Jamestown All-Stars Prepping For Regional

Marshall Tantillo of the Jamestown All-Stars participates in a “hot box” drill during a practice at Bergman Park earlier this week. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

Last weekend, the Jamestown Babe Ruth All-Stars stood near home plate and unfurled a banner that read “13-year-old State Champions, Western New York.” By virtue of that state title, they punched their ticket to the Mid-Atlantic Regional, which will be held next week in New Jersey.

Assistant coach Tom Fisher, who has been involved in youth sports for 30 years, hasn’t wiped the smile off his face since.

“It’s one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had coaching kids,” he said earlier this week as the players ran through a practice at Bergman Park. “It’s fun to coach, be the underdog and win.”

Manager Vidal Colon and assistant coach Mike Navarro agree.

“I’m just thankful to be here with the guys,” said Navarro. “We try and get these guys to compete at a high level and they’ve shown that they can.”

Juan Matos of the Jamestown 13-year-old All-Stars prepares to throw to first base during a practice earlier this week at Bergman Park. The team will be playing in the Mid-Atlantic Regional next week. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

Who knew?

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When the team was first assembled, Fisher wasn’t sure how far the playoff run would go. After a week of practice, however, that all changed.

“We got them to believe in themselves,” Fisher said. “We played the Erie Steelheads travel team (in Jamestown) on July 3, and we lost to them by two runs, but they started believing in themselves a little more, because (Erie) was 27-2 and in a travel league.”

A week later, Jamestown played the Steelheads in Erie and the former prevailed, 10-7.

“And they started believing in themselves a little more,” Fisher said. “By the time we got (to the state tournament), we really believed we were going to win.”

After a first-round bye, Jamestown played Mathewson-McCarthy and jumped in front by 10 runs going into the bottom of the fifth.

“We had to change pitchers because of pitch-count and we had a problem with walks and they caught up to within four of us,” Fisher said. “Then it got dark.”

The game was suspended and the two teams returned at 10 the next morning.

“We went back and in the top of the sixth we scored another seven,” Fisher said. “They scored one in the bottom of the sixth and we won, 22-11.”

The second game followed immediately and after six strong innings on the mound from Marshall Tantillo, Mason Chapman closed it out, giving the local all-stars a state championship and a road trip to Somers Point, New Jersey next week.

“My expectations are for the kids to go out there and have fun,” Colon said. “Second, is to represent. Win or lose, you should be proud of yourself. They give me 100 percent, and that’s all I can ask. I’m proud of these guys.”

The roster includes Chapman, Tantillo, Juan Matos, Julian McGaughy, Nick Miraglia, Nate Torres, Colin Melendez, Caleb Bane, Alex Latone, Michael Boron and Joey Palermo.

Last year’s 13-year-olds won one game in the regional, which was also held in Somers Point, and lost three — all by one run.

“We’re hoping we’re going to do as well as that,” Fisher said. “Our goal is to be the first team out of Jamestown to win two games. The ultimate goal would be to win it, (but) we’re going to run into some talented teams.”

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Navarro is a 2002 Jamestown High School graduate, a young man who was always one of the area’s better ballplayers growing up. However, when it came tournament time each summer, he returned to the Bronx where he played for, and later coached with, his father.

The Kingsbridge Knights have a pretty impressive resume.

In fact, they played in Cal Ripken 12-and-under World Series in 2009 and 2012 where they finished fifth and third respectively.

To say that Navarro is passionate about the game would be an understatement.

“We try and get them motivated,” he said.

Fisher said Navarro does that, and then some.

“I’m really impressed with Mike Navarro’s ability to coach kids and motivate them,” he said. ” … You can see Mike learned a lot from his dad. He’s a high-energy guy. … When he talks to these kids at the end of practice, it’s just mesmerizing. He talks fast — sometimes you have to slow him down — but he really motivates. He gets them to believe in themselves.”

The Jamestown All-Stars are scheduled to have pool-play games at noon Tuesday and Wednesday next week, followed by games at 3 p.m., July 27 and 9 a.m., July 28. The single-elimination portion of the tournament begins Sunday, July 29 with a regional champ determined by Monday, July 30.

“I thought there was a chance (to get to this far),” Colon said. “They’re a good bunch of kids. I believed in them.”

NOTES: Fundraising efforts are underway to help defray the cost of the trip. They include a 50/50 raffle at the Jamestown Jammers game tonight; and tag days at WalMart in Lakewood from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday; and a car wash, bake sale and can drive at Raymour & Flanigan, 1001 Fairmount Ave., Jamestown on Saturday. Cans and bottles can also be redeemed at Don’s Car Wash at 184 E. Fairmount Avenue in Lakewood and at Southside Redemption Center at 752 Foote Ave., Jamestown.