BRISTOL - Throughout the City Series, there wasnâ€™t just a back-and-forth on the scoreboard between the Forestville Dodgers and McCabe-Waters Astros Little League baseball teams. There was also mutual respect being tossed from the Forestville dugout to McCabe-Watersâ€™ side of the field, and vice versa.
No surprise there. Throughout four games in the regular season and postseason, the two programs duked it out to about as evenly matched an outcome as could be expected.Â
That all culminated in an 11-10 victory for Forestville on Thursday night to capture the City Series crown and set off a wild Dodgers celebration near the pitcherâ€™s mound.Â
Afterward, both Astros manager Matt Pirog and Dodgers manager Clay Roberts couldnâ€™t help but praise their opponentâ€™s organization.Â
It wasnâ€™t just respect for how the other coaches run their respective programs. There was respect for the talent on the field.Â
â€śIâ€™m looking forward to all these kids as they go up into high school and into the next level,â€ť Pirog said of both teams. â€śI know my kids are special kids, and Iâ€™m looking forward to seeing them grow as kids and players. I coach some of [the Forestville] kids in other sports. Theyâ€™re all great kids so Iâ€™m looking forward to seeing what they can do at the next level.â€ť
Therein lies one of the most noteworthy items now that the City Series and summer youth baseball in Bristol has officially concluded - just because summerâ€™s over doesnâ€™t mean the talent level is going to stop growing.Â
From Forestvilleâ€™s Aiden Lopez, Hector Rivera-Martinez and Kaden Paghense, to McCabe-Watersâ€™ Tom Pirog, Lincoln Bashaw, Chase Dauphinee, Mason Allen and Billy Zabawa (to name a handful), neither of those teams is short on budding baseball stars.
â€śI canâ€™t wait [to see these kids play in the future],â€ť Matt Pirog said. â€śIâ€™ve seen a couple of them are moving onto fall ball already. Iâ€™ve been watching them play, and itâ€™s great. I canâ€™t wait to see their futures. Thereâ€™s some good, good talent coming up in Bristol on both sides - on the Forestville and McCabe side. Iâ€™m looking forward to it.â€ť
Added Roberts: â€śI canâ€™t wait. Each and every one of themâ€™s ready. Theyâ€™re all ready. Theyâ€™re ready to go to the next level. I look forward to watching them grow, and they will all do extremely well in the future. They really will.â€ť
Itâ€™s possibly, and realistic, that both Dodgers and Astros players will end up playing as teammates in Bristol. But even if they end up playing on Bristol Central, Bristol Eastern or even St. Paul, the head coaches of those programs will certainly be happy to see the likes of those players mentioned above, and others who werenâ€™t listed.Â
â€śI think the high school coaches are gonna be very pleased when they get some of these kids because not only are they talented, theyâ€™re good kids. They listen, and they donâ€™t give anybody problems. They have good attitudes so thatâ€™s their best attribute,â€ť Pirog said. â€śHopefully some of these guys will be playing together at the high school level. If this is any indication of what itâ€™s gonna be like over at Eastern or Central, there are gonna be some really good games.â€ť
No matter what high school program they end up attending, even if itâ€™s not a Bristol school, what this summer and the City Series taught the athletes is how to be persistent, resilient and maybe even a little stubborn in the face of adversity.Â
Both teams throughout their run to the championship game had to fight back from deficits and bounce back when things went awry, and it should serve them well for years to come.Â
â€śItâ€™s gonna teach them to never give up,â€ť Roberts said of lessons gleaned from the City Series. â€śThatâ€™s not just in a sport or in baseball. Thatâ€™s in life. These kids are gonna learn from this experience to never give up. Anything can happen, and in order for you to be successful, you canâ€™t hang your head down, and you canâ€™t give up. You just have to keep pushing and fighting, and the correct outcome will come.â€ť
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com