By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(Aug. 22, 2019) The Junior Berlin Little League All-Star team returned home from the World Series, held in Taylor, Michigan, in style with a police procession and escort by the Maryland Red Knights Motorcycle Club on Monday.
Several local officials including Berlin Mayor Gee Williams, Worcester County Commissioner Bud Church and Worcester County Sheriff Matt Crisafulli as well as the parents and family members of the Berlin Little League All Stars came out to the Worcester County Athletic Complex in Berlin to congratulate the team on making it all the way to the World Series.
Berlin – district, state and regional champions – lost its first game to the South East Regional championship team from Florida on Sunday, Aug.11, 15-2.
Berlin battled back with a win against the South West Regional championship team from Oklahoma, last Tuesday, 19-3, in four innings.
The all stars lost their final game to a team from Michigan, 5-1, last Wednesday.
The Berlin team finished the season ranked fourth out of 1,500 U.S. Junior Little League squads and eighth internationally.
“We’re just glad to be home,” Head Coach Kris Mandley said. “These boys have accomplished so much. It would have been nice to win the whole thing but being fourth in the nation and eighth in the world as a Junior League champion is unreal, and I’m sure everyone here is excited to get a night in their own beds.”
His son, Dylan, 14, described the experience as “unbelievable.”
“We started off in a small town and worked our way up to [the World Series],” he said.
Many of his teammates agreed.
“It was crazy how such a small town can go so far,” Roman Keith, 14, said. “I felt a lot of pressure but I knew that we were out there to have fun and we were out there for a purpose.”
“When you think about everyone back home watching and representing Berlin, Maryland, and the East Region it was just a great feeling,” Stephen Wade, 14, added.
John Tartufo, treasurer for the Maryland Chapter Three Red Knights, wanted to celebrate the team’s great achievements and escort the boys back to Worcester County.
The motorcycle group met the team’s bus in Salisbury and escorted them to Berlin.
“I thought it would be fitting to give them a hero’s welcome because they are truly heroes,” Tartufo said. “They went so far in this series and that’s what we do for our heroes.”
In addition, Tartufo and the Red Knights collected $1,000 to donate to Berlin Little League when they heard two of the families could not afford to go watch their children play in the World Series.
The Red Knights are an international motorcycle club made up of fire service personnel, supporters, and their families which is dedicated to promoting motorcycle safety and projecting a positive image of motorcycling.
Williams and Church also expressed their pride in the team.
“We are very proud of you,” Williams told the boys. “It’s not just a talent and the extraordinary team effort that you make, but we’re very proud of the character that you’ve shown, not only for our community but for Little Leaguers all over this country. We’re very proud of you and look forward to your future contributions to your town, your state, your country and your families.”
“I can’t tell you how proud, not only the Town of Berlin but Worcester County and the state of Maryland are of what you accomplished,” Church said. “Everybody was talking about Berlin Little League. You put Berlin Little League on the map. I want you all to remember this day, because 20 years from now, you’ll still be talking about this day and this experience.”