MANCHESTER, N.H. — The Coventry Babe Ruth 13-year-old all-stars won the state title with its deep pitching staff.
Coventry won the New England title with its potent lineup.
After scoring only 33 runs in their four games at McCarthy Field to win the state title, Coventry scored 36 runs in its two games Thursday night to defeat Plymouth, Mass. and claim the state title. Couple that performance with Coventry’s 14 runs in an elimination game against Westfield, Mass. the day before and it becomes clear whey Coventry is headed to Williston, N.D. for the Babe Ruth World Series.
“I just felt like we were all seeing the ball well and we were being real selective,” said No. 6 hitter Kyle Brown, who was Coventry’s most consistent hitter for the six games at Gill Stadium. “The coaches stressed that we need to hit our pitches and not swing at their pitches. We waited and got our pitches.”
“The past few games we finally got the bats going,” No. 3 hitter Jarrad Grossguth said. “It was only a matter of time before everyone started hitting at once.”
“It’s about time our bats came through,” clean-up hitter Cam Reid said. “We’re a hitting team. Our bats our powerful 1-9 and we haven’t been doing it. In the state tournament we hit well, but not to our full potential. We came through in this tournament, especially the last three games.”
Coventry didn’t start the tournament slowly on offense, but the team didn’t perform up to its lofty expectations. In wins over Manchester, N.H. and New Milford, Conn. and a loss to Plymouth, Coventry scored 22 runs.
Everything changed in the Rhode Island state champs’ elimination game against Westfield, Mass. where Coventry finally stopped stranding runners in scoring position.
Over the last three games the eight starters who played in all three games – No. 9 hitter Colin Sutyla missed Wednesday’s game with an illness – dominated.
“We weren’t very disciplined in our first couple of games,” Nick D’Ambra said. “We were swinging at bad pitches. We learned that if it’s not your pitch to take it.”
• Center fielder Nick D’Ambra went 3-for-12 with seven runs scored, an RBI and a double.
• First baseman Joey Barter went 7-for-13 with seven runs scored, five RBIs, a home run, a triple and a double.
• Shortstop Jarrad Grossguth went7-for-13 with nine runs scored, four RBIs, two doubles and a triple.
• Catcher Cam Reid went 4-for-10 with five RBIs and four runs scored.
• Pitcher Manny Bjorklund went 8-for-12 with 11 RBIs, six runs scored and two home runs.
• Third baseman Kyle Brown went 4-for-11 with five runs scored, four RBIs and a triple.
• Right fielder Josh Andrade went 5-for-10 with five RBIs, three runs scored and two doubles.
• Left fielder Steve Verrier went 3-for-11 with four RBIs, three runs scored, a triple and a double.
“Like I said at states, we were waiting for the bats to wake up,” Coventry coach Mark Barter said. “They woke up with a vengeance the last three games. That’s what we needed. They were a little down after losing, but they got their confidence back and they knew they could hit.”
Barter said after the 8-7 victory over New Milford his team needed to string together a few hits and break out for big innings. That certainly happened in both championship games.
After Plymouth starter Sam Ferreira set down the first eight Coventry batters in the opening game, Coventry exploded for eight, two-out runs in the third inning thanks to hits from Sutyla, D’Ambra, Barter, Reid and Bjorklund. Coventry scored at least two runs in three other innings in the 17-8 win.
The second game followed a similar pattern. RBIs from Bjorklund and Brown helped Coventry score three runs in the first inning. Coventry scored at least three runs in four innings, including eight in the sixth. Bjorklund’s grand slam capped off the eight-run explosion.
“They just started ripping the ball,” Barter said. “We expect offense from Joey, Jarrad, Cam, Manny and those guys, but Nick D’Ambra came alive in this tournament and Josh Andrade had a great tournament. Steve Verrier hit the ball hard and Colin handles the bat so well. Everybody hit.
“Joey hit a home run. Jarrad hit a home run and Manny hit a couple. KB (Brown) was hitting the ball. He had the series of a lifetime. He just had a great tournament.”