Five games and 92 outs is what it took for the United Travel Baseball 12U team to win the gold bracket championship in the 2020 Lancaster Legends Classic.
The tournament began for them on July 8 when they took on the Cheektowaga Knights in game one. The team that United battled with for the 2019 championship was a fitting first game. United was three outs away with a one-run lead in 2019 when the Knights battled back to take the crown.
“We came out strong and our game plan was perfect,” head coach Jason Ball said.
United was led by a solid effort from starting pitcher David Schnaufer and relief by Hayden “Meat” Schroeder. United’s defense was fantastic behind their pitchers holding the Knights to only two hits.
A nine-run fourth inning solidified the win for United as they mercied the the Knights for the win. Jayden Bridge was 3-for-3 with the walk-off to seal the win, 14-3.
Thunderstorms postponed the next matchup for United, meaning that three games would be played the next day.
United would follow with a 6-3 loss to the Clarence Red Devils, and an 8-2 win vs. the Mel Ott Panthers to finish up pool play. The boys would wait four hours to take on Mel Ott for the second time that day in the semifinals.
Mason Vigiano would get the start on the mound. United jumped out to an early two-run lead with a two-RBI single by “Meat” Schroeder, who plated Kylan Ball and Nolan Ball who each singled in the inning. Mel Ott would battle back with a two-run home run to tie the game up.
“I knew this game was going to be a battle,” said Coach Ball. Vigiano allowed two runs on three hits with four K’s in three innings of work.
The game would continue to be a seesaw battle of back and fourth baseball extending all the way to extra innings. In the top of the eighth inning with the score tied at six, Kylan Ball stepped to the plate and ripped an RBI single down the leftfield line to score Landen Santini to take the lead. Ball would then steal home to pad the lead 8-6.
Landen Santini would take the mound for the second consecutive inning and provide two K’s to seal the win for United, 8-7.
After losing to Clarence 6-3 in pool play, United would find themselves facing off against the No. 1 seed Clarence Red Devils again for the championship game.
The championship game was held at Memorial Park in Clarence.
With a recent injury to starting catcher Santini, the team had to make some adjustments to combat the loss. Ball would come back behind the plate from his shortstop position and Nolan Ball would fill in at short.
Second-year United player David Schnaufer was a game-time decision to get the start on the mound and was masterful. Schnaufer provided five K’s, and allowed only two runs on four hits for United. Clarence jumped out to an early two-run lead but United battled back in the second and took the lead 6-2.
“Both of the teams have great pitching, fortunately for us we made them use theirs up before we did,” said Coach Ball.
Mason Wells, Jayden Bridge, Kylan Ball, and David Schnaufer all had hits. Jaxon DelPriore and Mason Vigiano each had a double with two hits apiece and Austin Humphrey added a pair of hits in the victory. “Meat” Schroeder would come in for relief to close out the final three innings adding five K’s, one run on one hit.
“Our pitching was phenomenal and the defense kept things very clean,” Ball said. “I’m very happy for the boys, they earned it and have been great students, this has been a challenging year for everyone. We are just glad to be playing. We have been training since November with a few months break because of Covid, but we kept up with Zoom meetings together and put it all back together when we hit the field.
“We would like to thank all of our sponsors, supporters and anyone who has lended a hand to our success over the last 3 years. We appreciate you all.”
This is United’s ninth Championship appearance in three years
United Travel Baseball, Inc. is a not for profit baseball organization based in Genesee County, NY
2020 United Travel Baseball Roster: Landen Santini, Austin Humphrey, David Schnaufer, Jayden Bridge, Hayden “Meat” Schroeder, Mason Vigiano, Jaxon DelPriore, Leo Egloff, Mason Wells, Nolan Ball, Kylan Ball and Anthony Pellegrino. The team is coached by Jason Ball, Joey Santini, Statistics: Mike DelPriore and Equipment Manager: Dom DelPriore