Slugging takes Suffolk team far at states

Published 7:31 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Suffolk Sluggers finished runner-up in the USSSA 12U Virginia State Championship last weekend in Mechanicsville. The Sluggers went 5-2 in the tournament. The Sluggers are Blake Sargent, Tim Gromkoski, Rylee Williams, Jack Darden, Greyson Milburn, Grayson Rowland, Justin Walker, Andrew Teixiera, Grant Taylor and Matthew Heath.

Led by hammering 14 homers in seven games, the Suffolk Sluggers finished second in the state last weekend in the USSSA 12U Virginia State Championship baseball tournament in Mechanicsville.

It was the last tournament of the summer for the Sluggers, a travel team based out of Sluggers Batting Cages and Pro Shop in downtown Suffolk, so winning five of the seven games and reaching the championship game was big after months of hard work.

“These kids put in a lot of work. They’ve been practicing two or three days a week since January, whether it’s indoor practice or out at the field,” said head coach Mike Sargent.

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“This was the first time we made runner-up in a tournament this year. Last year, this group won two tournaments,” Sargent said.

Runs were easy for the Sluggers to pile up. Suffolk went through pool play with a 3-1 record. The Sluggers beat the Richmond River Bandits 11-3, lost to the Atlee Eagles 5-4, beat the RBA East Rebels 10-2 and won 17-3 over the TSI Titans.

In elimination play, the Sluggers edged the Patriots of Northern Virginia 6-5 and avenged the one-run loss to Atlee with a 9-8 win. Glen Allen Extreme topped the Sluggers 13-8 in the final.

Blake Sargent led the Sluggers at the plate with six home runs. Tim Gromkoski hit five homers. Rylee Williams hit two dingers and Jack Darden hit a homer.

Mike Sargent credited the hitting but said his club’s defense had just as much to do with the victories.

“I don’t think we had more than five errors or so all weekend, which is excellent,” he said.

The Sluggers lasted through the seven games in three days with 10 guys on the squad. Along with Sargent, Gromkoski, Williams and Darden, the rest of the team is Matthew Heath, Grant Taylor, Andrew Teixiera, Justin Walker, Grayson Rowland and Greyson Milburn.

Earlier in July, the Sluggers played in the Wood Bat State Championship in USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association) in Prince George County, going 2-1 in the tournament.

“It was kind of a throwback type of thing. We wanted it to be something different, something fun, for them,” Sargent said.

“Of course we used it to see where we can get better with our swings, but that tournament was mostly about fun and having the experience of playing the game with wooden bats,” Sargent said.

The Sluggers will be breaking, likely not from practicing but at least from playing tournaments, until the fall season gets going in September