Another summer - and another successful baseball season in the New Providence Green League – for not one, but for two highly competitive U11-B teams, Cranford Gold and Cranford Blue. Although the boys in this age group are split between the two teams, both of them managed to capture their divisions, and in the process, incredibly, earned the number one and number two seeds for the tournament.
Each May, division tryout coordinator, James Shriner organizes a fun and instructional two-day tryout, after which the teams are selected. Thirty-six boys attended the tryouts, and once again, thanks to the Cranford Baseball and
Softball League Executive Board, three teams at this age level, an A team and the two B teams, were supported.
Cranford Gold, managed by Tom Korzeneski and coached by Ron Patterson, Pete Coates, and Kevin Cuddihy, completed their championship season, losing only three times on the way to capturing the West Division title. The highlights of the season were the many come-from-behind wins. On June 29th, Gold was down 8-0 to Long Hill and scored 14 unanswered runs for the victory. Gold was down 5-0 to Queen City on July 11, before pulling out a 12-9 win. In the regular season finale, Gold trailed 6-0 to Watchung before they took the lead 11-6 when they got thirteen straight guys on base.
Maybe the signature win for Cranford Gold was on June 18th when they completely overwhelmed a very good and eventual #4 playoff seed, Florham Park team, by the score of 13-4.
“All in all, these kids never panic when they are down. They always think they
are going to come back,” Coach Kevin Cuddihy said. He added, “Experience helps, too, for all of them. Down 11-2 early and 14-9 after 5 at Union last season, we won 15-14.”
The eight wins earned Cranford Gold the division title and the number two seed for the playoffs. Gold will conclude their season with a game at Newark Bears Stadium.
Cranford Blue, managed by Vince Caputo, finished with ten victories and outscored its opponents 159 to 74. Blue started off the summer season 4-0 with dominant wins against Watchung, Queen City, and North Plainfield before a hard-fought 7-4 win at Florham Park, a game dedicated to recuperating Coach John Snover, who constantly reminds the boys to take nothing for granted in baseball and in life.
Cranford Blue’s most impressive win was a 6-0 victory over East Division runner-up and playoff finalist, Clark. Thomas Gilmartin and Matt Savino combined on Blue’s only shutout of the summer. A running catch in centerfield by Jimmy Coleman started a double play and set the tone for the game. That win came in the midst of what Coach Dave Acocella called, “our defining week,” a stretch of four games against high quality opponents. A day after a 12-4 victory over the Gold team on July 9th, came a 13-1 drubbing of Somerset Hills, highlighted by Matt Savino’s long homerun to right-center.
The victory over Clark on July 12th was highlighted by Steven Shore’s two hits, two RBIs, and a steal of home. It was followed the next night by a 15-3 win over Mountainside, keyed by Vincent Caputo’s towering blast into the trees in left and Denver Martz’ running catch in centerfield to end an early threat.
Blue added an out-of-division game against Chatham. The game featured a stirring comeback by Cranford Blue and finished in a 13-13 tie. It was played on a larger 50/70 field in order to begin to prepare the boys for what they will face as 12-year-olds next summer: baseball with leading, pickoffs, and balks.
Blue’s final two wins of the regular season were against Queen City and Long Hill by a combined score of 32-4. The Long Hill victory clinched the East Division Championship and earned Cranford Blue the number one seed for the post-season playoff.
Cranford Blue pitchers, Thomas Gilmartin, Matt Savino, Andrew Dolan, and Denver Martz, held opponents to 6.6 runs per game. They recorded 109 strikeouts while issuing 73 walks. Thomas Gilmartin led the team in innings pitched, victories and strikeouts.
Coach Steve Shore shared that he was quite impressed by “Matt Savino’s nine-inning hitless streak, and overall, how he allowed just nine hits and struck out 42 hitters in 19 innings." The catching trio of Vincent Caputo (15 hits, 15 runs, 12 RBIs), Conor Halpin (15 hits, 20 runs, 26 stolen bases), and Jimmy Coleman (12 hits, 12 runs, 12 RBIs) provided good defense and lots of offense, to the delight of hitting coach, Rich Gilmartin.
This summer, Cranford Blue also increased its power. Three boys hit homeruns:
Vincent Caputo (who hit two, including a grand slam in Cranford Blue’s win over the Gold team), Matt Savino (12 hits, 15 runs, 15 RBIs), and Thomas Gilmartin (19 hits, 16 runs, 18 RBIs). Game-changing outfield plays were made by: Jimmy Coleman, Denver Martz (9 runs, 5 RBIs, 1.64 ERA), and Steven Shore (10 hits, 11 runs, 10 stolen bases). Solid infield play was provided by: Dan Acocella (20 hits, 18 runs, 14 RBIs), Andrew Dolan (20 hits, 18 runs, 16 RBIs), Tommy Delmour (11 hits, 10 runs, 11 RBIs), Jacob Snover (13 hits, 8 runs, 7 RBIs), and David Simpson (6 hits, 7 runs, 10 walks).
Cranford Blue team leaders included:
• Hits – Dan Acocella and Andrew Dolan (20)
• Runs – Conor Halpin (20)
• Doubles – Thomas Gilmartin (7)
• Triples – Conor Halpin, Thomas Gilmartin, Dan Acocella, Matt Savino, Denver
Martz (1 each)
• Homeruns – Vincent Caputo (2)
• RBIs – Thomas Gilmartin (18)
• Stolen bases – Conor Halpin (26)
• Walks – David Simpson (10)
• Dan Acocella led the team in both batting average and on-base percentage
Success wasn’t limited just to the B teams. Congratulations to the boys on the U11-A team and to manager, Scott Swanson, on an excellent summer of tournament ball.
Special thanks to Bob Bruns and Kevin Wetherall of the CBSL, to Joe Norton for the scheduling of the fields, and to Karyn Delmour for seeing the snack stand was open and staffed for every game. The coaches also wish to thank the parents for sharing their sons and for giving up much of their family time. Without these people and many others, successful summers like the ones experienced by the three U11 teams would not be possible.