All-Star teams from Canfield Little League won state championships in 1998 and 2000.
By JAYME RAMSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CANFIELD -- The Canfield Little League 12-year-old baseball All-Stars have something on their team that probably none of the other teams at the Ohio Little League State Championships have.
Sure, all of the teams probably have stellar pitching, clutch hitting and nearly flawless fielding.
But unlike Canfield, they don't have four players with brothers who not only played in, but won the same tournament two years ago.
Canfield's previous experience at the state level -- call it tradition -- could prove to be a major advantage when the tournament opens Thursday in Hamilton (near Cincinnati).
Canfield won the state tournament in 1998 and 2000. If the two-year streak continues, Canfield will capture its third state championship.
The team two years ago featured Kyle Banna, Joe Fox, Jim Gromada and Andrew Turocy. Those four played integral parts in winning the Ohio Little League championship and having the team advance to the regional tournament in Indianapolis.
Teams that qualify for the regional tournament are only a string of victories away from traveling to Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series.
In 1997 and 1998, the Poland and Canfield teams came so close, finishing one victory short of a trip to Williamsport.
Canfield's 2000 team didn't qualify for the regional playoffs.
This year's team features younger brothers of the 2000 team: Dan Banna, Brian Fox, Anthony Gromada, and Jared Turocy.
Canfield advanced to the state tournament after winning the District Two title on Sunday, shutting out Campbell 2-0 at Roosevelt Park.
Shut out Campbell
In a pitcher's battle, Banna walked away with the win, pitching a one-hit shutout while striking out eight batters.
Campbell pitcher Bob Switka nearly matched Banna's performance, scattering three hits over six innings and striking out six.
Canfield scored when Bob Herberger led off the bottom of the second inning with a walk and scored on the throw after Fox's grounder to third base.
Gromada walked to lead off the bottom of the third, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a fielder's choice.
Andrew Zunic's double was Canfield's only extra-basehit.
Other members of the state-bound team are Jake Kucek, Duane Mancini, Adam Muth, Dominic Rich, Steven Schoenfeld and Nate Wilson.
"Everyone knew they were a good team," said Canfield Baseball Club president Gary Williams of this year's bunch. "The kids are fantastic, the coaches are great, and everything just came together at the right time."
The team is managed by Don Muth. The other coaches are Rick Fox, Bob Herberger and Duane Mancini.
Drawing a first-round bye at the state level, Canfield will play New London, the District Seven Champs, in Hamilton at the Westside Little League Complex on Thursday at 5 p.m. in the double-elimination tournament.
If Canfield wins Thursday, the team will play on Saturday at 1 p.m. If Canfield loses on Thursday, they will play on Friday at 5 p.m.
The 10-team tournament begins today with the championship game slated for July 31.