-board performance on the diamond this year.
Powers grew up in Pacifica watching local legends like pitcher Greg Reynolds and outfielders Will Vogl and Jimmy Parque, all of whom went on to play professional baseball. And according to Pacifica’s Joe D. skipper, the secret to the Pacifica’s success is the passing of the torch of generational talent.
“These kids are seeing really good baseball players come through,” Powers said. “Now, the kids are living up to the success.”