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SCV Dodger Day a cool one at the stadium

More than 1,000 locals have fun even though Dodgers lose game

Posted: May 16, 2011 12:14 a.m.
Updated: May 16, 2011 12:14 a.m.
Little Ladiez -- from left, Molly J. Ryan, Hayley Smith, Lindsay Ryan and Kelsey Lee Smith, all from Santa Clarita -- won the audition to sing at SCV Dodger Day at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. Little Ladiez -- from left, Molly J. Ryan, Hayley Smith, Lindsay Ryan and Kelsey Lee Smith, all from Santa Clarita -- won the audition to sing at SCV Dodger Day at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.
Little Ladiez -- from left, Molly J. Ryan, Hayley Smith, Lindsay Ryan and Kelsey Lee Smith, all from Santa Clarita -- won the audition to sing at SCV Dodger Day at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.
ACTION chief Cary Quashen winds up to throw the ceremonial first pitch to catcher Jim Ventress of the Boys & Girls Club on SCV Dodger Day at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, ACTION chief Cary Quashen winds up to throw the ceremonial first pitch to catcher Jim Ventress of the Boys & Girls Club on SCV Dodger Day at Dodger Stadium on Saturday,
ACTION chief Cary Quashen winds up to throw the ceremonial first pitch to catcher Jim Ventress of the Boys & Girls Club on SCV Dodger Day at Dodger Stadium on Saturday,
Future broadcasters Ryan Downing (left) and Ryan Vasquez (right) loudly announce "It's time for Dodger baseball!" over the stadium P.A. to start the game at Dodger Stadium on SCV Dodger Day Saturday. Future broadcasters Ryan Downing (left) and Ryan Vasquez (right) loudly announce "It's time for Dodger baseball!" over the stadium P.A. to start the game at Dodger Stadium on SCV Dodger Day Saturday.
Future broadcasters Ryan Downing (left) and Ryan Vasquez (right) loudly announce "It's time for Dodger baseball!" over the stadium P.A. to start the game at Dodger Stadium on SCV Dodger Day Saturday.
Members of the L.A. County Sheriff's Explorer Group based in Santa Clarita served as the color guard for SCV Dodger Day at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. Flag bearers Trevor Kirk (left) and Mike Thompson (center) are drill instructors, while Elizabeth Casique (right) is a drill instructor trainee. Members of the L.A. County Sheriff's Explorer Group based in Santa Clarita served as the color guard for SCV Dodger Day at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. Flag bearers Trevor Kirk (left) and Mike Thompson (center) are drill instructors, while Elizabeth Casique (right) is a drill instructor trainee.
Members of the L.A. County Sheriff's Explorer Group based in Santa Clarita served as the color guard for SCV Dodger Day at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. Flag bearers Trevor Kirk (left) and Mike Thompson (center) are drill instructors, while Elizabeth Casique (right) is a drill instructor trainee.
Hart Baseball & Softball was among the Youth Parade groups introduced at Dodger Stadium at SCV Dodger Day pre-game ceremonies on Saturday. Hart Baseball & Softball was among the Youth Parade groups introduced at Dodger Stadium at SCV Dodger Day pre-game ceremonies on Saturday.
Hart Baseball & Softball was among the Youth Parade groups introduced at Dodger Stadium at SCV Dodger Day pre-game ceremonies on Saturday.
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More than 1,000 Santa Clarita Valley residents refused to let overcast skies and the Dodgers' frustrating one-hit, one-run loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks put a damper on the 34th annual SCV Dodger Day at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.

Local families, friends, co-workers, classmates and club members alike shared a cool day at the ballpark with about 29,000 other fans that helped the Dodgers salute the SCV.

About 15 minutes before the game's scheduled start at 4 p.m., the Dodgers' public address announcer introduced the SCV Youth Parade. Lining up on the center field warning track were dozens of young people and other representatives of local nonprofit groups, schools and community businesses.

They included ACTION Family Counseling; Boys & Girls Club of the SCV; city of Santa Clarita Youth Sports; Hart Baseball and Softball; Helmers, Santa Clarita, Stevenson Ranch and Valencia Valley elementary schools; Northpark and South Valley churches, and Stepping Stone Preschool.

Many of the parade participants got there by selling specially discounted advance tickets. Any organization or individual that bought more than 25 tickets could donate rebates ranging from $3 to $10 to a favorite SCV nonprofit group or school.

The color guard was presented by members of the L.A. County Sheriff's Explorer Group based Santa Clarita. Flag bearers Trevor Kirk and Mike Thompson are drill instructors, while Elizabeth Casique is a drill instructor trainee.

Teen vocal quartet the Little Ladiez delivered a harmonious a cappella version of the National Anthem and earned a resounding ovation. Lindsay Ryan, Kelsey Lee Smith, Molly J. Ryan and Hayley Smith returned during the 7th inning stretch to sing "God Bless America."

All talented showbiz kids ages 14 and 15 from Stevenson Ranch (the Ryan sisters) and Canyon Country (the Smith sisters), the girls have sung and performed together the past four years, and appear frequently at SCV community events.

While they have performed the National Anthem at several other civic and professional sports events, Saturday marked their first appearance at Dodger Stadium.

The foursome's audition DVD was among those the SCV Dodger Day Committee forwarded to the Dodgers community relations crew for the final choice. Little Ladiez got the nod not only to sing "The Star Spangled Banner" to open the game, but also "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch.

"Santa Clarita's our hometown, where we met, where we live, where we do all the stuff we do together, and it's cool to come to such a great venue like Dodger Stadium and represent Awesometown!" Molly J. Ryan said later in the game.

"Omigosh, it was so exciting to have all the people cheering and screaming -- it was unbelievable," Lindsay Ryan said. "We just loved being out there. The adrenaline was pumping and everyone was supporting us."

"It was great to sing for all these Dodger fans and have a good time," Kelsey Smith said.

As her sister Hayley began to speak, the stadium crowd roared in reaction to the Dodgers' 9th inning rally. "The best thing for me was just being able to experience it -- sitting here and watching the game and everything going on, the crowd going crazy like it is right now," she said. "It was great singing the National Anthem, but also getting to be one of the fans, too."

Dodger Day committee officials scored a little face time on the giant Dodger Vision screens during the pre-game salute to the SCV, too. The team announcer name-checked Pat Downing, city of Santa Clarita Arts & Events officer and primary Dodger Day coordinator; Paula Kraskian from the city's Recreation Division; Dia Vasquez of Helmers Elementary; Lila Littlejohn of The Signal; and Sharon Bronson of KHTS-AM 1220.

The Dodger Day first-pitch squad included Cary Quashen of ACTION, who took the mound as pitcher, while Jim Ventress, SCV Boys & Girls Club chief professional officer, got behind the plate to catch. Canyon Country Little League skipper Mario Olvera was the coach, and longtime local Dodger fan Margie Lombardi officiated as umpire.

"That was my first time," Ventress said later in the game, his Dodgers cap still turned around backward, catcher-style. "I've been on the field before, but to actually have everybody in the stadium looking at you when you have to catch the ball -- that's a little different." He laughed.

"During the week I didn't think too much about it, but when I woke up this morning, it hit me," he said. "I should have called Cary and practiced a little, but we both got real busy and it never happened. On the drive to Dodger Stadium I kept telling myself, ‘Don't drop the ball, whatever you do!'

"We'd both been feeling the pressure," Ventress said. "Cary kept saying, ‘I have to throw a good pitch.' Then I'd say, ‘And I have to catch it!'

"But it worked out okay. (Cary) threw a good pitch, fortunately right around the strike zone," Ventress said. "It was a little outside, but I was able to snatch it and catch it. When I gave him the ball afterward, we both went, ‘Whew! Glad that's over with!' (laughs). We were both very relieved."

To wrap up the pre-game SCV salute, future broadcasters Ryan Downing and Ryan Vasquez loudly announced, "It's time for Dodger baseball!" over the stadium P.A., and other "Kids on the Field" winners Brandon Ritter, Brett Borden, Mikey Rogozik and Aidan Winslow ran the bases. When the field was cleared of visitors, the Dodgers-Diamondbacks duel began.

In the second of L.A.'s three-game weekend series hosting Arizona, pitcher Chad Billingsley gave up only one hit in eight innings, a double by Stephen Drew in the second. A blown pickoff play between Billingsley and shortstop Jamie Carroll was enough for the D-backs to get the runner home. The Dodgers scored four hits, but Arizona held on to win 1-0, in a game lasting just two and a half hours.

Arizona hurler Josh Collmenter got the shutout and his record is 2-0. Billingsley took a tough loss; his record now stands at 2-3.

Saturday was the first time in Dodger history the team lost a game in which they gave up just one hit.

In the Dodgers clubhouse after Saturday's game, manager Don Mattingly appeared embarrassed: "That run being the difference -- you never think about that being the difference at that point. But ... you obviously can't expect to win if you don't score any runs. The pitching was tremendous tonight."

Meanwhile, Downing was fielding post-game questions from a Signal reporter, confirming SCV Dodger Day's numbers were down this year, after a spike in 2010.

"We (sold) about 1,200 tickets and last year about 1,700," he said. "We had about 11 groups (in the Youth Parade), down from 16 to 20 last year. It's a sluggish economy, and there are some changes going on with the Dodgers, so I think that made some people hesitant to buy tickets."

While the final tally wasn't available by press time, Downing ballparked this year's ticket proceeds at $6,000-$7,000 for the participating nonprofit groups. That's roughly what the take was in 2009.

"I think we still hit a home run," he said. "It was great being at Dodger Stadium, sitting there next to your neighbors, watching the game. It's a shame the Dodgers didn't win, but some things you can't control. Just wait till next year."

 

 

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