The Capital District is going to be well represented at next week’s Babe Ruth World Series in Clifton Park.
Besides the host team, Guilderland has qualified for the 13-year-old division championship series after winning the Eastern New York state title last month. Niskayuna – which lost to Guilderland in the Eastern New York finals – was two wins away from earning the Mid-Atlantic Region title when it played Tuesday.
All of this was welcome news to Clifton Park manager Matt Frey.
“Guilderland and Niskayuna are two of the best teams that we’ve faced all year,” said Frey. “They’re better than some of the 14-year-old division teams that we’ve faced in preparing for this tournament.”
Because it’s hosting the World Series, Clifton Park couldn’t play in any of the official Babe Ruth tournaments. So, Frey had his team play in a travel league and against older division Babe Ruth teams.
“They’ve matured quite a lot as young men and as baseball players,” said Frey.
The 15-man roster was created from a pool of 60 players that signed up last fall. Frey whittled that list down to 20 players last winter and made his final cuts before the spring season began.
“The first round of cuts was easy because I was emotionally detached,” said Frey. “But when I cut it from 20 to 15, that was one of the hardest things I had to do because I had worked with them all winter. Unfortunately, Babe Ruth only allows you to carry 15 players [for the World Series].”
Frey – a 2005 Shenen-dehowa graduate – had his hopefuls train at All-Stars Academy in Latham through the winter months. In the run-up to the World Series, though, he’s put his players through two training sessions a day. He has them work in the batting cage at All-Stars Academy in the morning before holding full-field practices in the evening at Clifton Common – the site for the World Series.
“They will be the most prepared team in the field, I can guarantee you that,” said Frey.
The field also includes teams from baseball hotbed states such as Texas, California and Virginia – places where children can play the sport all year. Clifton Park’s bracket features Southwest regional champion Eagle Pass, Texas; Ohio Valley champion Jasper, Ind.; New England champion Cranston, R.I.; and Pacific Southwest champion Tri-Valley, Cal.
“Our goal is to win our bracket,” said Frey. “But even if we can go 3-1 or 2-2 [in pool play] and not give up a lot of runs, that will be OK because it gets us into the next round of the tournament.”
The Babe Ruth World Series begins Thursday, Aug. 18, with a skills competition and a banquet featuring guest speaker Vida Blue. Pool play begins Friday, Aug. 19, at Clifton Common and carries on through Tuesday, Aug. 23. The quarterfinals take place Wednesday, Aug. 24, with the semifinals scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 25, and the championship game slated for Friday, Aug. 26.