THORNWOOD, N.Y. When the Sherman Park 9- and 10-year-old all-stars met for the first day of Little League baseball all-star practice, little did the 14 boys know what they would accomplish.
I felt we could accomplish anything, said T.J. Palma, 10, a fifth-grader-to-be at Pleasantville Middle School. I liked all of the guys on the team. Most of us played together in the spring, so I knew they were great players. The 14 boys came together under manager John Pugni and coaches Enzo Nardone and Domenick Fensore, and experienced the baseball summer of their young lives.
Sherman Park made program history, winning the District 20 title, then added the Section 4 championship and capped July by winning the New York state crown. As a result, Sherman Park advanced to the East Regional in Cranston, R.I.
Sherman Park went 11-0 in winning the District 20, Section 4 and New York state championships.
The team was composed of Chris Dimofski, Stephen Donato, Domenick Fensore, Michael Mancuso, Tommy Minafra, Sal Nardone, T.J. Palma, Joe Pennini, Richie Petrillo, Salvatore Pugni, Kyle Saul, Anthony Scaglione, Cole Sorby and Vincent Spaziante.
We started off the District 20 tournament nervous, but as we started playing more and winning, we gained our confidence, said Sal Nardone, 11, a sixth-grader-to-be at Westlake Middle School.
Sherman Park defeated Harrison for the District 20 title, then had a Section 4 tournament to remember. Sherman Park rallied from a 12-run deficit to beat New Rochelle, then kept coming back on Suffern to take the winners bracket final before beating Suffern in the title game.
In the state championship, Sherman Park beat a tough South Shore (Staten Island) team in consecutive games, including 3-2 in the final, to win the title and remain undefeated.
Winning the district title and section title gave us more and more confidence going into states, Palma said. It was really cool that we went undefeated winning the district, section and state titles, because we worked so hard to get there.
Sherman Park lost a tough game, 5-2, to the New Jersey champion in its regional opener. Pennsylvania and Delaware defeated Sherman Park, but Palma, Nardone and their teammates rebound to beat Maryland in the team's finale.
Even though the final outcome in Rhode Island was not what the team wanted, the all-star summer of 2012 will never be forgotten.
It will be the most memorable because of the great accomplishment we made as a team, winning district, sectionals and becoming the New York state champions, Nardone said.
We are the best in New York state, he said.
Palma, Nardone and their teammates are now looking forward to the summer of 2013, when Sherman Park will be playing in the 11-year-old division.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.