The Tri-Valley, California Babe Ruth League has a long tradition on the baseball field stretching close to three decades, but this year’s 15-Year-Old All-Star team accomplished something never done before in the entire history of Babe Ruth League. The team, that plays their regular season in Dublin on Camp Parks US army reserve base, won a third consecutive World Series championship. They captured three consecutive titles in all three age divisions - 13s, 14s and 15s.
Two years ago, the boys won the Babe Ruth 13-Year-Old World Series in Jamestown, New York. Last year, they won the 14-Year-Old World Series in Westfield, Massachusetts. In Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, they completed the first ever trifecta by winning the 2017 Babe Ruth 13-15 World Series.
"It's been crazy, I'm just so proud of the kids," said Tri-Valley Manager Tony Battilega.
This year’s team had six boys on all three championship teams: Josh Anderson, Joey Battilega, Evan Chevalier, Trevor Jackson, Jaden Sheppard, and Cory Steinhauer. Three boys have been on two of the teams: Demetre Aaron, Luke Palfalvi, and Troy Nassar. And the four key new additions this year were: Shane Cancilla, Brad Couture, Patrick Gallagher, and Matt Sugden. The coaches are Tony Battilega, Mark Palfalvi, and Scott Sugden.
Tri-Valley's overall record the last three summers is 45-3, which includes an impressive 3 Northern California State Champions, 3 Pacific Southwest Regional Championships and 3 World Series Championships.
Remarkable, amazing, and relentless are just a few words that describe this dedicated group of teenage athletes. On August 8, when most of the local youth were preparing for a new school year, Tri-Valley flew to Tennessee in attempt to complete the unmatched goal.
With a target on their back, Tri-Valley played four pool play games and although nothing came easy, they finished with four wins. 5-4 over Newton, Connecticut. 9-1 over Marshall County, Tennessee. 4-2 over West Windsor, New Jersey, and 5-3 over Sarasota, Florida.
Earning a top seed in the National Division gave Tri-Valley a bye and then they had a rematch with Sarasota in the semi-finals. Losing 4-2, with three outs remaining, the gritty Californians scored three 7th inning runs before Florida could record a single out and walked off with a post-midnight, stressful, and somewhat miraculous 5-4 victory.
On August 17, championship night, several thousand Tennessee fans, decked out in the burnt orange, showed up to Bobby Brewer field to watch their beloved Lawrenceburg host team try to avenge a 2015 title game loss to Southern California. However, as fate would have it, the “battle-tested” Bay Area boys prevailed with another hard fought, 4-3 championship game win.
Tri-Valley had more theatrics left for the World Series championship game against Lawrenceburg. Patrick Gallagher, one of the four new players for Tri-Valley, scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball in the top of the seventh inning. Clinging to a 4-3 lead, Tri-Valleyh withstood a Lawrenceburg rally as Joey Battilega notched the save by stranding a runner on third base as a stunned crowd watched Tri-Valley's players celebrate.
As hats and gloves flew and tired legs jumped with jubilant energy, the boys proclaimed, “We did it. We made history. We’re the first and only team to 3pete.”
Special honors in this year’s World Series went to: MVP Jaden Sheppard, All World Series team – Shane Cancilla, Luke Palfalvi, Matt Sugden. Gold Glove – Josh Anderson.