It hasn’t happened in 12 seasons, but last week, the two teams from Three Rivers that play in the Exeter Little League both won championships: the Cardinals (ages 10-12) won the Majors division; the Thunder (ages 8-10) won the Minors division.
(Little League team names are chosen based on whether the team is in the Majors or Minors. Majors’ teams typically choose a Major League Baseball team name, but Minors’ teams may opt to use the name of a legitimate Minor League team.)
In the Majors division, the team managed by Dennis Mills finished an undefeated 17-0. They won the Majors championship in a one-game playoff over the number-two seed Angels by a score of 5-1.
Cal Williams smacked a line-drive homer that cleared the fence, and the outstanding pitching did the rest. Mills said his top pitchers — Dylan Mills and Avery Thorn — were outstanding all season.
The core players of the Majors team have played together since they were seven years old. Other top players worth a mention are Jordan Price and Dominic Kiefer.
“That experience makes a big difference, and it really showed in the 17-0 season,” said Dave Howell, coach of the 2014 Minors team. “The only other championship won by a Three Rivers team was in 2010 when the Raptors won the Minors division.”
The road to the 2014 championship for the Thunder in the Minors division was more difficult. They finished with an overall record of 15-2-1 but were seeded second in the title game.
“What that meant,” Howell explained, “is that we had to win two games and the number-one seed, the Muckdogs, only had to win one.”
The championship games in the Minors division were both slug fests as the top pitchers had to exit after reaching the mandatory 75-pitch count. The Thunder won game one 10-8; in game two, played last Saturday (May 31), the Thunder pounded the Muckdogs 17-8.
“Our kids just hit the daylights out of the ball,” said Coach Howell.
The Thunder is managed by Joe Evaro. Top players were Jackson Howell, Alex Cervantes, Logan Evaro, Stephen Mills, and Diego Chansler-Mestaz.
“Josiah Champlain moved here from Hanford prior to this season, and we were extremely lucky to have him,” said Howell. “All these kids playing Little League baseball have led to the incredible success of the TRUS team too.”
The Three Rivers School team, managed by Frank Capalare, recently finished the school season a perfect 9-0. With all that Little League experience returning next year, the Three Rivers Eagles expect to soar to a league championship in 2015 too.
Exeter Little League began in 1968, but it wasn’t until 2002 that a Three Rivers team was accepted into the fold.
What started 12 years ago with a couple of Three Rivers parents persuading the Exeter Little League to accept an all-Three Rivers Minors team has now evolved into dozens of Three Rivers kids having the opportunity to practice locally and play with their schoolmates. Now, finally, they can experience the joys of winning and a championship season they will always remember.