BCLL headed to state tourney

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, July 19, 2012

Members of the Bennett’s Creek All-Star team are shown in a team photo after winning the championship game recently. In the bottom photo, team members are Jake Ittel, Sam Wolfe, Sarren Wright, Jo Jo Rivera, Aaron Williams, manager Sandon Rogers, Tyler Matalevich, Nick Arnold, Carter Stone, coach Frank Ittel, Conor Brown, coach Mike Brown, Hunter Jefferies, Christian Moore and Landon Rogers.

By Titus Mohler

Correspondent

The Bennett’s Creek Little League 9-10 Year-Old All-Star baseball team swept the District 6 Baseball Tournament, sending them to the 2012 Virginia state tourney.

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The All-Star team is formed specifically for these tournaments, developing its roster of players based on votes from team managers in Bennett’s Creek’s Minor and Major divisions.

Coach Sandon Rogers said he was pleased with the performance he got from his team members.

“I would just say that all the players contributed at all levels,” he said. “It was truly a team win. The lower part of the order and the substitutes all got hits when we needed them, key hits.”

Bennett’s Creek Little League kicked off the district tourney with a bang by ending its contest with the Chesapeake Little League in the fourth inning due to the slaughter rule. The final score was 16-3.

Cradock provided more of a challenge, falling to BCLL by just two runs, 7-5. Especially strong pitching powered a 5-1 win over Charles Peete.

“Against Charles Peete, our two pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts,” Rogers said.

BCLL faced Olive Branch in the championship game and triumphed 8-5 to advance to the state level.

The state tourney will involve a total of 16 teams broken up into different pools.

“(There are) four teams in each pool, and you play three games,” Rogers explained. “And then the top two teams out of each pool advance to the single-elimination tournament.”

Rogers said the age and experience of this year’s team was important in helping its members advance further than last year’s younger 9/10 squad. Qualifying for this age bracket is determined by being either 9 or 10 at a prior point in the season, even if the players are older now.

“Most of our kids this year, with the exception of four, are all 10/11s. Some of them (have) already turned 11,” Rogers said. “So, now we’re (an) older 9/10 team, so we’re able to take advantage of that.”

Though most of the kids have played baseball with each other before, forming a successful All-Star team from a volunteer pool of players is still a challenge, made possible only by commitment from the kids and their parents.

“We have to choose from the ones who volunteer to give up half their summer, so you’re kind of putting together a team of those kids that were available,” Rogers said. “But these kids play very well together.”

In identifying the team’s specific strengths, the coach led with pitching.

“Just outstanding pitching staff,” he said. “I can put any 12 of the players on the mound.”

Rogers also praised a strong defense that turned four double plays in one game during the district tourney. Lastly, he complimented the team’s hitting that consistently drove runners around the bases.

“I would just say that the success of the team, it really boils down to the desire of the kids, their incredible skill levels,” he said. “And the management through the ranks of Bennett’s Creek (has) really developed these kids into kids that know how to play the game.”

The 2012 Virginia State 9-10 Year-Old Baseball Tournament begins in Ashburn on July 20 with the championship game taking place on the 25th.