With the Little League World Series wrapping up recently, and yet another U.S. team taking the crown, now is a good time to review how the 2011 season fared for the various Monroe youth teams. Overall, it was a successful season for the locals, with several teams either appearing in a regional tournament championship or winning the tournament outright.
Monroe Little League President Keith Crosby was a fixture at ball fields all across town, and he heaped praise upon the coaches who led their teams to battle. Below is a synopsis of the highlights for the summer of 2011:
An All-Monroe Affair
The summer got off to swinging start, as Monroe placed both of their teams in the Juniors Little League District 2 Championship game. After dropping their first game to Easton, ADPSC Monroe Black ran the table for the duration of the tournament, capping off their journey with a decisive 9 to 1 victory over town mates Karch Electric Monroe Red.
Crosby was the winning coach, and Chris Lindquist continued a stellar performance throughout the contests by hurling a masterpiece, and adding an RBI double in the 3rd inning.
"They played how we taught them all year, which is smart baseball," Crosby said after the game. "Twenty-one wins is a testament to that."
It was quite a captivating story line to have both local teams, ranked #1 and #2 coming into tournament play, meet up at Wolfe Park with the trophy on the line.
"We’re proud of these kids," added Monroe Red coach Rob Jarnutowski. "Monroe came in as the #1 and #2 seeds, and we were both in the winners' bracket. Hats off."
Monroe 9s Nearly Slay Goliath
On July 16, the Monroe 9s nearly pulled off an incredible feat: Knocking off three powerhouse visiting opponents and seizing the championship trophy of the Monroe Little League Tournament. Unfortunately, Fairfield National had other plans, downing the hosts at Beardsley Field.
After eliminating previously-undefeated North End and Trumbull, Monroe rode an inspired wave to the deciding game and seemingly, a date with destiny. Although they did not bring home the hardware, the play of the locals invoked a sense of pride with many around the team.
"I've been involved with this league for eight years, and this is the first time Monroe ever made it to this game," Keith Crosby said after the game. "I'm proud of you guys."
Jared Kumar supplied Monroe's only hit, as he and Josh Wittenberger provided solid offense and pitching throughout the tournament.
Monroe's coach, Brad Van Gemert, offered encouraging words for the future of Monroe baseball after the game. "I look at this as a start of good things for Monroe baseball," he said. "This is the start of great things for these kids."
Monroe U9 Squad Speeds Down I-84, Picks Up Trophy
As close as the 9s came to capturing the Monroe tournament title, the Monroe U9 travel team completed a dominating performance in the I-84 League Tier 2 Tournament. The locals used a balanced offensive and defensive performance in flattening New Milford in the championship game, 9-2.
After losing 5-4 in their opening game in the tournament, the locals ran the table en route to the ultimate victory. Monroe Manager Frank Fedeli appreciated the heart his players showed, despite some early adversity.
"It was the culmination of a long summer where the boys showed a lot of improvement," Fedeli remarked afterward. "They proudly represented Monroe and the Monroe Little League."
Monroe 12s All Stars Take It To The Valley
Finishing out the summer on a winning note, the Monroe 12s All-Star team would never taste defeat in claiming the 2011 Derby Valley Tournament. Their opponent, Ansonia, was game but ultimately fell to the local squad 9-8. Monroe finished up with a perfect 6-0 record.
Monroe coach Matt Prutting approved of his team's performance. "Winning this tournament has tremendous meaning to these boys," he said. "This championship is the culmination of tremendous effort and sacrifice by these boys and their families. It is something really special to go out as champions. They proudly represented the town of Monroe and Monroe Little League."
Jack Rose pitched a respectable game for the win. Rose had a great summer, as he was also named to the All Tournament Team for the District 2 All Star Tournament.
Monroe's star at the plate for the Derby Tournament was Joey Porricelli, who launched three home runs and drove in 13 on his way to being crowned the tournament MVP.
Prutting was very complimentary and grateful to both his assistant coaches, as well as the parents of his players.
"They were very supportive and encouraging," he said afterward. "This would simply not be possible without their dedication and sacrifice."
So as the memories of a summer of baseball gradually give way to the awaiting gridiron of autumn, the future of Monroe Little League appears bright. Championships at several different age levels will attest to that. Now more than ever, it seems as though Masuk's stars of tomorrow are roaming the ball fields of Wolfe Park and Beardsley Field today. The summer of 2012 should be a treat for fans of Monroe Little League.