PROSPECT — It’s not every day that a 12-year-old gets to pitch in such a fabled venue as Cooperstown, N.Y., home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s even more unheard of that his coach is a former New York Yankee.
Prospect’s Kyle Searles experienced his own field of dreams this summer when he played in Cooperstown baseball tournament under the tutelage of former Yankees slugger Shane Spencer.
Spencer broke onto the major league scene in September 1998 and took New York by storm, belting 10 homers, including three grand slams, in only 67 at-bats. That earned the slugger a spot on the postseason roster, where he helped the Yankees three-peat as world champions from 1998-2000. His big league career came to an end in 2004 as a member of the New York Mets.
Searles is a slugger in his own right, belting eight home runs in the Prospect Little League for — who else — the Yankees, who won the league championship this year. Following the season, the Prospect pitcher and catcher signed up with the Cheshire Red Storm travel team.
“It was pretty cool playing for coach Spencer,” Searles said. “There were a lot of tough teams up there and I met so many players from different states. The fields were pretty nice to play on. We gave them a go at it. I did pretty well pitching as my dad and my coaches really helped me.”
The Red Storm got off to a rocky start when it arrived on June 23. Cheshire lost the first two games to teams from Alabama and Georgia before erupting with a 12-2 win over a team from Florida.
Searles kept the momentum going as he tossed a complete-game win over the Rochester (Mich.) Recruits as the Storm piled on a 14-2 win to even its record.
Cheshire defeated the Kentucky Blaze, 8-3, and finished pool play at 3-3 following a loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Red Storm began single-elimination tournament play on June 27.
Searles took the mound and fired a complete-game shutout, defeating the Orion (Mich.) Chargers. Later in the day Cheshire was eliminated by a team from California to finish the 104-team tournament with a 4-4 record.
John and Janet Searles couldn’t be prouder of their son after his two complete games in the Cooperstown tournament.
“It was such a thrill for the kids and the parents as well,” Janet said. “The kids stayed at the baseball camp so they could get to know one another. There were teams from as far away as Hawaii and Canada. They really do a great job putting on this tournament.”