Delmar - State champs take it to the next level

July 25, 2007, marked an historical occasion in the world of Bethlehem youth sports with the Bethlehem Babe Ruth 13-year- old All Star Team's victory in the state championship tournament in Beacon, Dutchess County.

This is the first time in anyone's memory a Bethlehem team made it this far, said Tim Bruculere, president of the Bethlehem Babe Ruth League.

The team's 6-to-4 win over Saugerties propelled it to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Babe Ruth Baseball Tournament the weekend of Aug. 3 to 5 in Medford, N.J.

"They have superseded my expectations," said coach Rico Frese.

The team scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning after trailing 3-to-2 in the state championship game against Saugerties. Second baseman Justin Blalock tagged a Saugerties runner for the final out of the game.

"I got run over charging the ball and they called runner interference," said Blalock, whose favorite player is New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter

The team's 15-man roster received a rousing sendoff Friday, Aug. 3, outside town hall with a police escort all the way to the state Thruway for the 12-car caravan going to the Mid-Atlantic Regional.

"It's fun," said Nick Hodom on Friday, outfielder and catcher as he relaxed in the back seat of one of the cars listening to music before the team hit Medford for the first game later in the day.

The Eastern New York Babe Ruth League comprises teams as far north as Plattsburgh and as far south as Fishkill. The last time a local Babe Ruth Team won the World Series was in the 1970s when the Rotterdam team was crowned champions. The Bethlehem Babe Ruth team will play in a 10-team tournament against teams from Delaware, north and south New Jersey and metropolitan New York.

"We're confident how well we can do down there," said Frese. The winner of this weekend's tournament will play in the Babe Ruth World Series in Virginia later this month.

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