Somers 11U Boys Squad Sticks Together to Win GHVBL Championship
Somers Team Keeps Its Head Up from Top to Bottom
With a 7-6 victory over second seeded South Orangetown on June 2, Somers 11U Red Storm won the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League Championship. The success came on the heels of a season long “Spartan” mantra that demanded team first and always sticking together, according to Head Coach John Barbagallo. But no matter the level of team cohesion, adversity can cause a breakdown, and Somers faced such a moment in the fourth inning of the semifinal game versus Briarcliff.
Down 3-0 to the one seed, the kids started pointing fingers at themselves and each other, so Barbagallo picked up the flank. “That’s not going to fly here, and it better stop,” the coach recalled his intervention.
Back in Line
The 12 man team took the grounding, and soon enough, the conversation changed. On the other hand, momentum still had Somers trailing 5-4 in the sixth. “Matt Mignardi hit a line drive off the pitcher to tie the game,” said Barbagallo.
Somers then held fast by keeping it in the family. “Briarcliff has these two really nasty lefties,” said Barbagallo, and his southpaw-throwing son John struck out both.
The deadlock ensuing until the eighth, California Rules placed a runner on second and positioned the son to shine again. John Barbagallo’s infield hit moved Bret Kennedy to third, and Lorenzo D'Ambrosio sacrifice fly gave Somers a 6-5 lead.
Red Storm would take a two run lead into the bottom of the inning on John King’s RBI single, and Barbagallo closed out the victory on the mound. “A thriller,” beamed Coach Barbagallo who also praised the timely hitting of Dino Barlanti, Dillon Kuckinsky and Dean Palazzolo.
Clutch pitching from Barlanti, King, D'Ambrosio and Mignardi didn’t hurt either. “They really toed the rubber,” said Coach Barbagallo, whose boys came in seeded 4th with a 4-4 season record.
But victory didn’t have Barbagallo forgetting the team’s earlier transgression. “Baseball is a game of failure, and to be successful, mental toughness is required,” he sternly reminded them afterwards.
No Time for a Layover
The boys were going to need it just on the turnover. “We won at 6:30 on Saturday and had to play at 9 AM on Sunday,” said Barbagallo. “It was a tall order for the kids.”
So an early rise had Red Storm on the short end again. But this time, the boys didn’t get down after they trailed 3-0 after three. “We scored seven runs in the last three innings,” said Barbagallo, who shares coaching duties with Sal Mignardi, Steve D’Ambrosio and Dean Barlanti.
Two of those came trailing 6-5 in the top of the sixth. John Barbagallo led off with a single, and after stealing second and third, D’Ambrosio’s sacrifice fly set up John King to capture the crown. “John got the game-winning hit, and his strike out closed the game with runners on second and third,” said Barbagallo.
Cooperstown Is Calling
The victory may not yet have the boys looking ahead to next year’s trip to Cooperstown, so Barbagallo is already out front. All twelve sets of parents going out to dinner recently, the head coach reiterated the team first message. “It starts at the top with the parents,” Barbagallo conveyed his message.
But sticking together doesn’t mean everything takes place inside the lines. “Aside from being crazy baseball parents, we all like each other, we all get along and hang out together,” said Barbagallo.
In turn, the example allows the players to follow their parents’ lead. “It trickles down to the kids,” said Barbagallo.
Not necessarily showing up in the boxscore, the Shenorock resident is also grateful to have a line on a much more important aspect of the team’s four year journey together. Their understanding, their commitment and how much they grow as people and baseball players,” concluded Barbagallo, “That is special as a coach to watch.”
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