Gloucester 12U team punches regional ticket

by Peter J. Teagle - Posted on Jul 10, 2019 - 01:16 PM

Photo: Gloucester Youth Baseball’s 12U team went a perfect 3-0 over the past weekend to win its age group at the Babe Ruth Leagues of Virginia Inc. state tournament, held in Glen Allen. Coaches and players for the team include, back row from left, Coach David Shield, Coach James Shackelford, Coach Chris Walker, GYB President Brian Eamigh, Coach Brian Decker, Coach David Bragg; middle row, Austin Decker, Carter St. Claire, Joey Foley, Tyler Jackson, Noah Bragg, Chase Carson, Austin Shackelford; front row, Dean Hoercher, Grayson Shield, Colter Callis, Hunter Meland, Landen Meland, Colby Walker, Caden Stokes and Hayden Simmons. Photo courtesy Keith Ray Stokes

Gloucester Youth Baseball’s 12U team went a perfect 3-0 over the past weekend to win its age group at the Babe Ruth Leagues of Virginia Inc. state tournament, held in Glen Allen. Coaches and players for the team include, back row from left, Coach David Shield, Coach James Shackelford, Coach Chris Walker, GYB President Brian Eamigh, Coach Brian Decker, Coach David Bragg; middle row, Austin Decker, Carter St. Claire, Joey Foley, Tyler Jackson, Noah Bragg, Chase Carson, Austin Shackelford; front row, Dean Hoercher, Grayson Shield, Colter Callis, Hunter Meland, Landen Meland, Colby Walker, Caden Stokes and Hayden Simmons. Photo courtesy Keith Ray Stokes

Photo: Colter Callis, Caden Stokes, Hayden Simmons and Tyler Jackson, from left, in the dugout during this past weekend’s state tournament.

Colter Callis, Caden Stokes, Hayden Simmons and Tyler Jackson, from left, in the dugout during this past weekend’s state tournament.

The members of the Gloucester Youth Baseball 12U baseball team left no doubt that they were the Babe Ruth League State Champion this past weekend as they throttled their competition by double-digit margins in every matchup of tournament in Glen Allen.

The young sluggers will now advance to the regional tournament, where they have the opportunity to punch their ticket to the Cal Ripken League World Series.

Gloucester enjoyed a first-round bye before taking on Glen Allen, which it promptly shut out on Friday by the score of 10-0. The home nine then advanced to take on Arlington, which had soundly defeated Lakeside, 6-1, in the first round.

Though Arlington was able to plate five runs, it was soundly defeated by a strong showing from the Gloucester offense in a 16-5 rout on Saturday. Arlington won the consolation bracket and earn another shot in the title game but again incurred a loss, this time by a score of 12-1.

Grayson Shield was named tournament MVP and, per assistant coach Brian Decker, was a major contributor to the offense. “Grayson was just clutch,” Decker said. “He did what he needed to do hitting the ball where the other team wasn’t.”

On the mound, Austin Shackleford nearly shut out Arlington, allowing a lone run and throwing a complete game. “He just completely dominated from the mound,” Decker said.

From here, the team will advance to regionals which are held in Fredericksburg beginning July 17. Teams from across the southeast, including Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and both Carolinas will travel for the tournament. Though the structure of this tournament (double versus single elimination) is not yet known, the winner will advance to the Cal Ripken League World Series to be held in California.

“We’ve got to dominate in order to get to California for the Cal Ripken World Series,” said Decker, “but I think our chances are good.” The assistant coach pointed to the district tournament performance as evidence that the team can overcome adversity.

Gloucester actually lost its first game in the districts to Williamsburg and knew that, if it did make the title game, it would need to defeat Williamsburg twice to advance. Gloucester ended up meeting Williamsburg again in the title game, winning the first matchup to force a tiebreaker.

“It was one of the best games, little league or college, that we’ve ever seen,” said Decker. “It was a 0-0 game going into the bottom of the sixth.” Gloucester loaded the bases and drove in the winning run to advance to the state level, where they would go on to dominate.

“As far as where we go from here, I think our chances are great,” said Decker, “these kids have just come together so well … they’re starting to know each other to the point of knowing what each other is going to do in certain situations.”

Decker said he felt the team was cohesive and has the right mindset to achieve victory. “There are no players on this team who think they are more valuable than the others, and at this level that’s just a great thing.”