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West Hartford’s 12U Knights Win Cooperstown Tournament

WHYBL 12U Knights won the Cooperstown Backyard Baseball Classic over Fourth of July weekend. Submitted photo

West Hartford Youth Baseball’s 12u Knights won the Fourth of July weekend Cooperstown Backyard Baseball Classic.

WHYBL 12U Knights won the Cooperstown Backyard Baseball Classic over Fourth of July weekend. Submitted photo

WHYBL 12U Knights won the Cooperstown Backyard Baseball Classic over Fourth of July weekend. Submitted photo

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The WHYBL 12u Knights traveled to Cooperstown, New York over the fourth of July weekend and returned home champions of the 10 team wood bat Backyard Baseball Classic. The Knights won four straight games beating teams from Pennsylvania and New York in pool play before entering the playoff round as the no. 2 seed. The Knights stepped up their game in the playoff round with a 1-0 win over the Boylston Spa, NY Bearcats and then a dramatic 6-5 walk off win over the Montreal Titans in the Championship.

The weekend was more than just playing baseball as the players and families watched the Championship Game at Cooperstown Dreams Park on Thursday night, toured the Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday, played miniature golf and laser tag on Saturday, and took a boat tour of Otsego Lake on Sunday. In between, there was a family BBQ, lots of time in the indoor pool, manhunt, and whiffle ball. Just a perfect weekend all around.

12u Knights Players: Xaviel Amarat, Brian Chelli, Jack Correia, Kaleb Dejesus, Jack Ferrucci, Nathan Gallo, Matt Gelinas, Scott LaBranch, Camden Laney, Anthony Mangini, Jonathan Pedraza, and Anthoney Rodriguez.

12u Knights Coaches: Rob Gallo, Ken Ferrucci, Kyle Jeter, Jack LaBranch, and Steve Mangini.

Knights 9, Philadelpia A’s 1. The Knights broke open a close 2-1 game in the 6th with seven runs to beat the Philadelphia A’s. The game was dominated by pitching and defense early and the Knights were led on the mound by 4 strong innings from starter Cam Laney who allowed just 1 run on 4 hits with 1 walk and 8 K’s. Xavier Amarat pitched a scoreless 5th and picked up the win when the Knights exploded for 7 runs keyed by big hits from Brian Chelli, Amarat (triple), Anthony Mangini, Scott LaBranch, Matt Gelinas, and Nathan Gallo (double). Mangini came in for the save in the 6th.

The Knights offense was led by Laney (2 for 3, run, RBI), Chelli (1 for 2, run, RBI), Amarat (triple, RBI, run), Jack Correia (1 for 2, 2 runs), Mangini (single, run, RBI), LaBranch (single, run, RBI), Gelinas (2 for 3, 2 runs), and Gallo (1 for 2, double, RBI).

Knights 9, Central Amherst, NY 4. The Knights got a great all around team effort to beat a very good and very large Central Amherst, NY team 9-4. The win clinched the second seed for the Knights and a bye into the semifinals on Saturday. The offense was the story early as the Knights mounted a furious two out rally in the 1st led by 6 straight hits from Xaviel Amarat, Jack Correia (double), Anthony Mangini (triple), Scott LaBranch, Matt Gelinas, and Kaleb Dejesus to take a 4-0 lead. Central Amherst cut the lead to 4-3 with one run in the 1st and two runs in the 2nd. The Knights added four more in the 3rd led by a leadoff single from Cam Laney, a walk to Brian Chelli, single from Amarat, RBI bunt single from Correia, and RBI single from LaBranch for a 7-3 lead. The Knights tacked on a final run in the 5th led by a beautiful bunt single from Laney who stole 2B and 3B and scored on a sacrifice fly from Chelli. Correia came on in the 3rd and held Central Amherst to just one run on 4 hits and 4 walks with 6 K’s over 4 innings.

The Knights offense was led by Laney (2 for 3, 2 runs), Chelli (BB, run, RBI), Amarat (2 for 3, 2 runs), Correia (2 for 3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs), Mangini (triple, run, RBI), LaBranch (2 for 3, run, 2 RBIs), Gelinas (single), Dejesus (single), and Jonathan Pedraza (two hard hits). The defense was led by Correia on the mound, Laney at 2B, and Chelli in CF.

Semi-Final: Knights 1, Boyston Spa, NY Bearcats 0. Xaviel Amarat hit and pitched the Knights into the Championship in a great pitcher’s duel with a 1-0 win over the Boylston Spa, NY Bearcats. The Knights scored the only run of the game in the 1st with a leadoff walk from Cam Laney, who stole second and third base and scored on a passed ball. Amarat was masterful on the mound pitching a complete game shutout allowing only 2 hits and 2 walks with 9 K’s. Amarat also led the Knights offense with 2 hits. Anthony Mangini had the only other hit for the Knights and Anthoney Rodriguez was the only other base runner reaching base on a walk. The Knights defense was led by Scott LaBranch at catcher, Mangini at shortstop, Laney at third base, and Kaleb Dejesus at second base.

Championship: Knights 6, Montreal Titans 5. This one was an instant classic as the Knights came from behind in the bottom of the 6th for a dramatic walk off win to beat the Montreal Titans Baseball Club 6-5. The Knights countered the powerful Titans offense with a small ball attack that featured 3 bunt singles and 12 stolen bases. The Knights took a 2-0 lead in the 1st on a walk to Brian Chelli, a dropped third strike to put Xaviel Amarat on, a couple stolen bases and a 2 RBI single from Anthony Mangini. The Titans rallied for 2 in the 3rd to tie it 2-2. The Knights pulled ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the inning led by a bunt single from Cam Laney who stole second and third and an RBI ground out from Chelli. The Titans scored a run in the 4th to tie it 3-3 but Chelli completed a great double play in center with a catch and throw to nail down a Titans runner tagging up to limited the damage. The Knights rallied for another run in the bottom of the 4th led by a bunt single from Mangini who stole second and third base and scored on a passed ball to make it 4-3. The Titans tied it again in the 5th 4-4 amd pulled ahead in the 6th 5-4 but the Knights limited the damage thanks to a great relay from Anthoney Rodriguez to Anthony Mangini to Scott LaBranch to cut down a Titans runner at the plate. In the bottom of the 6th, Amarat delivered a one out single stole second and third base and scored one Jack Correia single to tie it 5-5. Mangini then roped a ball into the right centerfield gap over the diving Titans right fielder and Correia raced around from first with the winning run narrowly avoiding the catcher’s tag at the plate. The West Hartford bench erupted in celebration completing a great tournament against some excellent teams while using wood bats for the first time.

The Knights offense was led by Laney (1 for 2, run), Chelli (BB, run, RBI), Amarat (2 for 3, 2 runs), Correia (1 for 3, run, RBI), Mangini (3 for 3, run, 3 RBIs, double), and Rodriguez (BB). Correia picked up the win in relief of Mangini and Laney as the three pitchers allowed 12 hits but just one walk. The Knights defense was led by strong play from Chelli in CF, Rodriguez in RF, and LaBranch at catcher (who caught all 24 innings in Cooperstown).

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