|Love Fuels Pittsfield Babe Ruth 13s' Run to World Series Semis|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires.com Sports|
06:00AM / Thursday, August 18, 2022
|The Pittsfield Babe Ruth 13s on Wednesday practice at Hermitage High School in Henrico, Va.|
HENRICO, Va. — On Thursday night, the Pittsfield Babe Ruth 13-year-old All-Stars will get down to business.
On Wednesday afternoon, the mood was light as the squad held what is sure to be its last full practice of the season.
They kidded one another about their shoes, they reminisced about past games and past tournaments, someone came up with the notion of reviving old Little League dugout chants for Thursday's World Series semi-final, but that idea did not get much traction.
They were, for perhaps the last time in this current incarnation, the tight-knit sports family that has pulled together to achieve great heights in a game devotees call "the ultimate team sport."
"It's been super fun," outfielder Eddie Ferris said of the team's 11-1 tournament run, counting the Western Massachusetts and New England Regional Championships. "We've all bonded together. We made lifelong friends. I mean, I don't think I'll ever forget anyone on this team.
"We've just hung out the whole time and had a lot of fun."
On Thursday at 7 p.m., Pittsfield look to keep the fun going for one more day when it takes on Fargo, N.D. On Wednesday night, the Midwest Plains Regional Champions defeated Manassas, Va., 3-2, in the first round of bracket play.
Pittsfield had to rely on its team unity in a big way in Tuesday's win to clinch a top seed in the bracket and a day off from games on Wednesday.
One day after getting no-hit in its first loss of the all-star season, Pittsfield had just one hit — an infield single — through three innings and was down 1-0 to the Northwest Regional Champions from Wilamette Valley, Ore., on Tuesday.
"We all just picked each other up and made sure we weren't going to do this again," Ferris said. "And we all just fought through it.
"We thought about all the practices, all the hard work we put in, and we just thought: We've got this. We went through regionals, and we can do this."
Pittsfield's manager admitted things were looking a little dicey going to the fourth inning on Tuesday, but the team stayed together and confident.
"We had, I think, two or three balls that [the stadium scorekeeper] called hits but they were tweeners, either way that didn't really leave the infield," Ben Stohr said. "So we were thinking, 'Man, even though we've broken through the hits, we're still hitting them right at guys.'
"But we stayed pretty confident throughout. … One of the times we came off the field, we said, 'One run's not going to beat us.' Even though we got blanked [Monday], we still scraped runs across. We just kind of reset and stayed the course."
The close connections between the Pittsfield players are evident to the team's closest observers, the parents who followed them to Connecticut for the regional tournament and Virginia in search of a national title.
On Wednesday, one of those parents said it's the kind of team where you'd want your son hanging around with any of the other players and, "They're all good influences on each other."
Another parent, Robert Gyurjan pointed out that there is not a hierarchy on the team.
"[Sam Gyurjan] is the youngest on the team, and he's a reserve and so far he only has gotten up to bat once," Robert Gyurjan said. "But his spirit — he just helps all the kids. He helps the team to keep the spirits going and maintain that atmosphere.
"And nobody treats him any differently because he's not playing all that much. It's a great group of kids."
By all accounts, an unforgettable group to be a part of.
"It's a great experience for all of us," Ryan Stannard said after taking a turn in the batting cage on Wednesday. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, especially playing with these kids. It might not be the same team next year. So getting to be with all these kids this week and getting to know them over the past summer has been really great for us.
"We talk a lot in the dugout. We all love each other. You can see my voice is lost. Yeah, we al love each other."
iBerkshires.com's coverage of the Babe Ruth World Series is sponsored by General Dynamics.