Tom Vladeck is a pleasant kid. The first thing you notice is his size. At 5 feet 11 and 155 pounds, he is big for a 12-year-old. Then you see the engaging little-boy smile and are taken aback by the free-flowing, intelligent words he uses to describe the events he has just helped create.
You can't help but like him, unless you have to hit against him.
Today, Vladeck pitched a one-hitter, struck out 12 and walked three as Capitol City defeated Bronx, N.Y., 4-0, in a quarterfinal game in the Little League Eastern Regional tournament at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Leadership Training Center.
Vladeck lost a bid for his second no-hitter of the tournament with two out in the sixth inning. At one point, he struck out eight in a row, including seven consecutive batters without as much as a foul ball. In pitching three shutouts, he has allowed three hits in 18 innings, struck out 40 and walked 10.
"My breaking pitches kept them off balance," Vladeck said. "If they hit it, they pound it into the ground and I have a great defense behind me."
Capitol City (8-2) will play defending world champion Toms River, N.J., Tuesday in a semifinal. The winner advances to Thursday's final for a trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
"I knew we had a chance, but didn't think it was a very big chance," Vladeck said. "But every day it seems to be getting closer and closer to reality."
Capitol City broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning. Vladeck singled to right field and advanced to second on a passed ball. Cameron Dantley, son of former DeMatha High and NBA star Adrian Dantley, had an infield single and Vladeck scored on a passed ball.
Capitol City added three runs in the sixth on singles by Daniel Diaz and Vladeck and an error, groundout and wild pitch.
The team is coached by Mike Domanski, a cardiologist and head of the Clinical Trials Group of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
"What's nice is they are a group you can be proud of," Domanski said. "I think it can be argued that no 12-year old in the world can hit what [Vladeck] is throwing. He's a very smart kid, very focused and very mature. He's a young man any community would be proud of and Washington should be very proud.
"If this were a children's story, this would be the happy ending."