Youth baseball teams from across the Bay Area will get well acquainted with Watsonville’s Franich Park over the next week.
The local baseball diamond, McElroy Field, is the site of the PONY NorCal Coast Regional tournament, the first stage of a possible journey to the PONY International World Series in Washington, Pa.
Ten teams ranging from South San Francisco to Pacific Grove will compete in the double-elimination tournament, but only three will advance to the Super Regional at the Shoreline Athletic Field in Mountain View.
Santa Cruz is the defending Coast Regional champion, and will begin its title defense on Saturday at 2 p.m. against South San Francisco.
Traditionally, Santa Clara, Morgan Hill, Campbell and South San Francisco played in their own regional tournament, but the Coast and Central sections were mashed into one 10-team regional this year, loading the bracket with talent from all over the Bay Area.
Santa Clara won last year’s Central Regional title to advance to the Super Regional round, but Campbell, the third-place finisher of the Central Regional, won the Super Regional tournament to advance to the West Zone tournament with runner-up Santa Cruz.
Host Watsonville got off to a shaky start on Tuesday night, losing to Santa Clara, 19-2.
It will try to bounce back on Sunday at 9 a.m. against an opponent still to be determined.
Toro, a team out of Salinas, won the tournament’s opening game on Monday. It beat Morgan Hill, 11-2, and played Campbell on Thursday — the results of that game were not known before print.
Mid-County, a team representing the Aptos, Soquel and Live Oak area, will play red-hot Santa Clara on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
Pacific Grove and Monterey will continue the tournament today at 5 p.m.
The championship game is set for July 14 at 4 p.m.
If needed, a winner-take-all final is set for 12:30 p.m. on July 15.
Watsonville has not reached the Super Regional round at the 14-year-old level since 2013, when a star-studded group won the Coast Regional title and fell just a couple wins short of the Super Regional championship game.
Since then, Toro and Santa Cruz have dominated the Coast Regional tournament. Toro won in 2014 and 2016, while Santa Cruz won in 2015 and last season.