Longwood team sweeps the Babe Ruth State Invitational
Talk about a dynamite win! Members of the Longwood “T.N.T.” All-Star 12-and-under Babe Ruth baseball team are state champs. By defeating Vero Beach in the title game of the Babe Ruth State Invitational Tournament in Lake City, T.N.T not only took home a huge amount of pride, but also a trophy to match.
“We celebrated on the field and then went to a barbecue restaurant in Lake City as a team,” says manager Nick Pasquale. “We plopped the trophy in the center of the table. We ate and had a great time. And all the people there were enjoying our celebration. We had a really good time. It took a lot of hard work to get to that point. Our team fought so hard. Individually through the season, they all fought hard to become an All-Star. And then they fought to win the tournament.
“The fashion in which we won meant a lot,” continues Nick. “We were undefeated throughout the tournament and never lost the lead in any game we played. Each player got a chance to play throughout the tournament, and more importantly, each player got an opportunity to play in the championship game. They deserve to be very proud of themselves and the way they handled themselves as a team.”
The All-Star team was made up of 14 players from the 12-and-under division. The players were picked after the regular season ended. Because Nick’s team, the Mets, finished in a tie for first place in the division, he was asked to be the coach of the All-Star team.
“All of the boys who make the All-Star team are elite players in their division,” says Nick. “They hit well and they field well. In our lineup, all have at least one home run and the highest is nine home runs for the season.”
The key to winning, insists Nick, was getting the team to work together.
“The most important thing for us was to get the team to gel and play well together,” Nick says. “We have a lot of team-building activities. A lot of it is fundraising so we can go to State. The team gets to know each other off the field and they become friends. They played together as a team very well.”
Another way Nick promoted team unity was the selection of “T.N.T.” by AC/DC as the team song and team name.
“We came up with the team name the night of the draft,” says Nick. “‘T.N.T.’ is one of the team’s favorite songs.”
All-Star players included: Aalic Anderson, Matthew Trapane, Jake Zogaib, Darius DeVeglut, Joemar Gonzalez, Dillan Sparks, Cameron Block, Stephen Cherepanya, Tatum Sutton, Noah Buckley, Cameron Sackett, Jason Fuertes, Nicholas Pasquale, and Raheel Patel.
Nick is especially happy that his son, Nick Jr., made the team. He says his son loves playing for him and the proud dad loves being part of the game. The team mom was Nick’s wife Linda.
“She was the best team mom ever,” beams Nick. “You can ask any of the players.”
The victory celebration continued when the coaches and players returned home to Longwood. The city issued a proclamation in their honor.
“We are honored to have that bestowed on us,” says Nick.
This is the first state title for Longwood Babe Ruth since 2012. Nick hopes to make the championships even more frequent.
“Longwood is a solid baseball community,” he says. “Hopefully, we will continue to win. I plan on putting a team out there that’s going to compete and possibly win State again.”
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