Little Leaguers looking to shine in Poland
July 12, 2012
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — If the Kaiserslautern Military Community All-Stars earn a third trip in four seasons to next month’s Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., the main reason will be depth.
“Our pitching is seven deep,” said KMC coach Eric Vincent as he prepped his team for the July 20-28 European Regional Tournament in Kutno, Poland. “Our goal in the District Tournament (Germany District 1) was to pitch everyone for one inning and keep everybody eligible.”
KMC’s depth doesn’t end with the mound staff, either. Vincent says the Stars are tigers at the plate.
“We have power hitters all through the lineup,” Vincent said. “In the district tournament against Stuttgart, our Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters homered back-to-back-to-back in one inning, and our Nos. 6 and No. 7 homered back-to-back in the next inning. In our last six games before the Germany tournament, we outscored the opposition 113-2.”
The best-of-three Germany tournament for the berth in Kutno started out that way, too, with the All-Stars taking the first game 7-0, but having to rally from a four-run deficit in the second game before prevailing 11-10.
Add confidence and perseverance to the voluminous quiver of arrows the KMC Stars will take to Kutno.
“We hadn’t been behind all year, but trailed almost all of that second game,” said Vincent, who’s in his 16th year of coaching. “We were down by four runs, and our best player (Justin Wilson) was injured. But the kids rallied for six runs in the bottom of the fifth, and we held on.”
The Stars’ resilience came as no surprise to catcher-third baseman Kyle Glenn.
“We knew we had a really good team, said the eighth-grader-to-be who turned 13 in May to just make the age limit for the 11-12-year-olds’ division. “We went in there and played baseball. We didn’t drop our heads. We kept coming back every inning with two-out rallies.”
Overseas Americans missed out on last year’s World Series, where a team from Rotterdam, Holland, represented Europe. KMC squads, however, played at Williamsport the two years prior to that, with the 2009 team ending a nine-year drought for U.S. military community teams at Williamsport. This year’s 66th Little League World Series is scheduled for Aug. 16-26.
Right now, though, as Glenn put it, “It’s all about Poland.”
For 11-year-old outfielder Nathan Kranz, Poland is enough for the moment.
“I think it’ll be cool,” the Ramstein soon-to-be sixth-grader said. “It’ll be a neat experience to play against other countries I didn’t know even played baseball.”
Details of the European Regional weren’t yet complete at press time, so the competition that awaits the All-Stars, who’ll begin the 11-hour drive to Kutno on July 18, remains a mystery.
But one dream-capping certainty was clear to Kranz.
“If we make it to Williamsport,” he said, “we get to miss a week of school.”