NEW CANAAN, Conn. The New Canaan Cal Ripken League 12-year-old All-Stars have grown a lot over the last three years playing together. As 10-year-olds, the team finished fifth in the state tournament. Then as 11-year-olds, the team qualified for the New England tournament with an at-large bid.
Now, at the highest level of Cal Ripken baseball, New Canaan made a huge leap. The 12-year-olds won their district title and then swept their way to a state championship. The team continues its journey on Saturday in the first game of the New England regional tournament.
Theyve come a long way, especially since they were 10-year-olds, New Canaan manager Chas Abate said. Its great to see them grow. The 12-year-old season is kind of like the senior season of the youth level. Its usually the most fun you can have at this level and this group is really enjoying it because theyre playing some great ball.
New Canaan has been nothing short of dominant so far in the post season. The team went undefeated in district and state play, winning seven straight games to reach the New England tournament.
New Canaan has had a penchant for coming up big in the clutch throughout the tournament, using offensive explosions in one inning to take control of games. The most dramatic example came in the state winners bracket final, when New Canaan scored 10 runs in the bottom of the fifth to erase a nine-run deficit against New Milford.
This group just doesnt give up. They know what needs to be done to win, Abate said. Weve put the 10-spot up there. We scored six runs in one inning in the [state] championship game. Once the bats get going they seem to get going.
New Canaan begins its next challenge on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Newtown. The team takes on Upton, Mass., at 1 p.m. in the double-elimination tournament.
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