Shrewsbury 10U baseball team overcomes Westborough to win championship

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Shrewsbury 10U baseball team overcomes Westborough to win championship
Shrewsbury’s 10U team wins the Algonquin Invitational Tournament. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

NORTHBOROUGH – The Shrewsbury 10U all-star baseball team starts each of its practices by working on defense. Ground balls, line drives, double plays, pop-ups – you name it, they’ve spent hours practicing it.

“[Us coaches] probably hit the ball higher than any 10-year-old player is going to hit the ball to them in the outfield. We hit the ball harder than any 10-year-old player is going to hit it to them in the infield,” Shrewsbury Head Coach Michael DiPiazza told the Community Advocate.

On Wednesday afternoon, practice paid off for Shrewsbury. The team’s impressive defense was the difference in its matchup against Westborough’s 10U all-star squad. After defeating Westborough 3-1 at Northborough’s Casey Field, Shrewsbury claimed the Algonquin Invitational Tournament championship.

Shrewsbury 10U baseball team overcomes Westborough to win championship
Shrewsbury’s 10U team wins the Algonquin Invitational Tournament. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

The Shrewsbury offense got to work immediately, utilizing some “small ball” to score the first run of the game. After Tommy Avis was hit by the pitch, he advanced to third base after two passed balls. An RBI fielder’s choice groundout by Ryan Nazarey put Shrewsbury on the board.

Apart from Shrewsbury’s one run in the first inning, the Westborough pitching and defense was excellent throughout the game. Westborough starter Luke Benoit pitched four strong innings of baseball, and the Westborough defense helped keep the game close.

However, Shrewsbury struck again in the third inning. After Mason Callahan placed the perfect bunt and reached first safely, Drew Rossetti – the 13-hole hitter – hit an RBI double that put Shrewsbury up 2-0. In the fourth, Rex Cooper’s two-out double extended the lead to 3-0.

“They’re a really, really good group of kids,” said DiPiazza, noting how well the team works together. “There’s no superstar [on this team]… every kid contributes… They’re focused, and they love baseball.”

Shrewsbury sent Vince Coletti to the mound. Coletti was strong, pitching five innings and striking out seven batters. Westborough consistently put the ball into play – the team outhit Shrewsbury – but the Shrewsbury defense was there when it mattered most.

Coletti didn’t seem nervous to pitch in the title game.

“I was excited,” he said after the game. “It’s fun to pitch in championships.”

Shrewsbury 10U baseball team overcomes Westborough to win championship
Vince Coletti fires toward home plate. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

Westborough came alive in the last two innings and forced Shrewsbury into unnerving situations. After already scoring one run in the fifth inning, Bodey Gardner’s two-out walk loaded the bases for Westborough. The opportunity was there, but Coletti struck out the next Westborough batter to end the threat.

Westborough still wasn’t done. With its back against the wall – just one out from elimination – Westborough brought the winning run to the plate in the sixth inning. However, the batter weakly grounded out, and Shrewsbury won the game 3-1.

“My heart was definitely pounding. I looked down at my watch and my heart rate was 114,” DiPiazza said.

Shrewsbury 10U baseball team overcomes Westborough to win championship
Bodey Gardner slides into second base. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

Though the result was disappointing for Westborough, Head Coach Peter Bouchard said he felt honored to coach such an inspiring and incredible group of young athletes.

“These kids are fantastic. I love coaching them, and they’re all just great kids. It’s 10-year-old baseball. You’re going to win some, and you’re going to lose some. But I just feel so lucky to coach these kids. I can’t wait to do it again next year,” he said.

“Shrewsbury is fantastic and their defense is awesome. They always battle strong and they’re such a great team,” Bouchard added. “Losing to Shrewsbury – it happens.”

Shrewsbury has become somewhat of a little-league dynasty of late. The 9U and 11U teams both competed in championships on Wednesday, and the Algonquin Invitational Tournament represents the second large tournament the 10U team has won this year. The team won in Oxford earlier in July.

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