12U All Stars are state champs

NORTHFIELD - The Manchester Youth Baseball 12U All Stars made history last weekend, claiming their first state championship since joining Cal Ripken in 2009.

Led by Jack Lane's two run homer in the opening game of the tournament on July 5, Manchester defeated Northfield 9-3. Later in the day Manchester went on to beat four-time defending champion Hartford 6-5 with a single by Charlie Citron in the top of the fifth that scored two runs to seal the win for Manchester.

Behind Chandler Pouk's three hits - one of them a fourth inning home run - Manchester defeated Lake Region 6-2 in the final day of the tournament on Sunday to take the state title.

The win put the All Stars into the Regionals that will begin on July 19 in Raynham, Mass.

"We open up versus Western Massachusetts who we actually beat when we opened up against that same team in the 2012 10U Regional Tournament. So, that should be exciting," said coach Darrin Senecal.

The team is no stranger to this level of competition. A bulk of the team competed at the Regional level two years ago as members of the 10U team. Only two members of this year's 11 member squad did not play at the Regional level in the past. Three have been to the Regionals three times and about a handful have been there on two occasions.

"They've done it before so they know what's coming. So, it should be exciting for us," said Senecal.

There will be seven other teams competing in the Regionals along with Manchester from the states of Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island as well as three teams from Massachusetts - Eastern and Western Massachusetts along with the Raynham Massachusetts team.

Though Manchester will be facing some teams with players who were chosen from considerably bigger talent pools, Senecal said he believes the team will fare well in the week-long tournament.

"I expect us to perform well. In the 10Us we won a game. I expect to win two games down there, maybe three," said Senecal. "It wouldn't be a shock. It's not going to be easy. I mean there's some tremendous competition down there from the likes of Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts.

"Our program [has] just gotten better and better and better and our kids have just gotten better and better and better. It's exciting. So, we're fired up. It should be fun," he said.

The All Stars first game in the tournament against Western Massachusetts takes place on Saturday, July 19, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Manchester's roster includes Brandon Burns, Citron, Carson Cutler, Austin Gras, Lane, Joe McCoy, John Morgantini, Pouk, Casper Rowe, Giancarlo Russo and Ethan Senecal.

Follow on Twitter @BrandonCanevari


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