NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Coach Chris Fulco noticed something early this summer about the New Rochelle Braves 11-and-under baseball team, and it gave him a good feeling.
“You could see the loose attitude in the boys and you could see they were having fun,” Fulco said. “When a team is having fun at practice, that makes the game so much easier. At that point, Joe (Fama) and I knew we could go far this year.”
The Braves took it as far as they could and came away with the championship in the Westchester Baseball Association 11-and-under “A” Division. The Braves added the exclamation point to their season with a 5-4 walk-off win against Pelham.
The team is comprised of Duke Gomez, Tyler Fulco, Stephen Santarpia, Alex Jeraci, Connor Bradshaw, Tyler Bradshaw, Nick Scollard, Anthony Fama, Caser Choflet, Matt Pagano and Chris Semenza.
Fulco said the Braves have been playing together since they were 9, which was instrumental in the team winning the title.
“Being able to pick each other up is important,” Fulco said. “Between sleepovers, hanging out and Xbox, these boys are very close. They rely on each other, and Joe and I know their strengths and weaknesses. We were able to push the right buttons.”
New Rochelle was tested in the semifinals by the West Side Hawks (Manhattan) before emerging with an 8-5 win. Pagano tossed a complete game and also drove in six runs, four coming on a grand slam.
The Braves had beaten Pelham, the District 21 11-year-old champion, twice prior to the title game. The score was even at 4 going into the bottom of the sixth. Semenza would deliver the game-winning hit, touching off a celebration among players, coaches and parents.
“Pelham is a well-coached and talented team and the rivalry between New Ro and Pelham dates back for both cities,” Fulco said. “To watch the boys celebrate, and even our parents run out on the field, was an amazing moment. The joy the boys felt will last a lifetime.”