Top Team - August 2011

Sponsored by Joto's Pizza

Pinellas Park/Largo
9119 Belcher Road
1280 W. Bay Dr.
13050 Park Blvd.

Travis Capitani, Jake Roberts, Blake Morrison, Nick Lebel, Christian Vizaro, Zach Powell, Alex Jaenicke, Ian Barto, Michael Warner Jr., and Bryan Brooks, Brody Purcell

Congratulations to Joto’s Top Team for August — the Seminole Yankees!

Yankee Head Coach, Vinny Capitani, has a motto: “There Is Honor in the Effort.” Supported by Assistant Coaches Michael Warner and Cory Hutchinson, the three men agree: it is in effort that honor is found. Mistakes will happen, they say. Their philosophy is to teach baseball fundamentals. Just know the fundamentals; and do the best you can. On Sunday, May 22, their philosophy was validated: the SJWAA Seminole Yankees won the 12-and-under Rec Division Dizzy Dean City Championship, sweeping a double header against Northwest at Wildwood with scores of 12-8 and 14-8.

Effort was the name of the game from the start. “With a regular season record of 16-3 and 21-4, we went into the championship in the losers’ bracket, having to sweep two games from a very good Northwest team to take home the trophy,” recalled Coach.

Three leading players were named in the 5-1 championship:

Michael Warner, defensive MVP
Travis Capitani, offensive MVP
Bryan Brooks, outstanding pitcher

The Yankees started the season in March right on track, finishing their first game with a 16-2 victory over Fossil Park. From there, they reeled off thirteen straight victories. That’s when people started talking and asking questions about the team.

Former league president Tom Simpson occasionally kidded about winning the city tournament, but “I’ve been around too long to fall for that stuff – so we just kept plugging along,” determined Coach Vinny who, in the 1970s, was a three-time all-county and two-time all-state first baseman. “I simply want kids to respect the game and teach them to play baseball the right way.”

The team experienced a slump after Easter break. Their last five games in regular season brought a 3-2 record. But they came back with a victory – in the last inning of the semi-finals.

Down by two runs, fundamental training proved right on. “From day one, I have taught the boys the importance of it. So what do Blake Morrison and Nick Lebel do? They both lay down perfect bunt hits on cue, and three batters later we were in the championship with a hard-fought 14-13 victory!” In a way, they won the tournament that day – because without those successful bunts, they were done.

A former college and semi-pro player, Coach Vinny knows what it takes to win a championship. He also knows about honor. Besides baseball, the coaches teach principles to live by. They insist the guys do their homework and show respect. But they also make sure they know their cut-offs, rundowns, first and third situations, difference between bunting for a hit and sacrifice, etc. You know – the fundamentals.

It was fundamentals that pulled the team to victory. Coach Vinnie noted a home run hit over the fence. It didn’t carry as far as others had, but he was pleased because it resulted from fundamental training. “Michael kept his hands out and off his body to drive the ball to all fields; he didn’t try and pull everything.” That hit was part of the championship and, along with Michael’s two other homers, helped seal the victory for the team – and win Michael Tournament Defensive M.V.P. Great performance, Michael Warner! Coach says you were steady all year long!

Honor in the effort. It’s the stuff champions are made of!

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