The Rockies captured the Mustang World Series by playing six innings without errors against the Cubs, defeating them 5-2 on May 31 at the Palisades Recreation Center.
Head coach Ollie Dunn credited the victory to the players and parents, noting “We spend a lot of time together in only a few months and it takes work from everyone to create a good environment for the kids to succeed and have fun.
“Our little Rockies baseball family was the best I have been around – and we are all so sad it is over!” said Dunn, who since 2018 has served as the assistant coach on two Pinto teams, two Mustang teams, a Bronco and a Pony team in the Pacific Palisades Baseball Association.
The father of two sons, Sammy and Marlon, Dunn was scheduled to step into his first head coaching position for his older son’s Bronco team in 2020 – but the season was cancelled by Covid.
This year, he was slotted into two head coaching positions, on the Pali Black Pony team (ages 13-14) and the Rockies Mustangs (ages 9-10). His Pali Black team lost 10-1 in the playoff final to Pali Red, but his Rockies prevailed 4-2.
Overall, this season, the Rockies had 14 wins and 6 losses. The Red Sox were their toughest opponent during the regular season, beating them twice 10-2 and 12-2. “They had our number,” Coach Dunn said, adding, “I’m happy somebody got to them in the playoffs.”
The Rockies clinched the title with four playoff victories. Will Reierson started all four games, “and pitched beautifully,” Dunn said. “Perrish McGinn came in for relief in all four games and was just as good. Marlon Dunn closed the game on the mound in the first three playoff games and played catcher every inning other than those three innings he pitched.”
According to Dunn, one of the biggest challenges for PPBA teams is pitching. “At this level, pitching and catching are always difficult to find,” he said. “We had a team that I knew had a few kids who could be effective pitchers, but we didn’t have a dominant pitcher.
“I tried to use that as a positive,” Dunn said, “The kids would have to buy into the fact that we would have to win as a team.”
A PPBA coach had once told this editor that the most successful teams at the end of the season are the ones that develop all players, defensively and up at the plate. Dunn was asked about that comment and said, “Yes, I agree with that one hundred percent.
“The teams that win are the ones who develop players as the season goes along,” he said. “Developing their skills can be difficult in such a short time, but building up their confidence and making them feel comfortable goes a long way.
“Our coaches were big on the mantra that aggressive mistakes are okay,” Dunn said. “We lost a few games early in the year by throwing the ball all over the field but by the end of the year the kids weren’t afraid of making mistakes AND they were able to execute on defense.
“We took great pride in the bottom of order sparking come-from-behind rallies in three out of the four playoff games,” he said, praising his entire team: Dunn, Ethan Montminy, McGinn, Zack Emmanuel, Reierson, Tyler Racanelli, Max Binder, Jackson Hoek, River Wang, Elliot Laffer, Beckett Misher and Hunter Sheldon.
Dunn, a Santa Monica resident, said he and his team are really excited to ride on the PPBA float in the 4th of July parade.
“I’ll be so excited to see these kids next year around the PPBA fields,” Dunn said. “It is really rewarding having been part of a season we will never forget.”
The coach added, “A special thanks to my wife Carrie for all her support. I was literally married to baseball from February until June.”
Other PPBA News:
The Rockies were added as a PPBA franchise in the Pinto and Mustang divisions when the league expanded in 2021. To accommodate players, a Shetland division was added for younger kids, and there were four Pony teams this year. Pony players also play “on the road” against teams from Cheviot Hills, Santa Monica and West L.A.
In the SHETLAND division, under Coach Tyler Atwood, the Dodgers prevailed over the Red Sox 21-14. This was a first year for this division and featured mostly six-year-olds.
The Tiger PINTOS (ages 7-8), under coach Sara Prokop, beat the Royals 9-8 to take that World Series title.
The Rockies MUSTANGS (ages 9-10), under Ollie Dunn, beat the top-seeded Cubs.
In the BRONCO division (ages 11-12), it was also a Tiger win for that top-seeded team coached by Matt Badt. The Tigers beat the Cubs 4-2.
In the PONY division (ages 13-14), the Pali Black team lost 10-1 in the final to Pali Red.
(Editor’s note: Before the season starts, the PPBA needs people/businesses to sponsor teams, which Circling the News did for the first time this year. Next spring consider sponsoring a team – there’s no downside – and you might have a World Series winner, too!)