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Rohnert Park 12 year olds qualify for five-state regional tournament

  • Rohnert Park's Ryan Hoxsie slides to beat the throw to third base during the Cal Ripken Baseball Little League 10 and under NORCAL State Tournament between the Rohnert Park All Stars and Laguna Gray All Stars at Rogers Field in Rohnert Park, Calif., on July 5, 2013. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

Three years ago, a Cal Ripken baseball tournament team of 9-year-olds from Rohnert Park couldn't win a game in the postseason.

Fast forward to today, still together and much improved, the Red Storm is going to the Cal Ripken five-state regional tournament.

"It's been fun. We just got better over the years," said Colton Moss, an infielder on the team. "We've gotten stronger. We're never out of a game."

Cal Ripken Little League Baseball Tournament

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One of two Northern California teams to qualify for the Cal Ripken 12u/60 Pacific Southwest Regional, in Surprise, Ariz., the Red Storm again will be an underdog. Should they win the regional, the Red Storm would advance to the Cal Ripken World Series, in Hammond, Ind.

"We just work really hard. I think it's really exciting," said Chris "Scoop" Wilsey, a catcher and second baseman.

The Red Storm's first season was not as memorable. Called a tournament team because the players were not picked to the Rohnert Park league's 9-year-old all-star squad, the Red Storm lost all 13 of its games in Cal Ripken postseason tournaments.

The next two seasons, the team won as many games as it lost in tournament play. The Red Storm did not advance past the Northern California finals.

"They were always the second-tier guys. They were players right on the cusp," said manager Paul Garrett. "They've jelled well together. It's just been a fantastic mix."

Deeper pitching to complement a steady offense helped the Red Storm reach the Northern California championship game this season, including a pair of come-from-behind victories. Despite falling to Elk Grove in the final, the Red Storm qualified for the regional tournament.

Putting balls in play, disciplined defense, and fearless when behind, the Red Storm are a confident team.


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