Young Rota takes baseball title
May 28, 2007
REGENSBURG, Germany — The least experienced squad in the nine-team high school baseball championship tournament ended up having the best experience of all.
The Rota Admirals, making their first appearance in the event and sporting a roster that included five eighth-graders, blanked the Ramstein 2 Rhinos 4-0 in Sunday’s championship game.
“My fastball was working pretty well, and my defense played well behind me,” sophomore right-hander Nicholas Delgado said after tossing a three-hit, five-strikeout shutout at the Rhinos, one of two teams from Ramstein in the field. “I got a lot of ground balls.”
Eight of them, in fact, all handled flawlessly by the Rota infield of third baseman Travis Apling and three eighth-graders — shortstop Christian Roman, second baseman Anthony Lamb and first baseman Jake Brouker.
Rota grabbed all the runs Delgado would need in the bottom of the first. Consecutive singles by Roman, Lamb and Delgado loaded the bases. After Ramstein starter Tyler Tucker fanned Andrew Bankey, Apling laid down a suicide squeeze bunt close enough to the plate that Roman was tagged out.
However, John Ingersoll, batting sixth, followed with a bloop single that drove in two runs, and a third scored on an error on the play.
Rota added an unearned run in the third on a hit batter, two wild pitches and an error, but the only other hit off Ramstein starter Tyler Tucker was a harmless bunt single by Cameron Henry, another junior high player, in the fourth. Tucker struck out five and walked just one.
“He pitched well enough to win,” said Ramstein assistant coach Carey Tucker, the pitcher’s father, who was pressed into service as head coach when Rhinos head coach Brent Belschner was deployed.
“If we step on home and throw to first on the bunt and don’t throw the ball away in the third, it’s 0-0.”
Even at 4-0, the game was the closest anyone came to the Admirals during the three-day tournament sponsored by the Installation Management Command-Europe’s Youth Services program.
During pool play, Rota downed Grafenwöhr 10-1, the other Ramstein team 12-2 and Heidelberg, the defending champ, 15-8 — an astounding run for a bunch of junior high guys and others not that much older.
Or was it?
“We play some Spanish teams, but most of our games are against adults on base,” said Delgado, voted tournament MVP. “That’s how we got used to fast pitching and learned how to play as a team.”
All-tournament teams(Voted by participating coaches)
First team—Nicholas Delgado (MVP) and Andrew Bankey, Rota; Kyle Sanders, Ramstein 2; Aaron Jones, Ramstein 1; Devin Smith, Kaiserlautern; Kyle Hernandez, Aviano; Darrold Harper, Wiesbaden; Sal Katz, Heidelberg; William Pomares, Vilseck; and Johnny Mensch (team unavailable).
Second team—Gavon Byrd and Tyler Tucker, Ramstein 2; Nolan Stark, Vilseck; Blake Holmund, Heidelberg; Sayf Kone, Kaiserslautern; Andre Murray, Ramstein 1; Randy Taylor, Hohenfels; John Ingersoll and Anthony Lamb, Rota.