The Glenview Blaze U12 Black team participated in Cooperstown Dream Park’s Week 7 Tournament. Below is the press release from the Glenview Blaze travel team:
Every baseball fan knows Cooperstown as the Hall of Fame home to our national pastime. A trip there is one that every player might hope for once in their life. But playing there would be something of a dream.
Last month, 12 Glenview boys packed up their bats and headed to upstate New York to grasp that dream.
Their Blaze U12 Black team participated in Cooperstown Dream Park’s Week 7 Tournament, a five-day event which is regarded as one of the elite youth sporting events in the country. For the players, it’s like Disney World on Christmas Eve.
“It was a great experience that I will remember for the rest of my life,” said outfielder and first baseman Luke Smith, a 7th grader at Springman. “It was also cool to be able to trade pins and talk to other players from all over the country.”
After all teams play six games to determine their seeding, the format shifts to single-elimination. Blaze Black made a great run in the tournament with a heralded record of 7-1, earning the team a final ranking of 12 out of 104.
“As the team rattled off one win after another, both the kids and the parents could sense there was something special going on with this team,” said parent coach Scott Smith. “No one knew that these boys had saved their best baseball of the whole year for this one tournament.”
They developed a reputation for having one of the most powerful lineups in the tournament,sporting a team batting average of .460 and scoring over 16 runs per game. They threw two no-hitters over the tournament and stole an average of nine bases per game.
Additionally, the team pounded an astounding 10 homeruns by the final game, three by Patrick Quirk and two by Nick Drimalla, as RBI hit 131 in five days.
“Each player shined at the plate at one point or another in the tournament,” said head coachHerve Mompoint. “To go 7-1 in Cooperstown and play such good baseball takes a team effort.”
Their one loss came against a team from Southern California who heavily recruits and plays baseball year round. They held even most of the game and eventually lost 14-11.
“The Blaze Black team was respectful and carried themselves as professionals,” said parent coach Bob Ciulla. They “believed in each other and played for each other.”
Still, for the team there were many highlights. One in particular was during their second game against the Carolina Thunder, from North Carolina. The game started flat and Glenview was losing 5-1 by the 6th inning with two outs.
“All of the sudden our bats came alive,” said 6th grader Tyler Ciulla of Mt. Prospect, who plays catcher, first base and pitches for the team.
With one out away from their season ending, Blaze Black rallied, refocused and pounded out four runs to tie the game.
“Then Patrick Quirk hit a walk-off, two-run bomb,” said shortstop Danny Pauletto, a 7th grader at Springman. Glenview won the game 7-5.
“The boys stormed the field to celebrate, the coaches hugged each other, the parents in the stands jumped up and down, high-fived each other and some of us were even in tears,” added coach Smith. “It was one of the single best moments in sports that I’ve ever witnessed in person.”
The travel team was formed last August and includes players Max McCormack, Ryan Nevins, Jake Solesky, Connor Sotirchos, Tommy Tsaganos, Liam Tully and David Waldherr. They are also coached by Kris Mompoint.
The top-12 finish was the second time the Blaze program team finished that high in the last three years.
Also competing during the Week 7 tournament was Glenview’s Red Blaze team, who finished 30th with a record of 6-3. All three of their loses were to teams seeded in the top 14 after the pool-play ended.
“To see the smile on the parents’ faces and the boys’ faces after such great wins was the most satisfying and meaningful part of playing in the tournament,” said Mompoint.
Cooperstown Dreams Park has had summer tournaments for 11 and 12-year-old boys since 1996. Each year the tournaments begin in June and continue through August. While there, players are treated like major-leaguers.
“It felt awesome,” said Pauletto, “like I was in the big leagues.”
There’s an opening ceremony similar to the Olympics, with teams marching around the main stadium holding banners. From skills competitions to daily games to the trading of team pins, it’s like being in a weeklong baseball theme park, with each player being one of the lead characters.
“To compete in a tournament like this means a lot,” said Mompoint, “because you are literally five miles from the baseball Hall of Fame where all the greats are remembered.”
At the end of the tournament, each player is awarded the coveted American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame ring – like the champions before them – and granted membership into this distinguished baseball club.
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