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2014 8u All Star Team

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Manager, Geneo Savoca going over the game plan. (photo by Kathy Finlan)

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Getting pumped before a game in Rome. (photo by Kathy Finlan)

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District Champs! (photo by Kathy Finlan)

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Celebrated as District Champs by the Valley Cats in August 2014. (photo by Kathy Finlan)

First hand account by board member and parent, Rich Currao

The 2014 South Colonie Raiders qualified to play in the 8U Mid Atlantic Regionals in Rome/Utica, NY. This tournament is recognized among Cal Ripken Baseball as the equivalent to Little League’s World Series.

The journey began in early June when a 3-day tryout was held. 12 spots would be filled with the best 8U players our small area had to offer.

The Raiders first test was at the District 1 Tournament. With an impressive field that included perennial power houses like Niskayuna, North Colonie and Spring (Troy, NY). They rolled off an impressive 5-game win streak and captured the District 1 Title. This allowed them to advance to the NY State Tournament as District Champions.

Our boys fought hard in State pool play, went 4-0 and earned a bye in the Championship bracket. After storming out to a 3-0 record and with a trip to the Regionals on the line; they found themselves pitted against the Northern District Champions, Saratoga-American in a “win or go home” game. Fate did not appear to be on the Raiders side early on as they trailed 3-0 in the 3rd inning. Realizing that this could have been the end of the line the bats finally woke up after some steady defense calmed everything down. They went on to win 8-3 in a game that finished far closer than the final score indicated. A victorious jubilation filled the field as the boys began a call and response chant of, “Where we going?!?!” to which the reply was a triumphant, “UTICA!!!”

The Raiders arrived at the Mid Atlantic Regionals in Rome, NY to face off against teams from New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland. In the end, the condensed game schedule proved to be too much on our Raiders tired pitching staff. The bats held strong, while the faithful still cheered, but their young arms had already given all they could.

The 2014 8u South Colonie Raiders magical run ended on a humid Friday afternoon in Rome, NY. But from the ashes and tears what was born was so much bigger than any victory they could have achieved. Lifelong friendships were galvanized among school mates. Pride in community and neighbor was restored among a generation of adults where such an ideology has been left to die on the vine. But above all else, the love of America’s past time was resurrected here in South Colonie. Baseball is no longer America’s #1 sport, and in the communities its enrollment dwindles each year due to the popularity of Soccer and Lacrosse. However, because of this amazing experience, these outstanding 12 boys will always choose baseball…..

“…..And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.” – Field of Dreams

The team was later celebrated in the local Spotlight newspaper, Times Union and the Valley Cats in a game in late August. It was a great summer for this team and their families. Certainly one they’ll never forget.