IT WILL be an all-Greater Manchester championship game in the city today when Bedford and neighboring Goffstown meet for the New Hampshire Little League Baseball District I Majors Division championship.
The teams are scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. at Manchester Central’s Gill-Harris Field, with Bedford needing a victory to force a second game on Sunday. Goffstown, which beat Bedford 18-8 in the winners’ bracket final on Tuesday, will advance to the state championship with a win.
Manchester Central president Sally Dreckmann expects more than 300 fans this afternoon.
“As the host president, I’m hoping Bedford wins so we can have a second championship game on Sunday,” she said. “I bid $1,200 to host this tournament, and by Saturday we should break even. Another game on Sunday would allow us to make some money, which would be a plus.”
Dreckmann said the league generates money through its concessions stand and 50/50 raffles.
Regardless of whether there’s a district championship game on Sunday, Gill-Harris Field will remain busy the next few weeks. Beginning Monday and continuing through July 28, Central will host the Michael Briggs Memorial Wooden Bat Tournament for players ages 9-12. That tournament will share the complex with the Little League District I tournament for 10- and 11-year-olds, which starts July 19.
OVER A SPAN of 63 years, the all-stars representing Manchester Babe Ruth Baseball League’s age 15-under division, known today as the Tom Woodlock League, have won 41 state titles, participated in 11 World Series and won a national championship — in 1976 at Pueblo, Colo.
The Woodlocks hope to add another chapter to their impressive legacy when Manchester hosts the 2014 New England Regional Babe Ruth baseball tournament Aug. 2-7 at Gill Stadium.
Most of the team played for last year’s Mickey Hanagan All-Stars, who made it to the age-14 Babe Ruth World Series at Moses Lake, Wash.
“I really like our chances of getting back to the World Series, especially since we’re hosting the regionals in our backyard,” said Gary Ulbin, the Manchester league’s director.
The all-star roster includes Riley Denver, Jason Derome, Nicholas Duhaime, Nathan Hall, Kyle Jutras, Declan Knieriem, Eric Langley, Drew Merrick, Matt Reynolds, Jonathan Robinson, Nicholas Salcito, Joey Silva, Nick Sullivan, Brian Sutton and Pat Swanson.Mickey Hanagan will manage the team, assisted by coaches Peter Bissonnette and Jamie Belanger.
“I like the makeup of the team, which has a good balance of offense, defense, pitching and team speed,” said Ulbin. “Because our league is hosting the regionals and our kids are sleeping in their own beds, I’d like to think it’s an advantage for us.”
Last year, Manchester hosted the age-13 regionals at Gill Stadium, but both the host Lebels and state champion Bedford were eliminated early. Manchester lost its first two games, and Bedford won just once in the double-elimination format.
Ulbin is hoping the scenario plays out differently this summer.
“When you lose your local teams early in the tournament, it affects the attendance, and we didn’t draw many people after Bedford and Manchester were eliminated,” said Ulbin. “I’m anticipating a bigger crowd this year, just because we have high school-aged kids playing in the regionals. More people tend to show up because it’s a better brand of baseball.”
The bidding fee to host a regional tournament is $3,000, and Ulbin is hoping to raise money to defray that cost.
“We’re holding our sixth annual Manchester Babe Ruth golf tournament on Friday (July 18) at Derryfield Country Club, and there’s still some openings for foursomes,” he said.
Anyone who would like to participate in the benefit golf tournament can call Ulbin at 860-2966.
Meanwhile, support is coming from other local sources.
“Goldenrod will be furnishing food for our concession stand during the regionals,” Ulbin said. “Despite the tough economy, people in our community continue to help out any way they can.”
The Woodlocks will participate in the state tournament, beginning July 19 at Michele Park in Salem.
Ulbin said there weren’t enough kids in the league this season to field a 14-year-old Hanagan All-Star team. The Lebels opened their district tournament this week in Goffstown at Allard Park.
LOCAL umpires scheduled to work the regional Babe Ruth tournament include umpire-in-chief Phil Croasdale, Gary Simpson. Jack Caron, Chuck Wiggin, Tom Fischer and Gary Noyes.
“We’ve got the same crew back from last year,” said Ulbin. “The regional directors were extremely happy with the crew. They’re all very good umpires.”
THE Greater Manchester Pony League is hosting the 13-year-old Regional Tournament at the Pony Field on the corner of Maple and Auburn streets this weekend. Defending champion New Bedford, Mass., is here, along with teams from Albany, N.Y.; and the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Along with the host team, all are trying to earn a berth in the Zone Tournament, to be held at Cranberry Township, Pa., next week.
FORMER Trinity High of Manchester ace and current Nashua Silver Knights reliever Carmen Giampetruzzi visited the city’s North Little League to talk with and pitch to the league’s 11-year-old all-stars.
According to the team’s coach, Patrick Smith, who also happens to be Trinity’s dean of students and director of admissions, Giampetruzzi showed up unannounced for an 8 a.m. practice.
“Carmen was a Little League all-star at North in 2008, and he shared his thoughts with the team about what it was like to be an all-star,” Smith said. “Here’s Carmen, about to attend Boston College this fall, and he takes the time to come out and spend some quality time with the kids. He’s just a special person.”
LUKE Bonner said he was thrilled to learn of his impending induction to the Manchester Catholic High School Hall of Fame, to take place Saturday, Nov. 8, at Trinity High’s McHugh Gym.
“It’s a tremendous honor, and Trinity is a special place,” said Bonner. “The timing couldn’t be better because my 10th-year high school reunion will also take place this fall.”
Bonner, the starting center on Trinity’s basketball teams from 2000-04, was a first-team all-state selection his last three seasons and the New Hampshire Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior and senior.
“The whole time at Trinity was a positive experience,” Bonner said. “When I look back, I remember the epic battles we had against Central, especially playing them at Southern New Hampshire (University) in front of a big crowd. Playing at the McHugh Gym is special, too. You walk into that gym, see the ‘Pride, Spirit, Tradition’ sign, and you know your part of history. It’s tough to beat.”
“City Sports” is published Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at firstname.lastname@example.org.