(Aug. 16, 2019) The Junior Berlin Little League All-Star team finished the season fourth overall out of 1,500 U.S. squads.
The Junior Berlin Little League All-Star team headed to Taylor, Michigan last week for the World Series. The festivities began with the opening ceremony on Saturday.
Berlin – district, state and regional champions – lost its first game to the South East Regional championship team from Florida on Sunday, 15-2.
“It did not go the way we wanted it to go,” Head Coach Kris Mandley said. “I’ll chalk that up to nerves and we played a good team in Florida. They were a solid-hitting team [and] pitching they were good. We ended up losing 15-2 but the kids were still in awe of being here.
“They’re [still] all excited,” Mandley said. “I think their nerves are gone and it’s just another baseball game, another step in our journey. We can still play in the U.S. championship and possibly go to the World Series championship. I’ve got a lot of faith and pride in these kids and I think they’re ready to do some damage.”
Berlin’s next game was against the South West Regional championship team from Oklahoma, on Tuesday. Berlin won 19-3 in four innings.
“That game was Berlin baseball at its finest,” Mandley said. “We made a statement with that win. Go Berlin go!”
The Berlin squad played Michigan on Wednesday and ended their World Series tournament with a loss, 5-1.
“It was a tough loss,” Mandley said. “We hit the ball but Michigan played us well … a couple of errors on our part is what gave them the momentum to pull out the win.
“What an amazing journey this has been … I loved coaching all these boys and would do it all over again if I was given the chance … but wouldn’t change a thing about this ride,” he said.
The 8-10 Berlin All-Star team got off to a rough start in its regional tournament held in Cranston, New Jersey, as the boys fell to a team from New Jersey, 2-0, Sunday, then 14-4 to Pennsylvania’s representative last Monday and 13-0 to a squad from New York, last Wednesday.
The Berlin squad finished the tournament with a win over the regional representative from Delaware last Thursday, 5-2.
“It was a good way to go out of the tournament,” Head Coach Ron Calloway said. “We probably played one of the best games, if not the best game at the end of the season there. Delaware is one of the stronger teams in the tournament.
“We had a couple games there ... that the boys just weren’t playing the type of baseball that got us there,” Calloway said. “It took us a couple games to regain our confidence after that first lost, but I was glad to see them do that.
Calloway said for 9- and 10-year-old boys, that last game “wasn’t playing for anything except respect and pride.” “They could have thrown in the towel, but they went out there and played the best game of the season, so it was a real good way to end the tournament,” he said of the district and state champions.
During the regional tournament, each team was guaranteed four games. After losing three games, they were out of the running for the championship, but nonetheless, the Berlin boys persevered.
“You don’t know how far you’re going to go until you play the games,” Calloway said. “I can’t say enough from the three- to four-day-a-week practices all summer, just the dedication that they put in for 9- to 10-year-olds is just a lot to be said about how much they love the game of baseball.
“A lot of them probably have a future in baseball because they love it so much,” he continued. “What they accomplished this summer they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”
But none of this was possible, Calloway said, without the support of the community, his coaching staff and most importantly, the parents.
“I’d like to thank my two assistant coaches Barb Kohut and Simon Bredenberg … I couldn’t have done it without them,” Calloway said. “The dedication of the parents ... them putting up with the three- to four-day-a-week practices and they sacrificed their summer as well. And thank you to our community for financially supporting us and every other way they have.”