New Britain Little League 12U Team Clinches First Place in Tourney
The New Britain Little League twelve-year-old all-star team has made history by clinching first place in the pool play portion of the District level of the Little League World Series Tournament.
Little League District Five, which encompasses towns such as Berlin, Bristol, Plainville, Farmington, Southington, Wallingford and others, once formatted the district tournament in a double-elimination format. Once a team lost two games, they were eliminated. Roughly ten years ago, they moved to a pool play format where teams were randomly selected into two separate pools.
New Britain Little League has never clinched first place since the district went to the pool play format and this is only the second time a twelve-year-old team has made the playoffs in the past 14 years, with the other time being last year in 2013.
The team opened the tournament by defeating Southington South Little League and then went on to defeat Yalesville Little League. From there, they defeated Forestville Little League. In a must-win game on July 5, they defeated Edgewood Little League, 5-3, giving them first place and a spot in the playoffs.
The team has been getting it done on offense and defense. In just four games, their lineup has combined for twelve home-runs. Danniel Rivera has four of them alone with Melvin Rodriguez contributing three more. Also hitting home-run blasts are Michael Gajda, Isaac Burgos and Melvin Saylor. On defense, they have been led on the mound by Danniel Rivera, Melvin Rodriguez and Rufino Santiago.
The team is managed by Javier Burgos and he is assisted by Justin Dorsey and Alex Fulco. After not winning a game last year as 11-year olds during the district tournament, Burgos knew he had to make some changes coming into the tournament season and credits a lot of success to his assistants.
“Without Justin and Alex, we wouldn’t be where we are today. They have done a great job with the team – Justin coaching third base and Alex calling the pitches throughout the game. They’ve been a tremendous asset to the team and a lot of credit goes to them for our turnaround.”
Dorsey, who played in New Britain Little League (formerly Walicki-AW Stanley Little League) growing up and now as a coach and board member the past ten years, is proud of this team and everything the league has accomplished over the years.
“It means a lot for me to see this team accomplish so much. I can remember when just a few years ago people would see New Britain on their schedule and think that it would be a guaranteed win. It’s incredible how this league has turned around in such a short timeframe.”
Dealing with twelve-year-olds isn’t the easiest thing and at times, it’s tough to keep them focused on the task at hand. However, Dorsey has kept it simple from the very first time they got together as a team.
“I’ve been preaching one goal to these kids since the first practice on June 15. Have fun! With them being 12 years old it’s the last time they’ll ever play on the small field and they should take in the experience. They’ve already accomplished something that hasn’t been done since before they were born. While 60% of teams in the world have been eliminated, they are still playing,” he said. “There’s no secret to it, the kids just worked hard to get better. We had great coaches in the regular season for NBLL this year that really helped these kids improve.”
Playoffs, which are a double-elimination format, will begin on Thursday, July 10 and they will take on Southington North Little League at 5:45 PM at Recreation Park in Plantsville. If they win, they will play the winner of Farmington Little League vs. Southington South Little League on Friday, July 11 at the Ed Walsh Little League complex in Meriden 5:45 PM. If they lose, they will play the loser of that game on Friday at Recreation Park at Planstville at 5:45 PM.
The team will now try to do something that’s never been done in the history of New Britain Little League – win a District Championship on the baseball side of the league. If they end up falling short though, the coaches want everyone to know that they will fight until the end leaving everything on the field.
“I’m extremely impressed with the way the boys have been handling themselves during this run. They are great teammates to one another,” Dorsey said. “They have embraced the success with confidence and not cockiness and that goes along way. All of New Britain should be proud of them”