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Last week the Montclair Baseball Club sent its U12 team to a national tournament at Cooperstown Dreams Park in New York. Local dad and father of one of the pitchers, Fred Guterl, gave us a play by play of the tournament:

Even though the tournament is dominated by elite teams that play all year round and draw players from wide regions, the Montclair travel team managed to win 3 of 6 preliminary games to finish with a seeding of 52 out of 104 teams. Then the boys proceeded to win their first two playoff games–the second against an elite team from Texas that probably never knew what hit them. Helped by an ironman performance from pitcher Doug Gertner, the Bulldogs closed out the Texas team in 5 innings because they had a lead of at least 12 runs, invoking the “mercy” rule.
Montclair played its final game against the Bakersfield Bulldogs from California, another elite team. Before the game, Coach Gil Cisneros gave the boys a simple pep talk: nobody ever expected them to make it this far, he said, so they had nothing to lose. Montclair came out swinging in the first inning, jumping to a 1-0 lead when Benjy Kaneda scored from third base. Pitcher Ben Guterl kept the opposition batters off balance, allowing only one run in the fourth inning, which tied the score. The California team scored its second run on a technicality to eke out a 2-1 victory.
The boys were elated. Overall Montclair hit 13 home runs during the tournament, 5 by slugger Nick Starpoli, which included a grand slam against one of the best teams in the country.

Congratulations to the Montclair Bulldogs!

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5 replies on “Montclair Bulldogs Cooperstown Baseball Tournament”

  1. Wow, now there’s a Cinderella story, and memories that will last a lifetime. Good for them! They should be very proud.
    What was the technicality?

  2. Reminds me of the Stephen King essay “Head Down” about his son’s championship Little League season. Great (non-fiction) writing. It’s published in the collection “Nightmares and Dreamscapes”.

  3. The technicality was a balk, somewhere in the 5th or 6th inning, which brought a runner home from 3d. He had gotten on base on a call of catcher’s interference.
    Some notes about the pictures: That’s Montclair’s own Carol Vasquez (Starpoli) singing the anthem, the home run hitter is Cal Cisneros, the other batter in Benjy Kaneda, the boy who just beat the throw to first is Mike Hall, No. 14 is Blair Prato, the boy dodging a wild pitch is Joe Amato (who also smacked a grand slam), and the pitcher is Ben.

  4. A balk is not a “technicality.” It is a procedural violation, and pitchers are supposed to be trained to avoid them. (But I am surprised at one being called on this level of play. Still, perhaps it was so obvious a balk, and a rule is a rule…)
    Nor does the use of the misleading word “technicality” explain how the runner advanced as far as third in the first place.

  5. The balk in question was a “phantom-balk.” No one in the park saw the balk except for the third base umpire. Even the umpires argued amongst themselves about it. Clearly there was no attempt to deceive the runner and considering the magnitude of the game, it should not have been called at this level. (You should have seen how quickly this umpire ran out of the stadium after the game!)

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