Thirteen reasons for trip to World Series

Trumbull’s 14U team gathers at Glen Allen Stadium after arriving in Virginia for the Babe Ruth World Series. New England champion Trumbull will play Middle-Atlantic champion Hamilton (N.J.) in its first game. Team members (front row) are: Brandon Buda, Ray Leonzi, Jake Gruttadauria, Jack Allen, Sam West and 11U All-Star and team bat boy Lee Sowers; (second row) coach Andrew Cavanagh, John Morello, Andrew Harvey, Chase Dralle, Matt Bagley, Ryan Teixeira, coach Tyler Feldman, Christian van Zyl, Jackson Vicente and manager Mike Buswell.

The Trumbull Babe Ruth 14U baseball team will compete for the Babe Ruth World Series title this coming week in Glen Allen (Va.) and manager Mike Buswell’s club is embracing all that entails.

“To still be playing baseball in August is amazing,” Buswell said. “There aren’t many teams still playing meaningful baseball this late in the summer. Our kids have been playing together for a long time now. They have been there for each other through thick and thin, I am just really happy they are being rewarded for their play by experiencing such a first class World Series.

“From the moment we got off the plane and the local news stations were recording at the terminal, to checking in at World Series headquarters, you can just see the buzz around Glen Allen.”

New England champion Trumbull (31-7) will play Middle-Atlantic champion Hamilton (N.J.) in its first game in the eight-team tournament.

“We were battle-tested,” Buswell said of going through the New England Regional unbeaten (6-0). “We won a couple great games early against some really high-level competition. I thought that gave us a lot of confidence.

“These things never come easy. All weekend long this was probably one of the most competitive New England Regionals we’ve ever been a part of. I really thought deep down that any of the teams could win it.”

Buswell, who is assisted by coaches Andrew Cavanaugh and Tyler Feldman, broke down the 13 components that carried Trumbull to its first World Series since 2011.

“We’ve been blessed with players who know what it takes to play baseball and be great teammates,” he said. “Eleven of the players are back (from the 13U state-qualifying team) and we had two players join us this summer.”

Sam West: “Sam plays with a quiet confidence and shows tremendous poise. He gives us great flexibility by pitching, playing third, first, or extra hitter. Sam moved here from California last summer and is a huge piece to the puzzle this year. As a pitcher he was credited with the save in three of our six regional wins, while also throwing a complete game in the regional championship to send us to the World Series.”

Chase Dralle: “Chase is also new to the team this year. He has given us versatility by being able to pitch or play outfield. He is also one of our most dangerous base runners. He is a pleaser by nature and listens well and soaks up everything the coaching staff throws at him.”

Andrew Harvey: “Andrew has been the ace of the pitching staff for two years now, and one of the most coachable players that we’ve ever had in our program. Regardless of the opponent, our whole team knows we have a great chance to win the game when the ball is in Andrew’s hand. He also swings a confident bat, is a late game defensive replacement, as well as key situational hitter off the bench.”

Matt Bagley: “Matt has really grown and matured into a well-rounded player. Matt gives us flexibility in the field and great punch at the end of the batting order. His ability to drive in runners from his spot in the lineup has been a back breaker for opposing teams.”

Jake Gruttadauria: “Jake is a throwback player and reminds me a lot of his father Chris, who was a gritty athlete and local sports icon in his own right growing up in Derby. Jake brings a Valley toughness that can be much appreciated. We preach a certain blue collar mentality and Jake fits that mold perfectly. He is our everyday shortstop. We strategically bat Jake tenth, because he does a great job of turning the lineup over. He is a lefty hitter so he’s often asked to pull the ball to get runners over, take pitches, lay down bunts, or drop in the occasional suicide squeeze.”

Jackson Vicente: “It has been a pleasure to watch Jackson grow into the baseball player that he’s become. Jackson is our starting catcher and number three batter. I can’t tell you how many times Jackson has stepped to the plate and produced big two-out hits. His ability to produce in pressure packed situations this summer is a major reason why we are headed to the World Series. A vocal player, he is a team leader not just on the field, but also off the field.”

Ray Leonzi: “Ray is our table setter and one of the best baseball players that we’ve had over the years. Ray loves the big stage and welcomes a good challenge, something I’m sure the World Series will present us. He is our leadoff batter, everyday centerfielder, and also one of our main pitchers.”

Ryan Teixeira: “Ryan has been a major part of this team since it’s inception. He has worked extremely hard over the offseason to be a key pitcher as well as position player (first base). Ryan is a talented player, but his success on the field is also a direct tribute to his work ethic. He bats in the middle of the lineup and is continually asked to drive in runs and provide quality at bats.”

Brandon Buda: “Brandon has been a very instrumental piece to our puzzle. He has statistically been one of the top hitters on our team in many categories over the years. This regional alone he provided clutch momentum changing hits in the quarterfinal, semifinal, and championship game. He is our starting third baseman and also serves as our clean up hitter. Brandon works extremely hard at his game and you never need to worry about him short changing himself with preparation.”

Christian van Zyl: “Christian takes the game of baseball very seriously and works very hard at it. He has matured into one of our better hitters and has enjoyed success at the plate for us. Christian is our everyday EH (extra hitter) and bats sixth in the lineup. He has been an RBI machine and is looked upon to drive in runs from his position in the lineup.”

John Morello: “Johnny is one of our main outfielders. He brings a great attitude to the field and is viewed in a very positive light by his teammates and coaches. His versatility allows us to play him in left field or right field. Outfield play has been a big part of our team success, and Johnny is one of the players who deserves credit for that.”

Ryan Carroll: “Ryan is the ultimate team player and great teammate. He is very mature for his age. I think that helps him with dealing with pressure packed situations, especially when he’s pitching. Ryan is always willing to do whatever is asked of him to help the team win, it could be starting pitching, relief pitching, or situational hitting with the bat. He is a very bright kid who sees the game and opponents tendencies very clearly.”

Jack Allen: “Jack is a steady player who understands all of the little ways to help your ball club win. He always comes to practice or games with a chip on his shoulder to get better. He is the everyday second baseman and bats second in the lineup. Jack is often asked to take pitches, hit behind runners, and sacrifice runners over. He does a lot of things in the course of the game that do not necessarily garner personal headlines, but result in team success.”

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