Big hitter

Phillip Brents

Thu August 28, 2014 10:09am

Park View Little League’s hallowed Blue Bombers became the first team from the San Diego region to win a Little League World Series championship title in 48 years when they recorded a dramatic 6-3 come-from-behind win over Chinese Taipei in 2009.
The team’s players and coaches became instant celebrities around the world; the team even scored a one-on-one visit with U.S. President Barack Obama.
It was the stuff of legend.
Otay Ranch High School senior Jensen Peterson will obviously cherish the once-in-a-lifetime experience. But he’s not going to let it define his life forever.
“People bring it up all the time,” he said, frowning somewhat, in reference to Park View’s magical moment in time. “It’s a great feeling — it was a great experience to go that far. But there are other sports. I want to go to college on a football scholarship.”
Peterson scored Park View’s second run in the LLWS championship game against Asia Pacific region representative Taoyuan, Taiwan. As a 12-year-old, he was a 5-foot-3, 143-pound catcher. He now stands 5-10 and weighs 215 pounds as a middle linebacker for the Mustangs.
He could hit the ball hard as a Little Leaguer; he hits opponents even harder now with his football pads. Football, it turns out, was his first love.
“I’ve played football all my life, since kindergarten,” Peterson said. “I’ve played baseball since first grade.”
The former LLWS slugger began his high school football career on the junior varsity team as a freshman and later moved up to play at the varsity level. He also plays varsity lacrosse at ORHS.
“I love the contact and intensity of lacrosse,” he said. “My friends talked about the speed of the game and its fast pace. It’s like soccer, a lot of contact.”
Peterson said his favorite memory of playing in the LLWS was staying in the dorms at the South Williamsport complex. Getting to know the international players presented a challenge, though, because of the language barrier, particularly among the Japanese and Chinese players, he said.
But baseball is baseball and a hit, home run or strikeout — adding up to a Little League World Series championship — translates the same in any language.
“It was unbelievable,” Peterson recalled. “It didn’t hit me until we won it all — we were the best team in the world!”
It took a king-size rally to accomplish the feat. Chinese Taipei led, 3-0, in the top of the third inning before the Park View all-stars began chipping away. The Blue Bombers scored one run in the bottom of the third inning on an error.
In the fourth inning, Peterson started another rally after reaching base on a miscue by the Taiwan shortstop. Teammate Nick Conlin then doubled and Seth Godfrey followed with a sacrifice fly to trim the deficit to one run. Conlin then tied the game when he scored on a wild pitch.
A two-out single by Bulla Graft put Park View up 4-3. A run-scoring double by Godfrey and an RBI single by Andy Rios plated two more runs for the Chula Vistans in the bottom of the fifth inning. The game came down to a controversial call by the umpire, Peterson recalled.
“When the umpire called ‘Strike three!’ everyone ran on the field and we were excited,” Peterson said.
The team arrived for a surprise greeting by several thousand fans at Southwestern College following its cross-country trek homeward. Peterson said it caught everyone on the team by surprise.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “We didn’t know how many people were really watching us.”
Peterson is hoping there are a lot of college scouts watching him play high school football his senior year.