It had been 10 years since Colonie Little League advanced to the regional round of the Little League World Series, and its chances of making it to the Mid-Atlantic Regional didn’t get off to a good start when it lost the first game of the state tournament to Wappinger Falls.
But Colonie wouldn’t be denied. The team came out of the losers’ bracket to win the state title last weekend. Now, it takes another step on the road to Williamsport, Pa., when it begins play in the six-team Mid-Atlantic Regional in Bristol, Conn.
“I think it’s important not just for our team, but the league, the 9-year-olds, the 10-year-olds, the 11-year-olds. Everyone from T-ball up,” Colonie manager Mike McDonough said. “It shows them that if you work hard and you stay the course that good things can happen if you believe in yourself and you believe in each other.”
Colonie opens pool play today at 5 p.m. when it faces Northwest Washington (D.C.). Its second game will be Sunday at 5 p.m. against Toms River (N.J.). On Monday at 5 p.m., Colonie takes on West Salisbury (Md.). Colonie’s final pool-play game will be against Philadelphia’s Taney Youth Baseball Association at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The only team Colonie won’t face in pool play is Newark (Del.) National.
The top four teams advance to the semifinals next Friday. The championship game is Aug. 10.
“We’re thrilled, obviously,” Colonie Little League president Jeff Coyle said. “It’s a great group of kids with great parents. They worked hard, and we’re so thrilled for them. I know we’re all looking forward for the trip to Bristol.”
After earning the state berth by winning the District 3 title, Colonie dropped a 10-7 decision to Wappinger Falls. That put the team on a tough road to winning the state title.
Colonie won its next two games by one run each — 1-0 over Grand Island and 7-6 over East Meadow. Then, Colonie’s bats dominated the final three games, outscoring its opponents, 54-3. Colonie crushed Throgs Neck, 24-2, setting up a rematch with Wappinger Falls. Colonie needed to beat Wappinger Falls twice in order to win the title.
The scores: 15-1 and 15-0.
“In states, we faced a lot good competition,” McDonough said. “We came out and we were a little nervous, a little tight in that first game. Even though we lost, we learned something about ourselves. The two tight games, we showed a lot of heart. We didn’t give in. We stayed the course.
“In the last three games, everyone came through. I can’t say enough about this family here. Every kid had a part in each and every win. We got some great pitching performances, some timely hitting.”
The competition will be even tougher in Bristol. Certainly, the nerves will be there.
“These boys are 12 years old. Not many have left their parents for an eight-to-10 day period,” McDonough said. “For this tournament, they are limited to the interactions with their parents. So, we’re going to rely on the team and the family and our team goals to get by and, hopefully, when this is all said and done, they’re not little boys anymore, they’re young men and young adults, and are proud to be Colonie Little League.”
In the 2004 regionals, Colonie went 3-1 in pool play. But the dream of going to Williamsport ended with a 4-1 loss to Deep Run Valley (Pa.) in the semifinals. . . .
ESPN will televise the semifinals. ESPN2 has the final.