Ballpark notebook at the Ray Angulo Memorial Tournament

Written by Bob on September 4th, 2016
Beaumont Coyotes' Richard Soriano beats out an infield single in a 10-2 win over Those Guys of Long Beach in the Raymond Angulo Memorial Men's Fastpitch Tournament, Saturday, at Promenade Park in Corona. Photo By BOB OTTO

Beaumont Coyotes’ Richard Soriano beats out an infield single in a 10-2 win over Those Guys of Long Beach in the Raymond Angulo Memorial Men’s Fastpitch Tournament, Saturday, at Promenade Park in Corona. Photo By BOB OTTO

CORONA, Calif. – I had never been to a fastpitch game at the Promenade Park Softball Fields in Corona until Saturday. What a great facility. Groomed infields, lush grass, back-to-back backstops for fans to walk from one game to another, plenty of shade for mom’s toting along young children, and a playground for kids bored with watching dad or grandpa play.

David Valdivia, Jr. has taken over much of running the Beaumont Coyotes from his dad, and he’s doing a great job. The young Coyotes are fresh off taking 4th in the NAFA A-Division World Series in North Mankato, Minnesota.

…Valdivia said timely hitting, “top to bottom of the order, and sometimes one then the other, and our 16 players, everybody stepped up,” said Valdivia. This was the first trip to a NAFA World Series for the Coyotes and Valdivia gave NAFA and Caswell Park a thumbs-up.

“It was a great tournament,” he said. “We definitely want to go back next year. We found out we can hang with those teams.”

…The Coyotes placed three players on the All-World team, pitcher Kurt Walker, catcher Jesse Mullins, and outfielder Yusef Davis, Jr.

…The Raymond Angulo Memorial had nine teams, two of them with strong ties. Manager Paul Castillo entered his Long Beach squad, Those Guys, while his son Kevin Castillo, managed Patricia’s Mexican Restaurant of Long Beach. In the spirit of providing two teams for the tournament, the Castillo’s split up Those Guys.”

“…I took the young guys and Cory Wertz (for pitching),” said Paul Castillo. And with Patricia’s was his son and USA National Team player, Kevin, along with Lumar Goss, a talented pitcher and hitter, and Yusef Davis, Jr., who played in his first ISC World Tournament for the New York Peligro Gremlins. And as expected they reached the winners bracket final Sunday and are a strong contender to take the championship.

Streamline right-fielder, Raul Fernandez makes a great effort diving for a low line drive, but came up just short of the catch. Fernandez, 59, and his teammates will be playing in the NAFA West World Series in Carson City, Nevada in a couple of weeks. Photo By BOB OTTO

Streamline right-fielder, Raul Fernandez makes a great effort diving for a low line drive, but came up just short of the catch. Fernandez, 59, and his teammates will be playing in the NAFA West World Series in Carson City, Nevada in a couple of weeks. Photo By BOB OTTO

Jim Flanagan of fastpitchwest was seen pitching in relief for Those Guys (making his annual cameo appearance as he likes to say), while his talented photographer wife, Maddy Flanagan, was moving from ball field to ball field taking pictures.

…Jim of Ball Park Radio, for years announced ISC World Tournament games, while Maddy was the official photographer.

…The Flanagan’s have also contributed greatly to the ASA and WBSC, with Jim and his broadcast crew covering national and international tournaments, while Maddy provided her amazing action and candid photographs of the events.

Dave Meltz was pitching for Redline and still showing that at age 66, he is one effective left-hander with his assortment of pitches – risers, drops and change-ups – and seldom at the same speed, and most often hitting the catcher’s target. He figures he’s thrown about 30 games this year and is eager to pitch in the NAFA West Masters World Series.

…At the 2016 Beaumont Coyotes 4th of July Tournament, Meltz was selected the Most Valuable Pitcher, his second such award. Here’s the amazing part: His first award was 28 years a go.

…When asked what keeps him pitching while many of his generation are playing slowpitch, Meltz said:

“I’m still trying to find a pitch I can throw in any situation that no (batter) can hit. But really, I like being around the camaraderie. You make a lot of friends in fastpitch.”

Neil Jones and his wife Ginni drove from Las Vegas for Neil to play second base and pitch for Streamline, a 55-older team. Originally from Wisconsin, Jones epitomizes love of the game. He bought a bar in Deerfield and built a ball diamond on it, and formed a men’s fastpitch league. “I called it my Field of Dreams,” said Jones 64. (More on Jones later as he will be the subject of a feature story.)

GARY HAAGSMA, pitching for Redline, was a strong presence in the circle for many years in the Inland Empire. He started pitching for his dad, John Haagsma's team, B&G Hay, and after that, rose to become one of the best ASA Class A pitchers in So. Calif. Photo By BOB OTTO

GARY HAAGSMA, pitching for Redline, was a strong presence in the circle for many years in the Inland Empire. He started pitching for his dad, John Haagsma’s team, B&G Hay, and after that, rose to become one of the best ASA Class A pitchers in So. Calif. Photo By BOB OTTO

…And driving all the way from Bakersfield was former Chino dairy farmer and pitcher, Gary Haagsma. Gary and younger brother John, Jr., were brought into the game by their father, John Haagsma, who formed a young team back in the mid- 1970s. Known as B&G Hay, the young team soon became one of the best in the Inland Empire.

…All three Haagsma’s were pitchers, rising to the ASA Class A level. When B&G folded, Gary became a much sought after pitcher, hurling for such local teams as the Riverside Angels, and Yucaipa Athletics.

…After not touching a ball for a long time and instead channeling his competitive spirit to tennis, Haagsma, 58, won his first game in the tournament, 3-1.

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