It’s on to the 2022 Babe Ruth World Series in Virginia for Lynn’s 15-year-old All-Stars after completing a perfect 5-0 run through the New England Regional Tournament.
The Lynn contingent, managed by Leon Elwell and coached by Rich Avery, John Peterson, Kyle Candelieri, and Bob Gratiano, claimed the regional crown after edging the Connecticut (4-1) and Vermont state champions (7-5) in the semifinal and finals, respectively, Tuesday in Keene, N.H.
All told, Lynn is 12-0, winning all seven of its games in Massachusetts tournament play before beating New England’s best in some very hot weather in the Granite State.
The victory is particularly sweet when you consider that many of the Lynn players were members of last year’s 14-year-old team that lost a heartbreaker in extra innings to Maplewood (Fall River) in the Massachusetts state championship game. This time around, Lynn avenged that loss to Maplewood in the state tournament.
A Lynn Babe Ruth 15-year-old team last qualified for the World Series in 2016. Leon Elwell was the manager of that ballclub as well.
Pitching, Defense Were Key Components
As with any championship baseball team, pitching and defense were crucial factors and Lynn received excellent performances in both departments.
Josh Doney, Lynn’s ace left-hander, has a 6-0 record with one save in tournament play. He struck out 43 batters in 29 innings on his way to a sterling 1.20 earned run average.
Chris Marks was 5-0 on the hill, while Matt Lewis had one victory. Jared Paone and Jake Peterson each recorded two saves.
Kyle Cummings has emerged as an outstanding catcher for the Lynn contingent.
“Kyle has been rock solid behind the plate,” said Coach Rich Avery.
Shortstop Christian Figueroa and second baseman Jaiden Driscoll, and first basemen Richie Avery and Shea Newhall have been a part of a stellar infield defense that turned five doubles plays in the New Englands.
Outfielders Alex Lara, Seth Sullivan, and Gilly Galva are lightning fast and have been Jackie Bradley-esque in getting greats jumps on baseballs hit to the outfield.
A Timely Offensive Attack
Lynn’s offense has been potent and perhaps, more importantly, clutch in middle-to-late-game sitiuations when a key base hit makes the difference.
Jaiden Driscoll has complied the team’s highest batting average, hitting a robust .450. Chris Marks is also in the prestigious .400-plus club at .409 to go along with a team-leading 13 runs batted in.
Cleanup hitter Matt Lewis (.350), Seth Sullivan (.333), and Kyle Cummings (.333) have also made things difficult for opposing pitchers. Shea Newhall was on a torrid streak in the New England Regionals, hitting close to .400 with five runs batted in.
Nick Marks, who is Chris’s twin brother, has brought speed off the bench and has helped in the unheralded role as the bullpen catcher.
The Journey Began in June
The road to glory began in June when the league’s coaches selected the 15 All-Star players who would be representing the city in tournament competition.
The final roster consisted of 10 players from Lynn, four from Revere, and one from Everett. The Lynn players are graduates of the Wyoma, Pine Hill, West Lynn, and East Lynn Little League programs.
According to Coach Avery, the players have worked hard, jelled as a team, and brought 100 percent effort to practices and games while always demonstrating hustle on the basepaths.
The Unsung Hero has Been Mr. Jeff Earp
Everyone associated with the New England championship team agrees that Lynn Babe Ruth President Jeff Earp has once again stepped up for the program and the youth of Lynn.
“Jeff is our No. 1 fan,” said Coach Avery. “He would do anything for these kids, and the kids love him. He’s such a big supporter of Lynn youth in general. The guy hasn’t had a kid in the league for years, and he’s at the field here every night, talking to the players, asking about their academics – he’s one of those guys that are all in for the Lynn youth.”
Also earning praise has been Earp’s colleague and friend, Dave Raymond, who is one of the league’s field custodians.
“It’s a long season keeping the grass cut and the fields looking good,” said Avery. “John [Peterson] and I did a lot of draining stuff this year, so the fields [at Bowser Complex] have been looking really good this year.”
Tournament Field is Set
Lynn Babe Ruth will be one of 12 teams competing for the World Series championship. The other teams in Lynn’s American Division bracket are: Ohio Valley, Pacific Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, the host Stafford, Virginia team, and China. The National Division teams are: Southeast, Pacific Northwest, Big West Plains, Southwest, Bridgewater N.J., and the Virginia state champions.
Teams will play four intra-division games in pool play, with the top three teams from each division advancing to the single-elimination rounds. The games will be live-streamed.
The team will leave by bus for Virginia on August 10 and begin play in the World Series on August 13.
The team is fundraising for the trip in a volunteer effort being led by team parents Jill Avery and Yasmene Driscoll.
“They’ve been awesome,” said Mr. Avery. “We have to raise about $20,000 for travel, housing accommodations, and food.”