So few people in Hamilton, N.J., believed the Prince George's 15-year-old team could defeat the powerful hosts in Friday's Babe Ruth Middle Atlantic Region championship game that most of the host team's family and friends already had made reservations to the Babe Ruth World Series in Abbeville, La.
But when the undefeated Prince George's team rallied from a three-run deficit to win the championship, 12-7, and earn the berth at the World Series, those would-be travelers turned into travel agents and began handing their travel information to the families of the Prince George's team.
Hamilton "was one of the best-hitting 15-year-old teams I've ever seen," Prince George's Coach Andrew Capece said. "They were the 14-year-old region champions last year and were averaging five home runs a game until they played us. They had all expected to be playing next week. But we were solid throughout the lineup, used three quality pitchers and were able to get it done."
Friday's win made the 15-year-old team the second county representative to advance the Babe Ruth World Series. Last Wednesday, the Prince George's 13-year-old team twice defeated Cherry Hill, N.J., at Prince George's Stadium to earn a berth in the World Series in Tallahassee.
The Prince George's 15s--an all-star team drawn from the county's 13-15 Babe Ruth League--has won eight straight games in its extended season, sweeping the Maryland state and Middle Atlantic Region tournaments. Next stop is Ralph Sellers Field in Abbeville, La., to play the winner of the Abbeville-Sarasota, Fla., game Sunday afternoon in the double-elimination tournament.
The 15s are led by a trio of pitchers--Matt Petersen (St. John's), Danny Nichol (DeMatha) and Chris Grimley (Parkdale). Petersen is 2-0 with a save and a 3.00 earned run average in 14 innings. Corey Harris (Eleanor Roosevelt) is the team's top run producer, going 8 for 14 in the regional tournament with six RBI, four stolen bases and seven runs scored.
The 13s will open play Sunday at Dick Howser Stadium in the double-elimination championships against the winner of the North Carolina-Tallahassee game. They were led by pitcher Justin Dagostino, who yielded two runs in four appearances and had a hand in four of the team's six wins.
"The first time these kids played together was the first game of this tournament," Coach Jeff Palumbo said. "So to beat four state champions felt pretty good. Playing every day for six straight days, the players picked up enough confidence to carry them through this tournament."