LYNN — The Lynn Babe Ruth 16-18-year-old All-Stars returned home late Friday night after spending the week in Jamestown, N.Y. competing in the World Series.
The end result wasn’t what the Lynners aimed for, as the team went 1-3 in pool play and fell short of advancing to the next round.
Despite that, Lynn coach Al Donovan was proud of his team’s effort throughout the week as it clashed against top-notch competition from across the country.
“It was great to have these boys compete against the top nine teams in the country and they showed they can play with any of them,” Donovan said. “Coach (Leon) Elwell and myself couldn’t be happier on the effort, hustle and hard work these 19 boys put in all winter, spring and summer.
“The big thing about this is that the boys understand they can compete with any team in country,” Donovan, also the head baseball coach at Salem State, said. “Especially teams from Virginia, California and Missouri. They had the opportunity to watch Alabama, Washington State and Mid-Atlantic play and they understand now that the ability they have is on par with these teams, if not better.”
Lynn carried a roster with plenty of big game experience as nine of the 19 current players were on the 15-year-old team that reached the World Series in North Dakota two summers ago with Elwell as coach. Yet, despite the experience, this year’s Lynn squad was the youngest in the tournament.
“We had the opportunity to play teams that already had five or six kids who’ve played a year of college baseball,” Donovan said. “We actually had the youngest team in the tournament.”
The Lynners started their World Series run on a tough note by dropping their first two games to Fairfax (VA) and Bakersfield (CA), respectively.
They bounced back with a 8-3 win over tournament host Jamestown to crawl into the win column. Jamestown plated the first three runs of the game but a five-run fifth-inning rally pushed Lynn over the edge for the victory. Dayshon Anderson (2-for-4) and Anthony Nikolakakis (1-for-3) each tallied 2 RBI, and pitcher Max Pegnato was stellar in his 6 2/3 innings of work.
Lynn fell just short in its next game, a 2-1 loss to Charleston (MO). Devin Curley limited Charleston to two runs in six innings. Brett Bucklin (1-for-3) drove in Lynn’s only run of the game.
Lynn still had an outside chance to advance after the loss to Charleston, needing Fairfax and Jamestown to each lose their final pool play games. Jamestown lost but Fairfax won on a late rally, ending Lynn’s run.
Charleston went on to win the World Series with a 4-1 win over Alabama in the championship game Saturday.
After Saturday’s championship game, it was announced that Lynn shortstop AJ Luciano was selected to the all-World Series defensive team.
Donovan said the World Series trip brought Lynn’s players closer together.
“Not just have they come closer together as friends but they made a number of friends with players from other teams,” Donovan said. “Coach Elwell and myself look to see each and every one of these young men develop in the game of baseball and most importantly grow as young men.”
Donovan added there were plenty of people to thank for pitching in toward making the trip to Jamestown possible.
“Coach Elwell and I want to thank the parents who made the trip and fundraising a success,” Donovan said.
“We’d also like to thank all the sponsors who contributed to our fundraising and the community always steps up to support the youth programs, so a huge ‘thank you’ to all the businesses and families for their contribution.”