Berlin All-Star squad captures third state crown

(Aug. 2, 2013) The Berlin All-Stars 11-12-year-old team captured its third Little League Maryland State title last Thursday when they won 5-1 over Brunswick (District 2 champions). Berlin has advanced to the Mid-Atlantic Region Little League Tournament in Bristol, Conn., which begins today, Friday.

The All-Stars team is scheduled to go up against New Jersey tonight in the first game of the tournament, which takes place Aug. 2-11. The same Berlin team advanced to the finals of the regional tournament as 10-year-olds in 2011.

“We’ve been in a similar position before so we know how to navigate a week-long tournament,” said Manager Cameron McDonough. “This year will be better and we’re confident.”

This chance at the regional title did not come easy. After many close games in the state tournament, held in Arbutus, Md., July 20-26, McDonough said their last game against Brunswick was “tight.”

Zack Pletcher pitched the first two innings and only made one error. Brunswick’s only run came in the second inning.

Hayden Snelsire sent a double into right field in the top of the third and was moved to third base by a single from Tristan McDonough. McDonough also stole second.

Billy Wheatley hit a ground ball scoring Snelsire to tie the game 1-1. Matt Kinsey hit a base-clearing double to give Berlin a 3-1 lead. Wes Powell sent a two-run home run over the center field wall and secured the 5-1 victory for Berlin.

McDonough pitched the last four innings, only allowing Brunswick one hit as he struck out 11 batters.

“It was a wonderful feeling,” the manager said. “Our pitching and defense was absolutely beautiful.”

Berlin (District 8 champions) played four games in the state tournament against Maryland Little League teams. The local team outscored Bethesda (District 7 champions) 4-3, earned a 12-2 victory over Elkton (District 5 champions), shut out Conococheague (District 1 champions) 2-0 and in the title game, the Berlin boys took down Brunswick (District 2 champions) 5-1. The All-Stars remained undefeated during the entire double-elimination competition.

If Berlin wins the regional title, the team will advance to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., which takes place Aug. 15-25.

“It’s interesting, there’s been a lot of attention on [the tournament] with the potential to play on ESPN,” said McDonough. “It’s fun for the kids and they love it. At the same time, we have to make sure we’re keeping focus, and it can be tough. We’ve worked hard and played hard, which is the reason we got this attention.”

McDonough said balancing work and play during the tournament is key. The Little League Baseball and Softball organization schedules activities for the teams to boost and keep up morale. McDonough said the team is looking forward to a field trip to ESPN in the near future.

Between the state and regional tournaments, Berlin has been recognized. The Washington Nationals honored the Maryland and Virginia state champions on the field before their Sunday, July 28, game against the New York Mets. Nationals’ outfielder Bryce Harper autographed baseballs for the two teams and visited with the players.

“Oh, that was a big deal,” said McDonough. “It was impressive to see a 20-year-old be that giving with his time. That really pumped up the boys.”

The Baltimore Orioles were also scheduled to honor Berlin before their Wednesday, July 31, game against the Houston Astros. With all the attention, McDonough said he continues to keep the team grounded.

“Our goal is still yet to be achieved, and I keep reminding the team of that,” he said. “We have a five-part goal, three parts are down and we still have two to go (regional tournament and World Series).”

Berlin is scheduled to play four games in the regional tournament against New Jersey, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. If the Berlin All-Stars hold their own, a semi-final game is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 9, with a challenger game on Saturday and a championship game on Sunday.

The Berlin All-Stars are still accepting donations to help fund their trip. To make a tax-deductable donation, contact Nornie Bunting at 410-251-0201 or Eric Snelsire at 412-977-3882. To follow the Berlin All-Stars, visit www.facebook.com/berlinlittleleague.org.

The Berlin All-Stars hold a banner after winning the Little League Maryland State Tournament on Thursday, July 25. It is the third state title for the team, which has advanced to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Little League Tournament in Bristol, Conn. Competition begins Aug. 2.

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