Volume 80, Number 8 | July 22 - 28, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

The G.V.L.L. 11-and-12-year-olds tournament team, a.k.a. The Villagers.

G.V.L.L.’ers go on a tear, nearly make the Series

By Roger Ehrenberg and Wayne Kimbell

Notwithstanding its consistently high quality of play, Greenwich Village Little League has never been a regular participant in the Little League of America’s Summer Tournament for 11- and 12-year-olds, which culminates in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

This year was different, however. Not only did G.V.L.L. field a tournament team, but it reached the District 23 Finals this past weekend for the first time in league history.

G.V.L.L.’s opponent — the undefeated Michael J. Buczek Little League of Washington Heights — sustained its first loss on Saturday to a surging Greenwich Village squad, 13-8.

The Village team was poised on the edge of something truly special.

In Sunday’s decisive final game, however, the powerful Michael Buczek squad bounced back and defeated the G.V.L.L. team, 13-4, in the Bronx’s Kingsbridge to take home the District 23 title and securing its trip to the sectionals, while knocking the Village team out of the tournament.

The road to the finals was anything but straightforward for the young Village ballplayers, after having lost their first tournament game, 8-5, to a strong team fielded by crosstown rivals the Peter Stuyvesant Little League. Given the double-elimination format, for G.V.L.L. to win the district, it would have to win six consecutive games after its opening loss to Stuyvesant.

Rather than licking its wounds, the G.V.L.L.’ers went on a tear, winning the next five games in dramatic fashion by a combined score of 65-19. Last weekend the G.V.L.L. squad beat teams from Kingsbridge and East Harlem by scores of 13-2 and 23-5, respectively, then racked up a solid victory against an experienced West Side Little League team, 5-0.

This set up a rematch on Thursday against the team that handed G.V.L.L. its only defeat, Peter Stuyvesant. The Villagers — the name taken by the G.V.L.L. tournament team — decisively avenged their only loss by a score of 11-4. This win propelled G.V.L.L. into the championship weekend and its showdown against Michael Buczek Little League.

The G.V.L.L. squad was essentially an all-star team made up of the league’s Majors American players who had played against each other for years, but never together as a single, cohesive unit. They were led by Manager Carlo Saldana, G.V.L.L. Tournament Coordinator Steve White and Coaches Daniel Miller, Wayne Kimbell, Michael Schneider and Roger Ehrenberg.

The Villagers featured an amalgam of top hitters, accomplished pitchers, sharp fielders and smart base runners. The players included Ben Crowson, Isaac Davison, Andrew Ehrenberg, Liam Goldfarb, Elias Goodman, Julian Harris, Justin Holch, Eli Kimbell, Brandon Ko, Terrence Mallon, Jack Miller, Alec Morea, Harrison Rottman, Max Schneider and Nick White.

Four players on the team hit home runs during the tournament — Ehren-
berg, Kimbell, Morea and White — with Nick White bashing four home runs during G.V.L.L.’s run for the championship.

There was standout pitching by Ehrenberg, Miller, Kimbell, Rottman and Mallon.

Few believed that such a nascent G.V.L.L. tournament initiative could yield such spectacular results, but reigniting this program has been in the works for quite some time.

Steve White, the league’s tournament coordinator, said, “Over a year ago, when Daniel Miller and I started figuring out what it would take to put together a tournament team, we never contemplated success on the field like we’ve had. Adding this enhancement to an already successful baseball and softball program that serves around 800 girls and boys in the Greenwich Village community could not have been achieved without the support of everyone in and around the community.

“From the parents, to the G.V.L.L. coaches, to Tobi Bergman and the coaches at the P3 baseball program at Pier 40, we simply could not have done it without them,” White said.

Added Manager Saldano, a 15-year G.V.L.L. veteran, “This team had class. They represented Greenwich Village and G.V.L.L., and every one of them has been a great ambassador for our league.”

Incoming G.V.L.L. President Daniel Miller said, “These guys were just hanging out with their friends and playing old-fashioned baseball — the kind of baseball they learned to play in G.V.L.L. We’ve had tremendous support from the community as a league and extra-special support from the wonderful baseball program run at P3 — and the results speak for themselves.”

While the players and coaches did their best to bring a District 23 championship banner to J.J. Walker Field, this year’s strong showing was merely a prelude. For G.V.L.L. and its tournament program, the best is yet to come.

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