When the KAU Kings won the Eastern Regional Championship last season and advanced to the Senior League World Series, parents, coaches, and friends told them to be happy just to be there.
Apparently Unionville High School senior Ryan Barrett thought a twice-in-a-lifetime trip to a World Series would be better.
Barrett allowed four hits on the mound to lead the District 28 Big League All-Stars to a 5-0 shutout over District 1 Champion Delaware in Dover, Delaware Thursday night and advanced to the Big League World Series once again.
The 2014 Chester County squad of 18-and-Under All-Stars leaves Monday for Easely, South Carolina to compete against 10 other teams from the United States and around the world. Players from KAU, Caln, Coatesville, and Avon Grove all will represent the Eastern Region of the U.S.
“I just threw strikes, tried to keep the ball in the strike zone the whole game, and keep the other team off-balance,” said Barrett, who was named the game MVP. “I wanted to work through all my pitches and having (catcher) Eric Duerr back there (behind the plate) helped. He knows exactly how to call a game.”
Manager Mike Robinson, who’s coached baseball for 20 years and 15 years at KAU, is making his first trip to a World Series. Last year, the 18U District 28 team fell one game short. He summed up Barrett’s championship game performance simply.
“He’s a pitcher’s pitcher,” Robinson said. “He’s not a thrower.”
District 28 scored first when Sean Faux of KAU led off the game with a single. He advanced on a base hit by Caln’s Brian Greist and scored the first run on a wild pitch.
Barrett got out a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the first after giving up two singles to the first two Delaware batters.
Cruising right along, six innings later, he gave up the only other two hits of the night. District 28 added another run in the fourth when Dave Villafane of KAU doubled and scored on another Delaware wild pitch. In the fifth, the 28 All-Stars chased Delaware’s starting pitcher from the game.
Caln’s Brian Corrigan and Brian Griest along with KAU’s Philip Matranga and Sean Faux all singled to plate two runs. The District 28 All-Stars scored the final run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Faux.
The team squandered a bases-loaded opportunity as Delaware converted a triple play to end the inning.
After the customary dousing of the manager, Robinson deflected his happiness to the young men who will make the trip.
“It’s really special to be in this position,” Robinson said. “It shows what the District and particularly KAU are trying to do to build outstanding programs. I’m thrilled for our league and believe our getting back to the World Series has to do with the outstanding support of our Board.”
But Robinson was realistic in his assessment of the team’s chances.
“This is big time baseball,” Robinson said. “We’re going to be a little young. Our team is most 17-year-olds and will be facing teams with mostly 18-year-olds.”
Some of the 2013 Kennett Kings reflected on their rare opportunity to return to a World Series.
“We know what to expect,” Barrett said, “And that experience will help the new players. I’m looking forward to meeting the international teams again.
“We can’t get used to it, although we are grateful for the chance,” said Alex Pechin. “It doesn’t matter who’s on the team, we’re going to have fun and play our best.”
The Eastern Regional Champs will leave for Easley, South Carolina, Monday at 3 p.m. In addition to the team members who participated in the Senior League World Series last season are: KAU’s Sean Faux, Dave Villafane, Matt Foster, Phillip Matranga, Justin Hall, Caesar Asadi; Caln’s Brian Greist and Brian Corrigan; and Avon Grove’s Elliott Ford and Zack Swank.
For the members of the team who went to Bangor, Maine for the Senior World Series last year—Pechin, Duerr, Barrett, Tucker Reese, Chris Tucker, and Eric Takhousian—they can assure their teammates that a Philadelphia to Charlotte flight might be a highlight of the trip to the World Series.
The hour and 40 minute direct flight to the Charlotte Airport sure beats a 16-hour bus ride to Bangor.