LYNN — Plenty has been said regarding the Lynn Babe Ruth 16-18-year-old All-Star team’s run to the World Series. The Lynners arrived in Jamestown, New York Thursday evening after an eight-hour bus ride and now one thing’s clear: it’s finally time to play baseball.
Aside from a scrimmage against the North Shore Giants Monday night at Fraser Field, Lynn hasn’t played a game since last Tuesday’s regional final against Cape Cod. Keeping the players loose through the past nine days has been the objective for coaches Al Donovan and Leon Elwell.
“We wanted to keep the kids loose and at the same time be competitive,” Donovan said. “We scrimmaged the Giants and we used all our pitchers in that game. We went to Extra Innings and hit in the cages for two hours. We met with the parents, set the expectations before we head down there. We worked on our defensive plays during the scrimmage and took good batting practice.
“Baseball’s about repetition,” Donovan said. “Not just on drills but hitting, fielding, pitching too. Working on defensive run-downs and cut-offs. It’s all about repetition, these guys have done it the last seven, eight years of their lives. You make sure you’re ready for competitive situations. It might come down to a little play like putting down a sac-bunt. We work on those little plays. I believe they’re ready. I think it just comes down to executing.”
The Lynners are guaranteed four games in the World Series. They’ll play one tilt against each of the other four teams in their pool. They begin pool play Saturday afternoon (2:30) against the Southeast Region champion. Sunday (2:30) they take on the Pacific Southwest Regional champion. Monday (7:30) Lynn clashes against the Southern Tier Region champion. Tuesday (2:30) they battle the Midwest Region champion. All World Series games will be played at Russell E. Dietrich, Jr. Park in Jamestown.
There are two pools, five teams in each, competing in the World Series. The top three teams from each pool advance to the knockout round of the tournament. The top team from each pool will earn a bye, giving them an automatic bid in the semifinals. If Lynn finishes as one of the top three teams in its pool, it’ll have a rest day Wednesday. If Lynn’s the top seed in its pool, Thursday will also be a rest day with the semifinals scheduled for Friday.
“Whenever you get to the top 10 teams, at any level, you’ll play top teams,” Donovan said. “Last year Cape Cod went down there and I believe they finished fourth. We feel we’re going to see some good competition.”
While the goal is to emerge as one of the top three teams of the pool, Donovan said the Lynners are taking a “one game at a time” approach as they dive into pool play. They’re focused on Saturday’s game without looking too far ahead.
“We’re aiming to go out and play well in game one,” Donovan said. “We’re not looking too far ahead to game two or game three. We have to go out and execute. We’ll leave it all on the table. I believe we’ll do well out there, I really do.”
Lynn’s roster includes a solid mix of 18 players, half of which played on a similar stage two summers ago in the 15-year-old Babe Ruth World Series in North Dakota. Donovan said carrying a core of players who know what to expect on a national stage goes a long way in preparing for the World Series.
“They’re ready,” Donovan said. “There has been a lot of talk of excitement. They’re chewing at the bit to compete at a high level. We have nine kids who were on this stage two years ago and that says a lot. We have nine other kids who played at a high level and are very talented. I’m happy we’re leaving. It’s been a long build up.
“I’m happy for the kids,” Donovan said. “Me and coach Elwell love watching these kids play. We’ve coached them in Little League. We’ve had some of these kids for a number of years. We’ve meshed well together as a team. It’s been a team effort all the way around. It’s going to be an interesting ride.”