If you attend enough baseball games, you’ll inevitably hear a couple of phrases when it comes to being hit with a baseball — ”don’t rub it” and “we got ice” are probably the two most frequently used.
Both are funny and trite when it’s not you being pegged with a hard ball.
No matter the level — Little League, high school, college and even the pros — the position of baseball pitcher is the one most fraught with potential danger. The distance between home plate and the mound — whether the 35-foot distance of Little League Minors or the traditional 60 feet, 6 inches, the distance gets mighty short, mighty quick on a comebacker to the mound or a drive right back up the middle.
Logan Cornejo found that out the hard way in the District 52 Little League Minors Superbowl title game, which pitted Cornejo’s San Mateo American against Belmont-Redwood Shores. He’ll carry the battle scars of a championship win for the next few days and he should wear them as a badge of courage.
Coming in to pitch to start the top of the fifth inning with SMA leading 14-8, it took only four pitches before Cornejo found himself turtling on the backside of the mound after a hot shot off the bat of Jaxon Cagle caught Cornejo on the wrist and ricocheted to the shortstop, who had no play at first.
But the concern turned to Cornejo, who cradled his right wrist. With SMA coaches checking on him, Cornejo sat up and rotated his wrist several times to make sure everything was in order. He eventually stood up, got back on the pitching slab, made a couple of practice pitches and said he was good to go.
Three batters later, BRS’s Ethan Shim sent a hard comebacker off Cornejo’s shins, deflecting the ball into right field.
Credit to Cornejo — he wore it like a champ. I could see him grit his teeth and prepare for the next batter, who he struck out. But after back-to-back walks, it was clear Cornejo’s leg was bothering him and, instead of subjecting him to any more potential damage, he was lifted for Frankie Amoroso, who would strike out four of the seven batters he faced to close out a 14-11 win.
Who says baseball isn’t a contact sport?
Even after 20-something years covering District 52 Little League Baseball, I can still take pleasure in even the most tiny of surprises.
I’ve been to several of the Little League fields that comprise District 52, but had never been to the Menlo-Atherton field at Holbrook-Palmer Park until Tuesday night’s Minor Superbowl title game.
I have to say, I was impressed with the facility that was the culmination of a field renovation project in 2015.
Unlike many facilities that simply have stands of bleachers on either side of home plate, the M-A field, officially played at Homer Field at Willie Mays Park, has covered, amphitheater-style, seat-back seating. Easily the most comfortable spectator seating almost anywhere on the Peninsula. There isn’t a lot of it, but it’s plush, comparatively speaking.
Adding to the ambiance is the old-timey feel to the structure built over the seating. To me, it evokes memories of speeded up film footage of 1910s baseball — a time when the baseball pants were pulled high, spikes were sharp and games were played at places like Ebbets Field, Shibe Park or Seal Stadium. Three parks I’ve only seen in grainy, black-and-white photos, but just the architecture and materials used by M-ALL gives it a true baseball vibe.
The field itself is really nice also, with infield dirt that is actually ash-based baseball dirt — the kind of stuff you find at high-end ball fields.
While it would be great to see more District 52 all-star tournaments hosted by M-A, Holbrook-Palmer Park has very little parking near the field and everything is a tight squeeze. Add in the fact there was only one field at the park and hosting anything larger than the district’s Superbowl tournament would become an unwieldy endeavor because while M-ALL has another field at Burgess Park, it’s tough holding a large tournament at two different sites.
But it would be nice to see the M-A facilities put into the District 52 all-star rotation a little more frequently.