END OF THE ROAD: Despite loss, Brawley takes pride in historic season
Brawley Juniors Little League starter Dylan Reina delivers against Mission Trails in the loser's bracket semifinal of the Sub-Division III Southern California Tournament in Running Springs on Tuesday. Brawley won, 12-5, to advance to the championship game Wednesday. They lost, 20-6, to Trabuco Canyon. (MARIO RENTERIA PHOTO / July 26, 2013)
A week ago they seemed poised to cut a clean swath through the competition, as they destroyed two-time champion Fontana, 17-5, in six innings. On Monday, they fell into the loser’s bracket after a 16-6 loss to Trabuco Canyon of Orange County, the only team to have beaten the Brawley Juniors in this summer’s All-Star tournament.
Not to be deterred, the Northend team bounced back to crush Mission Trails, 12-5, in Tuesday’s semifinal, only to find that their opponent in the title game would be none other than Trabuco Canyon. Unfortunately, Brawley lost yet again by a score of 20-6.
“Trabuco Canyon was a very strong opponent,” said Brawley manager Fred Grijalva. “They were well-coached, very disciplined. It wasn’t a matter of (Brawley) making errors — it’s just that the other team was a better team.
“As far as our group goes,” he added, “we just came up short. I’m very proud of what they accomplished. They played their hearts out, left everything on the field, and that’s all you can ask for.”
The Juniors failed to qualify for a Little League World Series berth and while the sting of defeat may continue to linger, they have reason to hold their heads high — earlier this month, they claimed the Section 7 championship in San Diego. It had been 21 years since the last time a Brawley team held that title.
“It was a good experience,” said Grijalva, “probably something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. I know I will.”
Most of Grijalva’s players, who vary between the ages of 13 and 14, will be entering high school at summer’s end and will therefore be participating in different sports. Grijalva’s own son and catcher, A.J., will begin his inaugural Hell Week this August.
“In regards to coaching and myself, I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” said Grijalva. “Now that my son’s starting high school, I want to watch him, but the door’s always open.”
The Brawley Juniors would like to thank the Imperial Valley Press for its coverage, as well as the Imperial Valley as a whole for both financial and moral support.