Canfield PONY players face Japanese National Team

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Neighbors | Submitted.Five Canfield Baseball Club PONY players (from left) Jake Grdic, Nate Shaw, Colin Burdette, Ryan Petro and Drew Carrocce were selected to the 2017 Tri-T 13U All Star Team, which played the 13U Japanese National Team in a double header during the Friendship Games on Aug. 11. The Japanese National Team won the first game 14-7 and the Tri-T All Star Team won the second game 9-8.


Five Canfield Baseball Club PONY players, Colin Burdette, Drew Carrocce, Jake Grdic, Ryan Petro and Nate Shaw, were recently selected to the 2017 Tri-T 13U All Star Team, which played the 13U Japanese National Team in a double header during the Friendship Games on Aug. 11. The games were played at the Fields of Dreams in Boardman.

The Canfield players joined other 13U players from Poland, Boardman, Mill Creek, Austintown, Badger, Springfield and Champion on the All Star Team. The team was managed by Chad Miller of Boardman and coached by Doug Widrig of Mill Creek, Anthony Patellis of Poland and Kevin Burdette of Canfield.

To be chosen for the team, players participated in a try out at the Watts Center at Youngstown State University.

“Each manager in the Tri-T league nominated players from their team who had an excellent season. Those players then participated in a try out at the Watts Center on YSU’s campus. The 13U team tried out for Manager Chad Miller. Those managers then conferred with their respective coaching staffs to pick the players that they thought were most deserving to be a Tri-T All Star and represent the league in this special exhibition,” Burdette said.

A 14U Tri-T All Star Team was also selected and played a double header against the 14U Japanese National Team on Aug. 11. The 14U team tried out for Manager John Pelles of Poland.

According to Bob Richards, a director and executive committee member of the Tri-T Baseball/Softball League, this is the 42nd year of the Friendship Games, but the first time the games have come to Ohio.

“The Friendship Games go back 42 years, but this is the first time in the games’ history that they have asked a community outside of Pittsburgh to host the games. It’s quite an honor for them to extend to Ohio and the Youngstown area,” Richards said.

A pre-game ceremony took place, with a gift exchange between the Tri-T players and the Japanese National Team Players, and a special captains exchange. The Japanese and American National Anthems were also played before the games.

“This is an important moment in PONY baseball to further friendships and cooperation between the two countries. Japan is a large PONY presence. It is also a great opportunity to show off Ohio and the Mahoning Valley,” Richards said.

In between games, a picnic was provided for all players, coaches and their parents and families. At the end of the Friendship Games, all players, coaches and their parents and families attended the Scrappers game at Eastwood Field.

“Our teams going with the Japanese teams to watch the Scrappers play at Eastwood Field was a great opportunity for our boys to learn about Japan’s culture and make some new friends,” Burdette said.

Richards said a local company donated the tickets for the Scrappers game.

“Mr. Rooter provided 300 tickets for all the kids and their parents to attend the Scrappers game. They stepped up in a really nice way. It was a heck of a donation,” Richards said.

Burdette said the entire experience was a great opportunity for everyone involved.

“It is an absolute honor for each coach and player to play against the Japanese National Teams. I hope our players learn a lot from this very special opportunity. It isn’t every day you get to step on a field and play baseball against one of the most respected baseball powerhouses in the world,” Burdette said.

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