Folsom Rattlers win baseball tournament in Cooperstown

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Thirteen boys from Folsom recently returned from Cooperstown, New York, having won a baseball tournament at the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The boys, all members of Folsom National Little League now playing as the Folsom Rattlers, traveled to New York to play in the Cooperstown All-Star Village Tournament July 29-Aug. 3. The Rattlers won three-out-of-eight games and were eliminated from that tournament, but were then placed into another tournament called the Green Monster Tournament. The Rattlers swept the competition, winning all four games in the one-day tournament, to claim the championship and finish 18th overall out of the 52 teams that entered the initial tournament.

The kicker is the Rattlers were playing in a travel ball tournament, which features a larger field than little league, as the pitching mounds are four feet further away from home plate and the bases are 10-feet further apart than on little league fields. The game is also different, as base runners can take leads off bases and can steal a base without having to wait for the ball to cross home plate, as in little league.

Nine of the 13 players on the Rattlers represented Folsom National Little League in the District 54 All-Star Tournament in late June and early July. The players had just three weeks how to learn to pitch, throw, and play on a larger field than they were accustomed to.

“Given the time frame to learn all this, some three weeks after being all-stars, what this team accomplished was overwhelming,” Folsom Manager John McMahon said. “On top of that, most travel ball teams are from large areas. All these kids live within a mile and a half radius of each other. They’re all neighborhood kids. It’s nice to compete as a Folsom team.”

Finishing with a 7-5 record overall, the Rattlers features strong play from everyone. Four players hit grand slams during the tournament, including Tanner Phillips, Landon McMahon, Tyler Duck and Jack Griffith, while Drew Wise, Christian Serrano and Colin Gallagher also homered. The team combined to hit .400 for the tournament, and 11 of the team’s 13 players saw time on the mound.

“Our offense was on that day, and our pitching was really good,” McMahon said. “We were really deep in pitching.”

The team came together under the guidance of Carle Griffith, who last year suggested the league should send a team to Cooperstown for a 12-and-under tournament. Coaches McMahon, Sean Duck and Paul Serrano got the group together, which included Tanner Potthast, Tanner Phillips, Calvin Hylton, Colin Gallagher, Joey Powers, Alex Reed, Ty Tavelero, Christian Serrano, Calvin Shebesta, Drew Wise, Landon McMahon, Jack Griffith, and Tyler Duck. Chris Potthast and Jeff Hylton also helped out the coaching staff out when needed.

The trip wasn’t all about baseball. The team participated in many fundraisers beforehand to make the trip possible. The team also worked on some community service projects, including a turkey drive, Weave clothing drive, and a Valentine’s Day event at the senior center. During the tournament, a member of an opposing team broke his leg during a game against the Rattlers. The team decided to get the player some gifts and delivered it to him in his cabin.

Volunteering and contributing to the community with be a continued theme for the team, as the Rattlers move forward and compete in more tournaments, including a local one in September.