Upstart PBA Tops Cosmos Club in All-Sports Baseball Majors Championship
The All-Sports Baseball Majors league is made up of fourth through sixth graders.
After finishing the regular season with a losing record, PBA, an All-Sports youth baseball team of fourth, fifth and sixth graders, came together for a dramatic playoff run that culminated Wednesday night with a 7-6 victory over the Cosmos Club in the Majors League championship.
"When the Fair Lawn Baseball Majors season started," assistant coach Benny Salerno said after the game, "we knew we had something special."
The team started the season slowly, each game a work in progress, but over the course of the year PBA steadily improved and gelled just in time for the playoffs.
"PBA team, as a whole, played together and never gave up," said Salerno, who along with longtime head coach Robbie Sharples and assistants John Arena and Christine Arena, emphasized to the players that they were capable of beating any other team in the league. "The kids plugged away -- they persevered."
PBA opened the playoffs with a 5-0 shutout win against Columbia on the strength of fourth grade pitchers Darius Sohikish and Michael Taylor. In the next round, they took on regular season league champion, JJ's, who came in sporting a 10-2 record, but also couldn't muster a run against PBA's lights out pitching and defense. Center fielder Colin Romaglia's running catch was the play of the game in the field and, at the dish, Thomas Arena's two-run home run was all PBA needed to pull off the 4-0 upset victory and advance to the championship game against the Cosmos Club.
The championship game was a back-and-forth seesaw battle with its share of great pitching, hitting and fielding by both sides.
Sluggers Diego Reynoso and Ryan Rue both homered for the Cosmos Club, who mounted a last inning rally, but in the end it wasn't enough. PBA prevailed 7-6, stranding the game's tying run on third base with a strikeout to end the game.
Sixth grader Devin Berman led PBA at the plate with a three-hit night and Roy Ghivoni, another sixth grader, also turned in a solid all-around performance.
"Games like these make adults become kids and the kids become champs," Salerno said afterward. "All of these kids on all of these teams are winners...Let's never forget that."
Robbie Sharples, John Arena, Christine Arena and Benny Salerno
Thomas Arena, Devin Berman, Roy Ghivoni, Nicholas Greco, Darren Hyde, Michael Lantigua, Joseph Neary, Colin Romaglia, Billy Salerno, Darius Sohikish, Michael Taylor, Giovanni Visbal