After 1 year of hard work raising money for their Cooperstown tournament, the time was finally here. On Saturday, August 8th, the boys participated in Cooperstown Dreams Park’s opening ceremonies, followed by the skills competition. Cody Hunterton represented South Plainfield in the home run derby, Mitchell Dudak was in the Golden Arm Competition, and Nick Loniewski was in the Roadrunner competition. The rest of the team was in the Around the Horn competition, and all of the boys did a great job. After this first amazing day, the boys and coaches were even more excited to take the field on Sunday morning and start playing ball.
In the first game, the Dynamite played Blue Creek, Ca. The Dynamite quickly put up 4 runs in the 1st inning with a leadoff single by Nick Loniewski and a double by Darren Ochoa. Brandon Shine, Austin Scott, and Johnny Padovano each had an RBI single. In the 3rd inning, Shine led off with a single, followed by consecutive singles from Austin Scott, Johnny Padovano, and Troy O’Connor. Anthony White and Alfred Pace had big hits for the Dynamite in the 4th inning. Jake Jones had a great game going 2 for 3. Darren Ochoa and Mitchell Dudak pitched a great game for the Dynamite. Kenny Clevenger made a diving catch in right field to save a couple of runs late in the game. In the last inning with the tying runs on base with 2 outs, Alfred Pace made the game saving catch on a line drive to 2nd base; Pace laid out and snagged it. The Dynamite won 10-9 to start the tournament.
In the 2nd game, the Dynamite played New Fairfield Thundercats from Ct. The hit sticks kept on going. They scored 4 runs again in the first inning with hits from Nick Loniewski, Darren Ochoa, and Brandon Shine. In the 2nd inning, Cody Hunterton stepped up to the plate and smacked a moon shot over the right field fence to extend the lead. Pace then laced a single and the Dynamite scored 5 runs in the second inning. In the 3rd inning, the offense exploded for 8 runs with hits by O’Connor, Loniewski, and Shine coupled with 3 walks in the inning as well. The Dynamite won the 2nd game 17-2.
The 3rd game was Monday morning against, at the time, the #1 seed of the tournament, the LaGrange Lumberjacks of N.Y. After the 1st inning, the Lumberjacks had a 1-0 lead. The little town of South Plainfield was not going to back down against the giant Lumberjacks. In the 2nd inning, the Dynamite took a 2-1 lead. Austin Scott and Johnny Padovano led off with singles. Troy O’Connor then had an RBI single. Mitchell Dudak grounded out, but had an important RBI while doing so. In the 3rd inning though, the Lumberjacks scored 5 runs and the Dynamite lost 6-2.
In the 2nd game of the day, the 4th game overall, the Dynamite played the Broadneck Bruins from Maryland. After being held for 2 runs in the first game of the day, the Dynamite came out swinging. Loniewski, Ochoa, and Shine all had singles to start the game, then Austin Scott steps to the plate and tomahawks a Grand Slam over the left center field fence. Johnny Padovano and Troy O’Connor continued with singles and then Mitchell Dudak comes up and crushes one over the right field fence for a three run home run. After the 1st inning, the Dynamite led 7-0. In the 3rd inning, the Dynamite continued the charge with Anthony White, Cody Hunterton, and Jake Jones leading the way and scoring 5 more runs. Austin Scott and Jones pitched a masterful game by holding the Bruins to just 1 run in 4 innings. The final score was 13-1 Dynamite.
In the 5th game, the Dynamite faced the Whitman Panthers from Massachusetts. The offensive powerhouse continued. Ochoa reached on an error and Shine then connected on a monster home run over the left field fence to start the scoring in the 1st inning. Then, Austin Scott and Padovano singled, O’Connor walked and Mitchell Dudak laced a single scoring a run. Next, Anthony White and Jake Jones laced RBI singles and again the Dynamite put up a 7 spot in the 1st inning. Kenny Clevenger laced a shot to the 1st baseman, who could not handle it and scored another run. Loniewski, Scott, and Padovano laced singles and in steps Troy O’Connor, who delivers a 3 run bomb over the left field fence putting the Dynamite up 11-1. In the 4th inning, the Dynamite put up 4 more runs with singles from Scott, Padovano, O’Connor, and Dudak. At the end of 4, the score was 15-4. In the 5th inning, for the 2nd time in the tournament, Cody Hunterton delivers another moon shot over the right field fence. In the 6th inning, Ochoa walked, Shine and Padovano singled to extend the lead. Then once again, Mitchell “Goose” Dudak steps to the plate and hits a blast over the left field fence for his 2nd home run in the tournament. The Dynamite won 21-5. Cody Hunterton and Kenny Clevenger both pitched a masterful game keeping the Panthers in check for the whole game.
In the final game of pool play, the Dynamite faced the Screaming Eagles from Virginia. In the 1st inning Austin Scott got the scoring going with his 2nd home run of the tournament. In the 2nd inning, the Dynamite put the pressure on the Eagles by scoring 8 runs. Cody Hunterton and Jake Jones started the inning with singles. Kenny Clevenger had an RBI. Then Shine and Padovano each doubled in runs. Anthony White and Troy O’Connor doubled scoring 2 runs. In the 4th inning, Ochoa walked, Shine singled, and then Johnny Padovano stepped to the plate. Padovano then hits a 3 run blast over the right field fence. In the 5th inning, Shine stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and he hits a Grand Slam over the left field fence. Hunterton, Pace, and Jones also had RBI singles in the inning. The final score was 18-10 Dynamite. Darren Ochoa and Mitchell Dudak both pitched phenomenally in the game preserving the win for the Dynamite. Alfred Pace and Kenny Clevenger made some great defensive plays in the game for the Dynamite.
After finishing with a 5-1 record in pool play, the Dynamite found themselves tied for 20th place out of the 104 teams in the tournament. This earned the boys 3 byes in the playoffs before stepping in to face the Maple Mountain Eagles from Utah in the fourth round of the playoffs. In the 1st inning, Brandon Shine singled and Austin Scott drove Shine in. In the 2nd inning, Dudak led off with a single and Anthony White laced an RBI double to drive in Dudak. After 2 innings, the Dynamite led 2-0. In the 4th inning, Austin Scott walked and Padovano laced a double scoring Scott. At the end of 4, it was 4-3 Eagles. After a hard fought battle, the Dynamite eventually fell to the Eagles 17-3 in the playoffs.
What a great experience the boys and coaches had all week. The boys played great baseball; however, the experience was not just about playing ball. It was about making new friends, living together with your teammates for 1 week, and working together to accomplish goals on and off of the field. These boys showed the coaching staff that they are not just ball players, but great young men.
The South Plainfield Dynamite would like to thank first and foremost, THE PARENTS. Without all of their hard work and dedication, this would all not be possible. Thank you parents for everything you do on and off of the field. Also, the Dynamite would like to thank all of the sponsors that donated and helped us get to Cooperstown. We truly appreciate all of your donations. Also, the Dynamite would like to thank the SPJBC board members for all of their support.