Now that the Fourth of July has passed and the fireworks have been launched, two Lompoc Babe Ruth baseball teams are hoping for a different kind of fireworks — the ones through the bat and the ones that lead to another regional championship.
The Lompoc 13-year-old All-Stars and the 15-year-old team will travel through Highway 99 and Highway 41, respectively, to chase down the Central California title in California’s San Joaquin Valley — as the 13’s will head to Northwest Bakersfield while the 15’s will head to Reedley for their next double elimination tournament.
The 13-year-olds, the reigning District 6 champions, will venture out to Kern County and swing their bats at Sam Lynn Ballpark — a complex that houses up to 10 different baseball fields. The players will not only prepare for District 4 runner-up Hanford, but will also have to brave the projected 106 degree weather for Friday.
Assistant coach Mark Townes, however, says the 13-year-olds aren’t concerned about the fiery Central Valley heat for the weekend.
“I think they’re not thinking about the weather,” Townes said. “I think we should be alright. They’re excited to play.”
The 13’s will continue to dedicate their season to Noah Scott, their former teammate who died from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on the night of June 30. Throughout the District 6 title run, the 13-year-old All-Stars hung Scott’s Babe Ruth Lompoc Elks uniform above their dugout at George Meyer Field as their source of inspiration.
“That’s our theme: Honoring Noah,” Townes said. “Their hats will likely have Noah’s name. They’ll have the jersey with them, too. He’s our 14th player.”
A Lompoc victory puts the blue and white team in the Saturday 7 p.m. winner’s bracket contest against the victor of the Madera (District 2 champion) and the host team Northwest Bakersfield contest. A loss means Lompoc must play at 1 p.m. on Saturday against the Madera/Northwest Bakersfield loser.
The 15’s will head to the “Fruit Basket of the World” and play at Reedley High’s baseball field, where they will face the District 4 No. 1 team Hanford on Friday at 4 p.m — with temperatures expecting to reach 105 degrees.
“We played against Hanford in both the 13 and 14-year-old tournaments. They’re a solid team. They’re usually in the mix for the title every year,” manager Tommy Silva said.
A victory over Hanford places Lompoc against the winner of the Madera/Reedley contest set for 7 p.m. on Saturday. A loss for Lompoc means they play at 1 p.m. against one of the aforementioned teams.
Like the 13’s, the 15-year-olds will also plan to carry the memory of Scott with them.
“We wore orange ribbons throughout the season. Recently, we received hats with “Team Noah” emblazoned in orange. The guys are excited to wear them,” Silva said.
The one team Silva and Lompoc would love to face, though, is the host team and the one armed with multiple titles: The Reedley 15-year-olds. The green and white clad team has won district and state Babe Ruth titles at the 13 and 14-year-old level. This group of baseball players also won district championships and accomplished state runs at the Little League level.
Silva and his team have a bitter taste in their mouth from the last time they faced Reedley two years ago at George Meyer Field as 13-year-olds.
“They came to our city and made a big scene in front of us,” Silva said of that loss to Reedley. “Now we want to beat them. They’re the team everyone wants to beat. Our guys are anxious to play them.”