Malibu Little Leaguers make great run in Cooperstown Tournament

Malibu Beach Dogs team members Max Gordon, Max Alexander, Noah Dark, Charlie Adamson, Louie Thrall and Lars Peterson; middle row, Jack Simons, Wyatt Loncar, Graham Knox, Wes Burton, Xander Hurley and Colter Barish; back row, Coach Jared Denham and Head Coach Daniel Denham. 

The Malibu Beach Dogs Little League team recently completed a terrific run at the famed 104-team U12 tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y., home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Comprised of 12 boys from Malibu and the surrounding area, the team was formed a year ago by David Adamson and is coached by former professional pitcher Daniel Denham. During the past year, the team has prepared for Cooperstown by playing in a variety of tournaments against some of the toughest teams in Southern California, many of which are nationally ranked. 

Fortunately, the team seems to have peaked at the right time. The Beach Dogs made a great run in Cooperstown, at one point winning six games in a row before losing a close game to the number one seed. The Beach Dogs developed a reputation for having one of the most powerful lineups in the tournament, sporting a team batting average of .447 while slugging at an incredible .825 clip. Additionally, 10 different players hit home runs during the tournament. In nine games through the tournament, the Beach Dogs slugged 31 home runs and hit more than 20 balls off the eight-foot fences. The team also almost tied a Cooperstown record when they hit four home runs in five at-bats (the record is five consecutive home runs). 

After a six-game pool play, the tournament shifted to the single elimination phase on Wednesday last week. The Beach Dogs were seeded number 33 out of 104 teams by virtue of record and total runs allowed. The team won the first elimination game 6-2 against the Concord (California) Patriots, the number 68 seed. 

Next up was the number 32 seed South Lyon (Michigan) Thunder. Despite the fact that the Thunder was a higher seed, the Beach Dogs crushed them 19-4 in five innings because of a 12-run mercy rule. The team pounded six home runs in the game. 

With that victory, the Beach Dogs earned the right to play the number one seed Olney (Maryland) Pirates. The Pirates are a nationally ranked team that dominated their round robin games, allowing only four runs in six games, while scoring more than 70 times. This would be the third consecutive game for the Beach Dogs in the sweltering New York heat, while the Pirates had yet to play by virtue of being the top seed. The Beach Dogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but then fell behind in the fourth after three home runs by the Pirates. The team rallied in the fifth with a three-run home run, but eventually fell 11-8. Olney won their next game 5-1, so the Beach Dogs scored more runs against them than they allowed against their other seven opponents. 

The tournament concluded with the presentation of rings and induction in to the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame, a huge honor for the boys. While they were disappointed that the run was over, the boys finished the tournament feeling like they could compete with anybody. All of the kids reveled in the Cooperstown experience, where they traded pins and shared baseball stories with hundreds of kids from around the country. The Beach Dogs are a group of kids who love baseball, many of whom are on a pace to play more than 100 baseball games this year. When they are not playing “official” baseball games, the boys are often together playing whiffle ball, stickball, video game baseball or just watching the MLB network. 

After a great run in Cooperstown, the Malibu Beach Dogs are looking forward to playing more tournament baseball in the coming months.