Marlins? Nah. But this Gardens team is heading to the World Series

Two Palm Beach Gardens youth baseball teams will get the opportunity of a lifetime this summer — the chance to play in a Cal Ripken World Series.

An All-Star team of 12-year-old boys earned a spot in the Major/60 World Series when they won the Southeast Regional Championship in Glen Allen, Va., in early July. They’re the first team from Palm Beach Gardens to win their way into the national tournament, said manager/coach Bart Espinoza.

The World Series is Aug. 6-13 in Ocala. The 12-member team is practicing six days a week at Gardens Park on Burns Road. That’s a lot of practice, but the coaches want them to have fun, too.

“This is all about the kids,” Espinoza said. “We’re just making sure that they’ll remember this for the rest of their lives.”

Another Gardens team will play in the 10 and younger division in the Cal Ripken World Series on Aug. 4-12 at Gardens Park. They were invited because Palm Beach Gardens Baseball is hosting. Ten teams are competing in that tournament.

As for the team of 12-year-olds, Espinoza said his players have been together for several years, so the experience is extra special.

The final game in Virginia to get to the series was a big one for Kevin Nelson, who pitches and plays second base and right field. He hit his first home run.

Pitcher Ryan Foderaro, who closed out the game, said everyone working as a team allowed them to finish the tournament undefeated.

During a practice Wednesday evening, the boys were hitting and learning how to safely get hit by a pitch. Most of them said they’re practicing a lot on their own time through private instruction or extra hitting in their backyards.

Nicholas Espinoza, the coach’s son and a pitcher, catcher and first baseman, remembers the feeling when they won the series berth.

“It’s pretty cool. It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “It’s just amazing that we did that.”

Colby Sisselberger agreed, as did outfielder Payton Barnes, whose grandfather watched practice from a lawn chair near the bleachers.

“It’s exciting, ‘cause we never thought that we would be here,” Sisselberger said.

Robbie Throop, an infielder, pitcher and right fielder, is eagerly awaiting the chance to see the talent of players from other parts of the country.

Shortstop Shawn Rapf, wearing a Cooperstown hat, said he’s looking forward to having fun and spending their last tournament together as a team.

“It feels great, because I remember playing with them since I was 7 or 8,” he said.

To follow results of Cal Ripken World Series baseball, follow on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Alison Brie weighs in on sexual misconduct allegations against brother-in-law James Franco
Alison Brie weighs in on sexual misconduct allegations against brother-in-law James Franco

E!’s red carpet coverage of the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild awards got off to an awkward start when host Giuliana Rancic asked nominee Alison Brie a surprise question about the sexual misconduct allegations against her brother-in-law, James Franco. Brie is married to Franco’s brother, Dave Franco, who appears in “The...
Delray Beach residents homeless after fire
Delray Beach residents homeless after fire

Residents of a Delray Beach duplex are without a place to live after a fire swept through one side of their building in the 200 block of Southwest Fourth Avenue Sunday afternoon. “Heavy flames” were shooting from one of the units when firefighters arrived shortly before 3 p.m., according to Capt. Kevin Saxton of Delray Beach Fire Rescue...
One person hurt in Acreage helicopter crash
One person hurt in Acreage helicopter crash

One person was injured after a small helicopter crashed in the Acreage, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue said Sunday. The crash happened near Royal Ascot Estates, Fire Rescue officials said shortly before 4 p.m. The pilot was taken to a hospital for treatment. He was flying a “small experimental helicopter that had crashed while taking off from...
Boy with 10-pound tumor on face dies after surgery in Florida
Boy with 10-pound tumor on face dies after surgery in Florida

A 14-year-old boy who recently underwent surgery to remove a 10-pound tumor from his face has died, according to news reports. Emanuel Zayas developed the benign tumor while suffering from polyostotic fibrous dysplasia, a genetic disorder in which fibrous tissue begins to replace bone in the body. “Our condolences and prayers for Emanuel's family...
Jupiter Island sees rare armed robbery
Jupiter Island sees rare armed robbery

Jupiter Island, that tony strip of mansions that counts Tiger Woods and billionaire John Malone among its homeowners, experienced a rare violent crime this weekend. The Jupiter Island Public Safety Department said two young men wearing masks and “armed with an undetermined type handgun” robbed a Jupiter Island residence early Saturday....
More Stories