New Britain City Journal

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The Sports Journal

New Britain Little League in Thick of Tournament

The New Britain Little League 12U team is in the thick of the Little League World Series tournament and currently stands with a record of 2-2 heading into Independence Day Weekend.

New Britain is part of District 5, which encompasses towns such as Berlin, Bristol, Plainville, Farmington, Southington, Meriden and Wallingford. During the district level of the tournament, leagues are split into two different pools where the top two seeds in each one face off against each other in a double-elimination playoff. The winner then represents District 5 in the sectional level, which includes leagues from Fairfield, Orange, Shelton and more. The winner of that then heads to the state championship with the victor headed to Bristol, Connecticut for the New England Regional tournament with the chance to advance to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the Little League World Series.

New Britain Little League has never advanced past the district level, although they have been quite successful over the past several years in the preliminary stages. Back in 2012, the 11U team advanced to the district playoffs for the first time in league history in that age group. In 2013, as 12-year-olds, advanced to the playoffs once again and were two games away from the championship. Last summer, the 12U team clinched first place in their pool, which was the first time this happened in over a decade. They too finished just two games shy of the championship game. Now, in 2015, the 12U team will look to continue that success and perhaps get the league over the hump and into the championship game.

However, with just two games to go, the team will need a lot of help to be in play to advance to the district playoffs. The team started off with a tough loss to Plainville, 3-4. They followed that up with a big win over Southington West and then another one over McCabe Waters. On Tuesday evening, they lost another close game to Farmington, 7-8. They’ll face off against Jack Barry Little League after the weekend break and then will close out the pool play portion on against Southington South.

Only two teams out of seven from each pool advance to the playoffs and the standings in New Britain’s pool are crowded. Southington South, who is currently undefeated, is the clear favorite to land the number one seed as they were crowned New England champions when they were 10 years old and state champions when the group was 11 years old. The second seed is up for grabs but Plainville and Farmington will be battling it out to claim that spot. However, nothing at this point is guaranteed.

Because of their losses to Plainville and Farmington and assuming Southington South claims the number one seed, New Britain will need to hope for a three-way tie between themselves, Plainville/Farmington and either McCabe Waters/Southington West. Because of their head-to-head losses to Plainville and Farmington, they’ll need it to come down to run-differential in order to have a realistic chance to advance to the next round.

This year’s team is managed by Frankie Adorno, who has been a coach in the league for close to 20 years. He is assisted by Chad Heath, Justin Dorsey and Guy Crundwell. There are 14 players on the team and they’ve come from all the various teams the league had in the Majors division this past spring. Since Little League rules prohibit all-star teams from practicing until June 15, the team had less than two weeks to prepare and come together as one unit. Despite that, Adorno said the transition wasn’t too hard.

“It wasn’t tough at all. I have a history coaching most of the kids on the team, so the transition of them playing together is not a problem. They work together well and have great attitudes. Additionally, I have a great coaching staff. I have built a good relationship with each of them throughout the years and this isn’t the first time we have coached together. I couldn’t ask for a better coaching staff.”

Adorno’s philosophy is to focus more on the defensive side of the ball, which is supplemented by great pitching. However, that’s because of the way this team is built and Adorno isn’t trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

“I feel that we lack some parts on our offense. We have trouble getting clutch hits when we need it the most and don’t have a ton of power hitters on the team. We have to rely on our defense because we can’t always count on our bats to do all the work for us.”

All games are played at Recreation Park in Plantsville. The game against Jack Barry will be on Tuesday, July 7 at 8 p.m. and the game against Southington South will be on Saturday, July 11 at 8 pm. There is a lot of baseball to be played and the only thing New Britain can do right now is win their remaining two games to have a chance to advance to the playoffs.

The 12U roster consists of the following players: Justin Adorno, Daniel Costa, Nigel Crundwell, Chris Gibbs, Eliot Jones, Ryan Lipinski, Marcus Mitchell, Albert Molina, Johnny Morell, Fabian Negron, Amaziah Tejada, Yadiel Vera, Alejandro Vasquez and Julio Zambrana.