Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Bolts Blast Off at PGF 12U Premier Finals (8/4/19)

The Birmingham Thunderbolts beat Power Surge-Berndes, 14-4, to win the PGF 12U Premier nationals championship on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

No one has been able to hit a home run over the fence, including the PGF High School All-Americans, at any of the PGF national championship games the past two weeks at Deanna Manning Stadium at Bille Barber Park in Irvine, CA, where the fences are back at the international distance of 220 feet.

Following back-to-back walks to start the game, Shelby McKenzie connected on one deep over the center-field wall for a three-run bomb to help the Birmingham Thunderbolts defeat Power Surge-Berndes, 14-4, in the PGF 12U Premier national title game on Sunday.

McKenzie’s home run was just the beginning for the Thunderbolts, who added two more runs in the inning thanks to an RBI double from Kiesheinna Titi that sent Julianna Nieves. Graiden Haas ran for Titi and scored on a passed ball in an inning where Power Surge used three pitchers.

“We just had so much hype and energy,” McKenzie said. “I told my teammates that we needed to score some more because it is never enough.”

The five-run first inning was more than enough for McKenzie, who also threw six innings for the Thunderbolts to get the win.

The scoring parade continued in the second inning thanks to a two-run single by Mari Hubbard that sent Jasmine Green and Brantlee Wortham home.

Green, who scored on McKenzie’s home run in the first inning, scored for the third time in the fourth inning, once again off the bat of McKenzie with an RBI double to left field for her fourth run batted in.

“She is going to have a down game every once in awhile,” Thunderbolts coach Andrew Burns quipped, referring to McKenzie’s five-RBI game over Impact Gold on Saturday. “She’s trendmous. There is no better bat than her in 12U. Every time we needed her, she’s been there.”

Power Surge chipped away in the first inning with an RBI double from Sofia Mujica, who scored on an infield single off the bat of Tamara Carranza.

Power Surge added their final two runs in the fourth inning with a single from Peanut Garcia. An infield error off the bat of Michelle Cervantes sent runner Presley Barraza home.

McKenzie kept Power Surge off scoreboard the rest of the way.

“I knew the Thunderbolts were on a run,” Power Surge coach Scott Berndes said. “When you get in the loser’s bracket, you build confidence and they had it. I thought we played really nervous to start with the walks that killed us. We didn’t look like a championship team in the beginning.”

The Thunderbolts finally put the nail in the coffin in the top of the seventh inning with a five-run inning, including a two-run double from Wortham that sent Green home for the fifth time of the game.

Mujica went 2 for 4 with an RBI double, Carranza went 2 for 3 with an RBI and Garcia threw 3.2 innings in two appearances in the circle for Power Surge, which made five pitching changes.

“We only lost four games this season,” Berndes said. “Now it’s five. We had a great year. I could compare this team to two other National Championship teams that I’ve had. This team is right there with them.”

Green went 2 for 3 with five runs, Wortham went 2 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs, McKenzie went 2 for 4 with a three-run home run and an RBI double. Titi went 2 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs, Hughes went 2 for 4 with an RBI double for the Thunderbolts, which will take some National Championship hardware back to Alabama.

“This feels amazing,” McKenzie said. “I’m so proud of the girls. We really deserved this.”

In the PGF 10U Premier national championship game:

Corona Angels-McCullough 3, So Cal Choppers-Franco 2: With runners in scoring position and one out, Jordin Washington slapped the ball right over the shortstop to send Georgia Rickenbacker home to give the Corona Angels the nine-inning victory over the Choppers to capture the PGF 10U national title.

With the International Tie-breaker in play, Rickenbacker was placed at second base. The Choppers intentionally walked Charlotte Baum and following a sacrifice bunt from Madison Cardona to move the runners, the stage was set for Washington.

“All I was thinking was to put the ball in play,” Washington said. “I just needed one to score. I immediately thought ‘We won!”

Shirley Avacedo went 1 for 4 with an RBI, Julianna Franco threw 8.1 innings, while striking out seven, and Layla Murphy drove in a run for the Choppers.

“That is a tough team to beat,” Choppers coach Christian Franco said. “We go back and forth with them and they got us today. They played well and they executed. We fell into the losers bracket and had to win three games to get here. Our ace pitcher basically pitched five games. She gave everything she had today.”

Washington went 2 for 5 with the championship-winning RBI, Breeya De La Riva went 1 for 4 with an RBI and Baum went 1 for 3, including the game-tying RBI triple in the sixth.

“Charlotte has been working her butt off,” Corona Angels coach Lydell McCullough said. “She deserved that hit and I’m so proud of her as well as the whole. I’m just so proud of them.”

Malaya Majam-Finch, the niece of Jennie Finch, went 1 for 1 with three walks, while striking out nine on two hits in nine innings of work for the newly-minted national champions.

“This feels great,” Majam-Finch said. “All the hard work we put in during the year finally paid off and we are so happy.”



SUNDAY, AUG. 4, 2019


Tennessee Mojo 04-Fisher 4, Arizona Storm-Appel 2


OC Batbusters-Shockey 5, Athletics-Mercado/Tidd 4 (8 innings)


Birmingham Thunderbolts 06 14, Power Surge-Berndes 4


Impact Gold National 07-Smith 6, Georgia Impact-Sullivan 0


Corona Angels-McCullough 3, So Cal Choppers-Franco 2 (8 innings)

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