The 12U New England Regional Champions from Plymouth, Massachusetts stunned previously unbeaten Bullard, California to capture the 2015 Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series Champions at Hank Thompson Field in Monticello, Arkansas.
They started off their journey in Monticello in rocky fashion with a 6-3 loss to Bullard, 6-3. Exactly one week later, they ended their trip of a lifetime in spectacular fashion with a 4-1 win over the same exact squad from the Pacific Southwest to claim the national championship.
Between those games against Bullard, great pitching and power hitting were the fuel Plymouth needed on its way to six straight wins over elite teams from across the county.
As they did in almost every game during the tournament, Plymouth jumped on top quick and never looked back with all four of its runs scored in the first inning.
Griffin Gibbs led off the inning with a single to center and then after Bullard starting pitcher Manny Galo picked up two strikeouts, first baseman Cam Shaughnessy worked a two-out walk. No. 5 hitter Matt DiTullio drove a 2-1 pitch to right as Gibbs scored the game's first run setting up first-and-third with two outs for the New England Champs. Jeff Rodden, who was named Player of the Game, laced a three first-pitch fastball to deep center field scoring Shaughnessy and DiTullio for a two-out, three-run home run in the top of the first inning to give Plymouth the 4-0 lead.
Bullard's Tyler Davis countered with a solo shot in the bottom of the first providing his team with the only run they would score the entire game as the duo of Josh Gomes and Rodden stymied Bullard the rest of the way. Gomes went the first four innings for Plymouth, allowing just one more hit after Davis' blast. Rodden came on for the final two innings, striking out three of the six batters he faced on just 20 pitches.
Griffin Gibbs, Matt DiTullio and Christian Hohulin all had two hits. Rodden, Joshua Gomes and Nathan Viscariello had Plymouth's other three hits in the title win.
With right-fielder Danny Riordan securing the final out to send the Plymouth faithful into a frenzy, the Plymouth 12's are the first team in the history of the Cal Ripken 12U tournament to win the championship out of the New England Region dated back to 1984.
"As coaches, we stood together as one and just watched the kids maul each other and there is no feeling to describe this as I've watched championships in pro sports but this is so unscripted with what these kids did," said Assistant Head Coach Brian Nolan, referring to the coaching staff of Jim Keefe along with head coach Frank Gomez during the celebration.
The only thing missing from the celebration was Plymouth North head coach Dwayne Follette, who could not make the trip to Arkansas due to a family trip booked months in advance. Follette took this team under his wing in June and taught the squad the importance of knowing their role on the team and Coach Nolan pointed out the kids' toughness was all a direct influence of Follette, who now has good a reason as any to not return anytime soon.
"You don't have a chance at winning one of these tournaments - district, state, regional - without having a solid foundation in place as the positive culture of winning that has been developed over 20 years from high school to t-ball," said Nolan. "This is a reflection of Coach Follette's hard work. These kids will never be 12 again, and they responded to every obstacle. Get me a field, tell these 14 boys to play ball, and I'm confident - no, now I'm positive - they will find a way to win."