Editor's note: The following story was submitted by the Franklin Township Baseball League 

SOMERSET, NJ - Louis A. Presutti, second baseman for the Belmont, once said, “Every kid in America should have the opportunity to play baseball in Cooperstown!” Franklin 12U Warriors helped keep his dream alive this past week, but not without hard work.

It costs around $1,000 per player/coach for a team to play in Cooperstown, which includes tournament fees, lodging, meals, uniforms, and tickets to the Baseball Hall of Fame museum. In only 2 months the Franklin 12U team organized multiple fundraiser events to raise funds to cover 100% of their trip through a Hit-A-Thon, selling 50/50’s, selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts, selling flags at the Franklin 4th of July Celebration (thanks to Bill Grippo), having a car wash, and a Frutta Bowl Day, along with some private donations.

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The Franklin 12U team: Eli’sha B., Shaylen P., Billy M., Devin H., Krish P., Veer S., Jonathan W., Sean E., Jacob G., Anthony B., Mike G., Josiah J., Alberto M., and Ryan M.; is coached by Mark G., Jim M., Neil P., and Sunny P.. This team had earlier won four Tournament championships in four consecutive weekends in July.

Franklin 12U won their first game at Cooperstown, August 16th, helped by two multi-run Home Runs by Eli’sha B., and Anthony B.. Shaylen P. (0 ER) and Veer S (2 ER) shared the mound. The game ended in the fourth inning with a double play grounder to Veer S. to Mike G..

Game two, which was postponed from Sunday night, was played Monday morning at 7:30 AM, and meant that Franklin 12U would play a triple header. Franklin tied the game 11-11 after being down 11-4 after 4 Innings.  Billy M. hit a 2-run homer in the fifth inning, accompanied by a 2-run homer by Eli’sha B. in the sixth inning. Elisha B, Shaylen P, Anthony B and Alberto M had multiple hits.  Ryan M and Krish P shared the mound.  Krish P., pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth to end the game. 

Game three was played at 3:20 PM on Monday. Franklin had a 9-1 lead in the 4th inning, however, the opponent came back, and scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth. Franklin 12U ended up winning 10-7 in six innings, helped by a 2-run homer by Billy M. (his second of the Tournament and the day) and multiple hits by Veer S.  Krish P and Veer S shared the mound.  Krish P gave up no Earned Runs.

The third game for the day, and the fourth for the tournament started at 8 PM. Franklin scored five runs in the first inning, and were up 7-1 in the third inning. The opponent rallied in the top of the sixth inning, scoring three runs, but Franklin prevailed, winning 7-5. Ryan M, Billy M and Shaylen P shared the mound, Ryan M giving up 1 Earned Run and Shaylen P giving up 0. Veer S., Jacob G. and Anthony B. all recorded multiple hits.

Franklin 12U played their last two pool games on Tuesday, August 20th, winning 23-6 in a blowout win in their first game of the day. The high run count was bolstered by five homers, including a Grand Slam by Jacob G., his first HR of the tournament. In addition, Mike G., Veer S., and Josiah J. also hit their first HR. Anthony B. picked up his second Home Run of the tournament.  Shaylen P, Eli’sha B and Alberto M. all shared the mound with Eli’sha and Shaylen giving up 0 Earned Runs each.  Eli’sha B, Shaylen P, Veer S, Jacob G and Josiah J all recorded multiple hits.

The sixth game, which was the last pool game of the tournament, would determine Franklin 12U’s rank, and it’s opponent for the bracket playoffs. Franklin won this game 9-1 in four innings. The team was led by a stellar pitching outing by Sean E., striking out six and giving up only 1 Earned Run. Jacob G recorded multiple hits this game.  At the end of the pool play, Franklin’s record was 5-0-1, ranking them fifth in the tournament out of 62 teams. 

The Playoff games are Single Elimination, and unfortunately, the Franklin 12U Warriors team lost their first playoff game to Team Combat, 7-3. However, being the Warriors that they are, Franklin made the opponent fight for the win through eight innings of baseball after, Ryan M., got his first homer ever to tie the game 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Sadly, Franklin’s batters could not figure out the opposing pitcher, who pitched almost the full eight innings (and threw 121 pitches). Franklin surrendered four runs in the top of the eighth inning that they could not answer in the bottom of the 8th.  Krish P, Veer S (1 ER) and Ryan M (0 ER) shared the mound.

The Franklin 12U Warriors ended their Cooperstown journey with a 5-1-1 record finishing 10th overall. During the Closing Ceremonies, Franklin was asked to compete in the Fastest Team Relay; Franklin won it with a 26.35 seconds time , which was a nice ending for their Cooperstown All-Star Village trip.

Coach Neil Patel had this to say:

“There were 2 memorable moments which stood out for me.  One was on the field & one was off the field.

On the field, it was the comeback we had for the tie when we were down 11-4 early in the game.  It seemed like we were headed for a mercy defeat (8 run differential after 4 innings) so we were just trying to make sure they didn't score 1 more run. But then within a couple of innings, we were right back into the game and ended up with the tie. It provided confidence into the players that if we were behind in a game, we can make a comeback if we keep playing hard.

Off the field, what I will always remember is how the team bonded and were always chanting loud and dancing everywhere they went. It became contagious and some of the other teams started doing the same chant. It became a "signature" of Franklin Warriors team.

What I would tell the parents and the players is, Thank you.  Thank you for giving us the opportunity to coach the team & showing the commitment needed for all the success we had this year.  We won 4 tournaments in July and placed 5th after pool play(10th after playoffs) in Cooperstown.  We worked hard all year long and it definitely paid off for us with a lot of success in the summer.  All the credit goes to the players for their hard work and parents for staying committed to our grueling schedule.”

For more information regarding FTBL, please visit www.FTBLbaseball.org or call (732) 649-8068. Follow FTBL @FranklinTownshipBaseballLeague on Facebook.

About the Franklin Township Baseball League

The FTBL is a volunteer led non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.  It’s mission is to promote, develop, and supervise our community’s youth baseball activities. We have served the growing, and diverse community of Franklin Township, NJ since 1953, and provide organized youth baseball programs for over 500 children yearly, ranging in ages from 4 thru 18. The Mickey James FTBL Complex, located at 51 Dekalb Street, consists of five fields (Tee-Ball, Coach Pitch, Minors, Majors, and Senior), new restrooms, a small clubhouse, equipment sheds, 3 batting cages, and a Snack Shack area.