Baseball players ages 13 to 14 will gather again in Washington County starting August 12 for the DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series.
Ten teams, including international teams from Asia Pacific to Europe, will battle it out for the World Championship in a double-elimination tournament at Lew Hayes PONY Field, one of western Pennsylvania’s most historic ballparks, just minutes from Washington’s business district. The championship game will be played on August 17.
“This is a special event and Lew Hays PONY Field is a special field,” said Nate Voytek, World Series Chairman and President of World Series Tournaments Inc. “We’re proud of how the event has grown over the last five to 10 years in terms of sponsors and media coverage of the event, but we wouldn’t be where we’ve been without the volunteers of the last 30 to 40 years,” he said.
The bracket includes teams from four international zones: Guaynabo, Puerto Rico (champion of the Caribbean zone); London, United Kingdom (European Zone Champion); Monterrey, Mexico (Mexico Zone Champion); and Chinese Taipei (Asia-Pacific Zone Champion). Each zone will hold a tournament to determine the PONY League World Series qualifiers.
Chinese Taipei has won the World Series four times in the last six tournaments, while American teams have won three of the last seven.
Six teams will represent the United States, including perennial contenders and host Washington County. The rest of the home teams include Bay County, Michigan (North Zone champion); Palmview, Texas (Southern Zone Champions); and Johnstown, Pennsylvania (Host Area Champion). The East Zone champion will be crowned on August 6, and the West Zone will follow on August 7.
DICK’S Sporting Goods will host a Fan Fest from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, in Washington, D.C., to kick off a week of strong action for the public. Fan activities include meeting participating teams, baseball skills challenges and more.
Friday, August 12th is when the fun begins on the baseball diamond. From 11 am to 12:15 pm, the home run derby and the fast runner skills competition will give you a preview of the talented players each team has to offer. The official game will start at 5:30 PM in the 1st game between the East and West Zone Champions. Game 2 is at 8 p.m.
Games 3, 4 and 5 will be played on the afternoon and evening of Saturday, August 13. That morning is the PONY League Champions League game at 10am.
In the year Established in 2009, the Champions League game gives all children, regardless of special needs, the opportunity to play the game. According to the PONY League, the goal is to “create an environment that promotes participants’ self-confidence, physical activity, and fosters team and community spirit.”
“This event will probably have more of an impact on[the competitors]than anything else they may experience during the week,” Voytek said. “It’s an opportunity for them to know that they are lucky. Giving Champions League players the chance to play and get on the pitch is something special.
Watching a game with kids who may not always have the opportunity to play one of America’s most beloved pastimes is one of the many joys of the weekly baseball celebration.
The spectacular championship not only gives local and international baseball fans a chance to see the best young talent from around the world, but also gives visitors a taste of what the Washington County area has to offer.
“We welcome the DICK’S Sporting Goods PONY League World Series to Washington County,” said Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency President Jeff M. Kotula.
As the birthplace of PONY League baseball, Washington has hosted the championship since its inception in 1952, consecutively since 1984.
Last year, Brownsville, Texas (South Zone Champions) defeated Youngstown, Ohio (Host Area Champions) in the championship game, 11-10 in eight innings. It was a smaller-than-usual eight-team bracket due to the Covid ban that prevents foreign teams from traveling to the US. The outbreak led to the cancellation of the 2020 PONY World Series.
“The event was great last year, but the foreign teams are what make it even more special,” Voytek said. “They tend to play the game a little differently and that gets the fans to come out and watch the game.”
Starting on Saturday 13th August, there will be two theme nights for Mascot Night. The lunches arrive at 3pm to meet fans.
On Tuesday, August 16, all active and retired veterans and first responders get in free for Military and First Responders Night.
The week opens with DICK’S Sporting Goods Championship Night, which will feature games 17 and 18 (if applicable) of the tournament. The main event – the PONY League World Series Championship Game – starts at 7 pm
Tickets can be purchased in person at the Lew Hayes PONY Field field gates or online at the tournament website, plws.org. Daily tickets ($6 for adults and $4 for youth under 14) and weekly tickets ($25 for adults and $15 for youth) are available.
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