12U STB Elite finished fifth overall out of 90 teams at the 2023 American Youth Baseball HOF Invitational

Posted at 3:58 PM, Aug 08, 2023

The STB Elite 12U out of Santa Maria returned home from Cooperstown, New York late last month.

After finishing fifth out of 90 teams that competed at Cooperstown Dream Park, the boys reflected on their time facing opponents from all over the United States.

STB Elite lost just once in their last game against ELS Bats Red, a team out of Kentucky, by a final score of 17-14.

"It was definitely exciting to hear that and know that we're five out of 90," assistant coach Robert Reynoso said. "It's impressive. Not a lot of big baseball teams that go up that way can make it that far. And for our small area to do that, it's pretty impressive."

STB Elite had a run differential of 116-43 against their opponents, and assistant coach Reynoso credited the team's dedication to their success.

"Honestly, we work hard," Reynoso said. "I would say about nine months out of the year we dedicate ourselves out here. Sometimes we don't get a field and we have to use the open grass area sometimes, but we make do. These boys definitely give us their hard work for the two or three hours that we're here and that's all we ask for."

Coach Reynoso credits their hard work, but utility player, Johan Reyes, contributes it to their ability to attack the ball at the plate versus East Coast teams who play more small ball.

"It was a whole other play style from East Coast and West Coast, especially the coaching style," Reyes said. " They were a little bit less aggressive than we were. Their coaching style plays more like defense."

Learning different styles of play and picking the other team's brain helped players improve their own game for next season.

"Players play different ways on different sides," pitcher and outfielder Elijah Solis said. "Just to see other coaching and other players play is super cool stuff."

They had one important mascot helping to lead the way to a successful showing in Cooperstown. Their stuffed animal mascot, Jerry the dinosaur.

"He gave us the confidence in ourselves," pitcher and third baseman Julian Romero said. "Everytime we stole a base, or walk, or hit a home run, we always grab him and then we all say "Jerry!"

"Jerry was awesome," coach Reynoso beamed. "He was definitely our leader out there for sure. Every time we scored, hit home runs, down a run, down two runs, they would just call Jerry. Jerry was their uplifting spirit and it worked."