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Local players make good at Cooperstown tourney

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Bayside Little League players Julius Wells and Emanuel Duran recently traveled to Cooperstown to play in a baseball tournament that fielded 64 teams from all over the United States. The two players competed on the Long Island Lightning baseball team coached by Manuel Duran.

The tournament was played in the Field of Dreams Complex that contains 14 Little League fields, which were immaculately kept, from the perfectly manicured grass to the red clay modeled after most major league fields.

The seven-day tournament, which opened with an introduction of all 64 teams in a grand parade, which included a parachute-jumping exhibition that ended with a jump into the middle of the field complete with smoke streamers and the jumper carrying the American flag.

During the children’s stay, each team was assigned their own barracks and each player was issued two uniforms, one home uniform and one away, complete with socks and belts. Dreams Park also provided their meals.

Each team member was given trading pins with their team logo to trade and collect with the other teams, which turned out to be a big deal for these kids, who also made friends with boys from all over the United States. Wells and Duran were not expected to do as well as we did.

Julius Wells had a great series. He pitched and played first base and in the outfield and did a great job offensively at the plate. Duran played stellar at shortstop and had a spectacular on base percentage.

The playing format varied depending on the team’s draw, but the Lightning played one, sometimes two games a day. On the final day the team played four games, the first at 10 a.m. and the last playoff game starting at 6 p.m., which turned out to be the last game.

The playoff format was you play until you lost and the Lightning did well, but lost to a powerful California team.

Over the course of the tournament, the Lightning beat Tri-Township Pennsylvania, 9-3, lost to La Crecenta California, 8-0, fell to the New Hampshire Diamond Dogs, 7-2, and topped the Connecticut Storm, 4-3, a game won in final at bat with Emanuel Duran pitching three strong innings.

The Lightning then lost to the California Knuckleheads, 9-6, lost to Pembroke Lakes Florida, 12-3) and fell to Gaithersburg Sports Association, MD., 17-5, before the playoffs started.

In the team’s first playoff encounter against the Youngsville Heat from New Hampshire, Wells pitched the final three innings and did not give up a run and allowed one hit en route to an 8-2 win. later that same day the Lightning edged the Connecticut Storm, 2-1, before falling to the San Diego Falcons, 6-2.

On the final day each child had their name called and was presented a sterling silver hall of fame ring in the middle of the field. Later that evening the tournament hosted the championship game on the same field. The Championship game pitted the No. 1 seed and eventual winner San Diego Bulldogs against sixth seed Chicago North Side Stars.

The game was played under the lights and was preceded by a spectacular fireworks display.

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