Five World Series Championships now belong to the Tri-Valley Babe Ruth Baseball League after the 13- and 15-year-old Tri-Valley all stars defeated the best teams from around the United States to win two national titles last week in New York.
Earning a World Series Title was no easy feat for either team, but the managers of both age groups said their players’ confidence was an essential component of their success.
“Frankly, the team expected to win,” said Randy Moore, the 13s’ manager and league president.
“They were a confident group and felt like they really couldn’t be beat.”
After a close 6-4 win over a Glen Allen, Va. team in the semi-finals Friday afternoon, the Tri-Valley 13s dominated in the championship game that same night against host team Clifton Park, winning 12-0 in just five innings.
After quieting the hometown crowd with three runs in the first inning, Tri-Valley relied on a lights-out performance by starting pitcher Devin Rocha, who threw a no-hitter and earned five strikeouts.
“It was a long day,” said Moore.
“(Two games in one day) wasn’t ideal and we were pretty tired out, but I think we were hungry to win it all.”
While the championship game for the 13-year-old all stars ended early because of the 10-run mercy rule, the 15-year-old all stars went to extra innings on Saturday in a tough battle against Tri-Township, Pa.
A pitching duel between Sam Nathan and Tri-Township’s Dalton Smoot left the game scoreless until the sixth inning when Tri-Township earned the first run.
Trailing 1-0 in the seventh with two outs, and at risk of losing the championship, Tri-Valley produced the tying run with a two-strike, RBI single by Casey Soltis.
Soltis then pitched the seventh and eighth innings, shutting down the Tri-Township hitters to first send the game to extra innings and to then seal the 3-1 victory after Cameron Santos and Ryan Anderson had batted in the winning runs.
For the 15s, it was their third time competing in the World Series championship game and their second consecutive World Series Title, an unprecedented achievement for Tri-Valley.
“It’s a pretty amazing feeling,” said manager Paul Pluschkell.
“It’s a testament to the dedication of the kids, their work ethic, and their perseverance the entire season.”
The players’ experience in previous World Series was evident as they seemingly breezed through the tournament, going undefeated and outscoring their opponents 54-2. Pluschkell said that even faced with quality opponents, the players felt in control of the games.
In addition to prior World Series experience, outstanding individual performances were a vital part of the team’s dominance.
Soltis was named tournament MVP for the second year in a row and Anderson was named World Series batting champion for his .588 tournament average.
Also, star pitcher Brian Hsu displayed his prowess at the plate by earning five RBIs in Tri-Valley’s 12-0 win over Syracuse, N.Y.
The 13-year-old Tri-Valley team had its own share of notable individual achievements.
Nick Moroney, who went 9 for 19 at the plate, was named tournament MVP, and pitcher Joey Matulovich, who threw an incredible 151 pitches in Tri-Valley’s 8-4 win over Atlantic Shore, N.J., was named to the all-World Series team.
Now that the World Series is finished, Pluschkell said the primary feeling of his team is relief and relaxation after the long summer of competition.
It has been a season of unmatched success for not only the all star teams, which went undefeated in state and regional play, but also for the league itself.
Never before had two Tri-Valley teams gone to the World Series in the same year, not to mention win the championships.
“It’s a historic day for our league, especially for the 15-year-old team,” said Moore. “As the president of the league, I really tip my cap to them for everything they’ve achieved.”
To view and purchase pictures of the 15-year-old Babe Ruth World Series taken by photographer John Conti, visit his website.
To see complete results and a link to videos of the 13-year-old World Series, click here.
To see complete results and a link to videos of the 15-year-old World Series, click here.
Tri-Valley players on 13s all-World Series team:
Michael Pangelinan (all-World Series defensive team)
James Moore (all-World Series defensive team)
Tri-Valley players on 15s all-World Series team:
Cameron Santos (all-World Series defensive team)