By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(Dec. 26, 2019) Berlin’s Little League All-Star teams were quite successful this season, with several winning district, state and/or regional titles. One squad even advanced to the World Series.
The Junior Berlin Little League All-Star team played in Taylor, Michigan for the World Series in August and finished the season ranked fourth out of 1,500 U.S. Junior Little League squads and eighth internationally.
Berlin – district, state and regional champions – lost its first game to the South East Regional championship team from Florida, 15-2.
Berlin’s next game was against the South West Regional championship team from Oklahoma. Berlin won 19-3 in four innings.
“That game was Berlin baseball at its finest,” Coach Kris Mandley said. “We made a statement with that win.”
The Berlin squad played a team from Michigan next, and lost, 5-1, ending its World Series tournament run.
“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.”
The team returned home from the World Series on Aug. 19 in style with a police procession and escort by the Maryland Red Knights Motorcycle Club.
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.
“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,” Mandley 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, then 14-4 to Pennsylvania’s representative and 13-0 to a squad from New York, in August.
The Berlin squad – district and state champions – finished the tournament with a win over the regional representative from Delaware, 5-2.
“It was a good way to go out of the tournament,” 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.”
During the regional tournament, each team was guaranteed four games. After losing three games, the Berlin squad was out of the running for the championship, but the boys didn’t give up.
“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,” Calloway said.
The Berlin Intermediate team played a squad from New Jersey twice in August, during the regional tournament in Dix Hills, New York.
Berlin won the first match, 4-1, but lost the second, which was for the regional title, 13-3.
The Berlin squad kicked off the tournament with a 14-6 victory over New Hampshire. The group then topped a team from Pennsylvania, 11-8.
The Berlin team suffered its first loss falling to New Jersey, 6-3. However, the boys bounced back with a victory trouncing their New York opponent, 24-6, to advance to the championship competition against the team from New Jersey.
“It was a great season and a lot of memories were made,” Coach Barb Kohut said. “The team worked their hearts out all season and that showed.”
The squad won a district and state title this season.
It takes a lot of dedication, talent and commitment to win a district and state title,” Kohut said. “The fact that they are second in the eastern region is something to applaud, not put their heads down.”
The Major Softball League district and state championship team fought valiantly, but fell out of the running for a regional title after losing to New Jersey in Bristol, Connecticut, 11-4, in July.
“We were happy to come out and win one,” Coach Katie Griffin said. “It was a phenomenal experience. It was nothing they ever experienced before and it was just a lot of fun and bonding.”
The squad lost to New York in the first round of the regional tournament, 12-2. The girls rallied back with a 6-1 win over their opponent from Maine.
Despite the season-ending loss, the team was not disappointed.
“I had someone come up to me and say this was the best Maryland team he’s seen in a long time,” Griffin said. “We took it as every game is a bonus round. We’re not bummed.”