Black Sox win regional tournament
WATERBURY — The great Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.”
The Overlook Black Sox proved that point last Thursday in the opening round of the North Atlantic Roberto Clemente Regional Tournament at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury.
The AABC Roberto Clemente 8U state champions headed into the dugout trailing by what seemed to be an insurmountable deficit as the Brooklyn Bonnies erupted for eight runs in the bottom of the first inning.
The Black Sox shrugged off the pressure and mounted a comeback to close the gap to 9-7 heading into the top of the fifth. With nerves of steel and a determination that showed the true character of the team, Overlook stunned the Bonnies with a game-changing, 10-run outburst. The Black Sox scored all of the runs with two outs in the inning.
When the smoke cleared the Black Sox had smiles on their faces as wide as the baseball diamond. Overlook was out in front 17-9. Brooklyn managed a run in the bottom of the frame, but couldn’t overcome the invincible Black Sox as Overlook went on to a stunning 17-10 win.
Once the Black Sox began to believe in the dream the tournament was over. Overlook ran the table defeating the Secaucus Phenom last Friday 4-2, then handed the Brooklyn Blue Storm a 10-4 whooping in the second game of the afternoon.
Overlook got by the Hawthorne Axemen 5-0 on the final day of the tournament to set up a rematch with Secaucus in the title game.
The Black Sox exploded to a convincing 14-6 victory to win the North Atlantic Regional title. Overlook went 5-0 in the tournament and scored a total of 50 runs, 18 runs better than the second place team.
The Black Sox will head to McDonough, Ga. to play in the Roberto Clemente World Series July 23-27.
“This is a dream come true not only for the kids but the entire coaching staff and the parents,” head coach Orlando Ortiz said. “This journey began two years ago when this team as 6-year-olds became the first 6U Overlook team to qualify for the state tournament in 17 years.”
Last year the team won the state championship but finished third in the regional tournament.
“When the coaching staff of Mike Brown, Darren Gasparri, Mike Minervino and myself got together for the winter workouts we knew these kids had a never-give-up mentality,” Ortiz said.
So facing a massive deficit in the first game of last week’s tournament was of no concern to Ortiz or his team.
“When they came into the dugout down 8-0 in the first game they looked up at me and I knew right then and there they believed in the dream. It was a very emotional game for me as this is my last year. I will be retiring and moving my family to Florida. So to have something like this take place is a dream come true for everyone involved with this team,” Ortiz said.
There is a large local presence on the team that went 25-1 in the regular season.
Ortiz is from Naugatuck along with his son Jeremy and players Mikey Deitelbaum and Braden Russell. Darren Gasparri, Michael Strachan and Tyler Gibson, all of Prospect, were instrumental in the team’s run to its second straight state championship.
When the chips were down the Black Sox rose to the occasion as most championship teams do. Trailing the Brooklyn Bonnies 8-0 Ryan Ponte came on in relief allowing just one run over the next three innings as Overlook began to chip away. The Black Sox plated three runs in the second with Gasparri ripping a two-run double to score Ponte and Tyler Blumetti.
Another three-run outburst in the fourth, fueled by a two-run double from Ponte, got Overlook a little closer at 9-7. But the Black Sox were not done just yet. They came up with five run-scoring hits all with two outs in the fifth to put 10 more runs on the board.
Mike DeRosa led it off with a double. With two strikes Jeremy Ortiz was not going down without a fight. He clubbed a run-scoring single to left. Jonathan Diogostine came on to pinch run and represented the tying run. Deitelbaum walked and Ryan Hammarlund unloaded a two-run double to put Overlook on top 10-9. Strachan reached base after getting hit by a pitch and Ponte unloaded another two-run double.
Gasparri later blew it open with a bases-loaded triple. Logan Brown put the final touches on the win as he sent a two-run homer over the left field fence. The Black Sox spilled out of the dugout to give Brown a well deserved back pounding.
Brooklyn had a few more shots at it. But coach Ortiz shored up his defense bringing in Braden Russell, Trace Johnpiere and Nate Northrop, with Russell hauling in a sinking line drive to left to take away a big hit from Brooklyn.
The World Series dream is alive and well for Overlook.
The team is seeking donations to help defray the cost of the trip to the World Series. Donations can be made online at www.gofundme.com/bhtp64.