EXETER, N.H. — The Groton Cal Ripken U10 Massachusetts state champions went unbeaten through both the district and tournament fields, but they met their match this past weekend at the New England Regional Tournament in Exeter.
Groton had a chance to win in all three tournament games it played in.
Despite being from a town of 10,000, when some of the other towns are pulling from multiple communities, it hung tough. How?
Because the Groton boys believed in themselves.
“It was a pretty good tournament,” Groton manager Bill Glencross. “In both games we had the tying run on second base in the bottom of the sixth — we could have won both games.
“It was a great run for these kids. In the game we won 5-1 against Montshire Vermont, the team was comprised of eight towns. That’s like picking the top kids from each town in the Macintosh League. We really held our own in the tournament.”
Groton broke even in runs allowed and runs against at four-per-game.
The maroon and white had the opportunity to advance out of pool play Monday night against Andy Valley, Maine, but a couple costly errors in the sixth inning caused Groton’s glorious season to come to a close.
“When myself and the other coaches talked to the guys from Andy Valley they said they hand-picked the 11 kids they wanted to bring to the tournament,” Bill Glencross said.
“We are this little town, and we were no question, the smallest team there.”
According to coach Glencross, Groton out-pitched all of its opponents with the one-two combination of Nate Glencross and Will Dagle.
Teams from area Cal Ripken programs like Marlboro and Hudson, called coach Glencross to voice their support for the Groton 13.
No one, not even their own coach, could have predicted that a group from a rural North Central Mass. town, who made no roster cuts, could make the regional round, let alone give some of the larger leagues in New England a run for their money.
Coach Glencross refused to go with the same lineup each night, he wanted all of his players to experience what it felt like to have his name echo through the speakers on one of the biggest stages in youth baseball.
It is a philosophy Bill Glencross has practiced during the regular season and playoffs.
“I could have played my best nine, but I didn’t,” he said. “I told my parents that I am going to try and get everybody in at least once. It’s competitive baseball, but we tried to get everybody in.
“I wanted everyone to have a positive experience to remember. We had Exeter on the ropes, but we couldn’t finish. I knew I was in for it yesterday because the center fielder made a fantastic diving catch. It could have been on SportsCenter.”
Glencross and the coaches learned some valuable lessons from the players.
One player in particular, Jake Miller, took some great advice from his brother. Miller’s brother, according to coach Glencross told him to help his team any way he could because eventually his time will come.
Miller strapped on a batting helmet, and recovered bats from the batter’s box, because he felt it was best for the team.
Groton, like many teams, had a couple of star players and a whole cast of role players.
When the final out was recorded, the boys from Groton were understandably upset about being knocked out of Regionals, but coach Glencross had one final message for his team.
“I think making it this far is a great accomplishment,” coach Glencoss said. “Exeter and Cranston-Lincoln, R.I. are still undefeated.
” I didn’t think we had a real chance to win the whole thing, but I did want each kid to have great memories of the season — and, I think they all do.”