May 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Ryan Lemmon Showcase accomplishes goals and plans for next year’s event under way

Aidan Russell from Portola (left) played for the Pacific Coast League against the Empire League, which included former Little League teammate Tyler Tran from Pacifica. (Photo courtesy Portola baseball)

ANALYSIS

Officials with the Ryan Lemmon Showcase were determined to make this year’s event happen after they were forced to cancel last year’s tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Guy Lemmon, president of the foundation and his colleague Dick Owens, the tournament director, decided they needed to go ahead with the event, scaled down a bit from previous years, but still featuring two games Friday night and two games Saturday.

Owens said officials had no other choice than to hold the four games on the same weekend as the CIF finals at Blair Field and Cal State Fullerton. Many players had other commitments after last weekend. La Habra was playing in the CIF title game, so the Highlanders players didn’t compete for the Freeway League in the showcase.

Even though so much was happening last weekend, including the finals for the CIF basketball regionals, Owens said the games were “well attended” and players and parents enjoyed them.

“We had eight leagues and 170 players involved,” he said.

For the record, there were a couple walk-off wins, the PCL defeated the Empire League 2-1 and the South Coast League topped the Century League 2-1.

“The kids went crazy like it was the World Series,” Owens said of the reaction of the PCL players after the PCL-Empire League game.

In other games, the Freeway League beat the Orange League 12-5 and the Sunset League got past the Golden West League 13-2.

The scores of the games weren’t that important.

What was important is that this year’s group of high school seniors got to team up with their teammates and players from their league in one last game.

“It was so neat to see the kids play the games one last time,” said Owens, adding that there were plenty of smiles as players got together after the games to share some stories.

Aidan Russell from Portola and Tyler Tran from Pacifica must have had some stories to share. Russell, who played for the Pacific Coast League, and Tran, who played for the Empire League, used to play Little League baseball together.

Also on Friday, new Northwood coach Doug Euper was in the same dugout, re-united with players he used to coach on the youth level.

The foundation also honored Chris Ashbach, long-time Mission Viejo coach who announced last week he is retiring and long-time coach Bob Zamora, former Capo Valley coach who has been involved in high school baseball for 50 years. And there were home run hitting contests as well.

“It was a fun event, and all the boys had a great time,” said CdM Coach Kevin McCaffrey, one of the coaches for the Sunset League.

“Dick and Guy do such an amazing job putting on these events through the Ryan Lemmon Foundation. They are all about giving back to the athletic community. The Ryan Lemmon Foundation events are first class, and we really appreciate all of their hard work.” 

Owens and Lemmon are already looking forward to next year. With the return to a normal CIF schedule, the showcase can be held during its traditional first week of June. It’s planned for June 3, 4, and 5 and will once again be at Ryan Lemmon Stadium, a venue that Owens and Lemmon found to be a more suitable setting for the games than the much larger Orange County Great Park Stadium.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com