The players in the Blue Knights 12U team are headed for a once in a lifetime tournament.
After winning at the state and regional levels in the Cal Ripken league, the Blue Knights are headed to the Cal Ripken World Series in Branson, Missouri representing the Ohio Valley region. The team will be in Group D battling against U.S. teams from the Pacific Southwest region, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Branson for the chance to battle through the bracket portion of the tournament.
Head coach Marty Watson said the team can so far boast a 42-7 record through travel and league play. Throughout the regional battle, the team took 54 runs while only allowing three.
Watson said the team has been working on fine tuning fundamentals and finessing their game ahead of the World Series. He said the goal throughout the life of the four-year-old team has been to make it to a higher level each year.
Watson said this year's goal was to win regional.
"Now we're doing it," he said.
Watson said the tournament will be an exciting opportunity for the team. He said the team will play against teams from across the nation and across the world.
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"It's going to be a once in a lifetime experience," he said.
There will be four groups of five teams from the U.S. and one international group with nine teams from around the world. The top two winners of each team will go on to bracket play to fight for the World Series title.
Watson said he is proud to lead the team at this level. As coach, he said he has gotten a chance to be a part of what they do on and off the field.
"It's real meaningful to be a part of their lives," he said.
Watson said he has seen the players take what they learn in baseball and apply it in their lives. He said the kids have learned to take control of things they can control, but not to worry about things they can't.
"Baseball is a lot about life," he said. "Twelve-year-olds sometimes let emotions get the best of them. They're learning to channel and use their emotions."
Landon Lis and Dylan Welp, both 12 of Newburgh, said it has been exciting to win the regional and head for the World Series. Welp said this is his first year on the team.
"It was a big deal," Welp said of winning the regional final.
Lis said he felt honored to be a part of the team.
"It felt like a privilege," he said.
Lis and Welp said they are excited to play at the World Series.
"It will be cool to play people from different countries and different places,"Welp said. "It will be a cool experience."
Lis said the opportunity says a lot about the strengths of the team.
"It's just how much hard work can get you and where it can get you," he said.
The Blue Knights will play in their first game of group play on Friday, Aug. 2, at 8 p.m. against Branson before taking on the Pacific Southwest regional team on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 1:30 p.m. Then, they will continue in group play on Monday, Aug. 5 at 5:30 p.m. against Oregon and will play their final group match on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 12:30 p.m. against Pennsylvania.
For information or to see a schedule, visit the Cal Ripken Maj70 World Series webpage at baberuthworldseries.website.sportssignup.com.