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Steve Fryer on the Lions Tournament

Anaheim Lions Tournament gets it right


You know you've thrown a pretty good party when most of your 62 guests are ready to commit to the next one.

A majority of the 62 teams playing in the Anaheim Lions Baseball Tournament will participate in next year's Lions Tournament. This year's Lions Tournament ends with the championship game Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Glover Stadium in Anaheim.

The tournament started in 1975, and for a long time was a 16-team tournament until undergoing massive expansion in recent years. Chris Pascal is tournament director. He was the baseball coach at Kennedy, the tournament's host school, for several years so he knows what coaches want from a tournament, which is fair and unfamiliar competition.

"With so many teams, it helps us make sure that teams avoid playing other teams from the leagues, or teams they've played earlier in the year," Pascal said. "One of the things that draws teams to the tournament is we don't have them playing the same teams here two years in a row."

The tournament's structure also is attractive. Each team has four games set against specific opponents at specific times and locations. After those four games, the two teams that advance to the championship game are undefeated teams who have allowed the fewest number of runs over those four games.

"Parents love it, because they can plan things when they know when and where their kids are playing," Pascal said. "The teams from out of the area love it because they can plan for Disneyland or going to the beach."

Six teams in the tournament are from Utah, three from Washington state and one each from Illinois and Nevada. Many others are from northern and central California.

Pascal will send the teams thank you notes with contracts for next year's Lions tournament. He figures 12 to 18 teams won't return for next year's Lions tournament, but around 75 percent will and will do so quickly to make sure they're in.

"We already have one team, Ayala (of Chino Hills), that's not even in this year's tournament committed to next year," Pascal said.

Word gets around when there's a good party in town.