Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 27
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
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DELIVERING VICTORY: Joaquin Hernandez-Burt of the Princeton Little League 12-year-old all star team delivers a pitch in recent District 12 tournament action. Last Wednesday, Hernandez-Burt gave up just one run in four innings of work on the mound and then clobbered a game-winning three-run homer in extra innings as Princeton edged West Windsor to earn a spot in the District 12 tournament final eight. Princeton was slated to face Nottingham on July 5 to open final eight action.

Producing Fireworks in Win Over Sunnybrae, Princeton Little League 10s Make District Top 3

Bill Alden

Facing the possible end of its run in the District 12 tournament final eight, the Princeton Little League 10-year-old all-star team had plenty of reason to be nervous as it took the field last Monday.

Short on pitching, Princeton was facing a powerful Sunnybrae team who had already beaten it 4-1 in the double elimination competition.

But Princeton manager Bill Venizelos sensed a calm around his squad. “I am a pretty tense guy but the kids take it all in stride,” said Venizelos.

“They don’t get too nervous. They were saying today that we have been hitting better than anybody in this tournament and that if we hit like we have been we can win.”

The Princeton squad proved those words were no idle boast, producing plenty of fireworks in the July 4th contest as it posted a 12-7 win.

“Our big offensive players were Will Venizelos, who went 3-for-4 with five RBIs and Noah Lilienthal, who was 4-for-4 with three runs,” said Venizelos, noting that his squad was hitting .348 collectively in the final eight and has won three straight elimination games. “They were our two big guns today.”

The win advanced Princeton to the top three of the competition and it was slated to face Nottingham on July 5 with the winner playing undefeated Robbinsville on its home field this Wednesday evening.

While Princeton’s offense was critical in the win, Venizelos pointed to the mound work of Thomas Ramsay as a key factor.

“Thomas Ramsay has done this before in similar situations in winter ball,” said Venizelos, whose team jumped out to a 9-0 lead after three innings on Monday.

“Thomas is a slow ball pitcher. He throws a sinker and gets batters out of their rhythm. It took them four innings to figure him out. He pitched a complete six-inning game.”

In Venizelos’ view, the team figured out how good it could be well before this summer.

“Last winter a lot of the guys played well in the Jack Cust tournament,” said Venizelos. “They had an epiphany there; it helped them believe they could do this.”

Princeton has also developed a savvy and resilience to go with its confidence.

“We played Lawrence in pool play and it was a 4-4 game in the fifth,” recalled Venizelos.

“We scored the winning run on an infield sacrifice fly. Will was on third and there was a pop up that went between pitcher, catcher and first. They left the plate open and Will went for it. It is a smart group of kids.”

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