AVON — For most Little League baseball teams, the season is complete when your team is eliminated from the state tournament.
Players from Avon’s Major Division All-Star team (ages 11-12) got in some bonus play earlier this month when they completed at Cooperstown (N.Y.) Dream Park tournament. Avon, which nicknamed the team the Laser Show, went 6-2 and advanced to the round of 16 in the single-elimination portion of the tournament that had over 104 teams.
Cooperstown Dream Park hosts tournament for 12 consecutive weeks. Teams can face competition from across North America, participate in a skills competition and learn about Cooperstown, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
It’s a festival of baseball. Teams march into the Cooperstown Dream Park facility during opening ceremonies that feature a parade and skydivers. Players trade commemorative pins with players from other teams, tour Cooperstown and visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.
And they play plenty of baseball. Avon had doubleheaders scheduled on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Avon finished 13th in the field of 104 teams to earn a spot in the round of 16 but the Laser Show was eliminated by a team from California, Team Kado Elite Waves, 7-4.
The team, which was made up of 10 boys from Avon and three from Canton, had to adjust and play on a larger, 50/70 intermediate field. Traditional Little League dimensions have the pitching mound 46 feet away from the plate and the basepaths are 60 feet. In Intermediate 50/70 play, the pitching mound is 50 feet away and the basepaths are 70 feet.
Runners were now allowed to lead and steal bases meaning pitchers had to hold runners on base.
It’s an intermediate step for baseball players, who traditionally move to the major league-size diamond next – 60 feet to home plate and 90 foot long basepaths.
Avon beat teams from Texas, Michigan, North Carolina, Massachusetts and New Jersey to earn a spot in the single-elimination portion of the tournament. Avon’s lone loss in pool play was a 12-11 slugfest in eight innings to Head Hunters from California in eight innings. Avon scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game and send it into extra innings.
In the round of 32, Avon beat HBF Maroons of Michigan, winning 5-4 after giving the opposition a 4-0 lead after two innings. Due to the weather, the game didn’t begin until 10:45 p.m.
Avon didn’t catch a break with its contest on the round of 16, facing Team Kado Elite Waves early the next morning. Avon led 4-0 after four innings but the heat and exhaustion caught up to the Laser Show and Team Kado scored seven unanswered runs to eliminate Avon with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
In the tournament, Avon had 12 of their 13 players pitch and the team hit 31 home runs in eight games over five days. Despite just two weeks to train for the 50/70 Intermediate rules, Avon hurlers had just one balk called on them. The Laser Show did manage to pick off two runners in the tournament.
TEAM ROSTER: Nick Amatulli, Charlie Biskupiak, Emmett Borenstein, Josh Burke, Frankie Flaherty, Danny Galliher, Ben Hole, Matthew Leopold, Dylan Love, Colby Nemarich, Tyler Nyberg, Andrew Pedersen, Adam Santoro
Avon Laser Show results
Pool play (Week 10, 2016)
Avon 5, Double Blue Sox AAA (Texas) 1
Head Hunters (CA) 12, Avon 11 (8)
Avon 16, Motor City Griffins (MI) 5
Avon 18, Ho-Ho Kus Bombers (NJ) 0
Avon 14, Show Baseball (MA) 0
Avon 17, Kings Mountain Storm (NC) 3
Single elimination tournament
Avon 7, HBF Maroons 4
Team Kado Elite Waves 7, Avon 4 (round of 16)