GROTON -- Groton U10 baseball manager Bill Glencross and the Crusaders are in the midst of an undefeated regular and post-season.
Groton won the District 3 Championships with a clean sweep of heavily-favored Hudson (3-1, 5-2) in the double-elimination tournament format.
"We went into the District semifinals against Littleton, Hudson and Marlboro," Glencross said. "We played in the Mac League Tournament the week before, then the Districts and we won all of them. We are kind of riding a hot-streak here heading into the regionals. Some of the towns like us in District 3 are sometimes not big enough to compete with Northampton and Northbridge. It is usually an unfair fight."
Strong pitching outings from Bill Glencross's son, Nate, Will Bordes, Will Dagle and Jay Fulreader were the difference.
The Crusaders entered the state tournament with the odds stacked against them, when they opened the tournament slate with Northbridge. Groton stunned the Rams of Northbridge with a 3-1 win in game 1 of pool play.
Groton and Northbridge squared off for the second time in the tournament semifinals. Groton jumped on the Northbridge Rams early, chasing their starting pitcher in the first inning, before winning in a 14-4 mercy-shortened game. Ben Furman, who had a great game defensively, took home his second MVP honor of the tournament.
Groton entered last weekend's title game against youth baseball juggernaut Northampton. The Crusaders stunned Northampton to secure its spot in the Cal Ripken Regional Tournament.
"Northampton had 150 people there and their own newspaper reporter -- you would have thought there was going to be a coronation," joked coach Glencross. "We scored six runs in the second inning and really surprised. They were good and really could hit.
They were hitting our top pitcher pretty hard. Our big lefty, Will Dagle, shut him down with slow stuff. This is the same group of kids who won districts last season."
According to Bill Glencross, he does not know of any Groton teams who won the state tournament in the last seven or eight seasons.
"It has been a long time since Groton won a state championship," he said. "We will face the top teams from across New England. We had 13 kids sign-up, and we literally took all of them. Some of these towns, like Eastern Mass champion Plymouth, have 50 kids try out for their teams. I know we are up against it, but we are a really good team."
Groton has improved game-to-game all season long, in large part, to the dedication its players and their parents put in to better themselves.
"There is one dad who has been taking his kid to the field and hits him 100 balls a day because the kid wants to," Bill Glencross said.
"My kid asked me to toss four or five buckets of soft toss to him after we won the starting tournament. In the grand scheme of life, kids and parents who are this dedicated are the qualities you look for.
These kids have put the work in and they deserve to be in regionals. If you are ready for the challenge and you work hard, you can get there.
It is really satisfying to see improvement with all of these kids."
Groton catcher Colby Rathbone showed true grit throughout the state tournament playing through injury.
"Colby had a broken pinkie on his glove hand and caught the entire tournament," Coach Glencross said. "Other coaches would come up and say that they just love those Rathbone twins. They're just so gutsy. Colby was just nails all weekend. It is just the kind of team we have. We get contributions from everybody in our lineup."
Groton opens Cal Ripken U10 Regional Tournament play tomorrow against Vermont in Exeter, N.H.
The state champs were comprised of Jay Fulreader, Tommy Onishi, Nate Glencross, Will Dagle, Ben Furman, Will Bordes, Jake Brown
Colin Rathbone, Colby Rathbone, Jake Miller, Will Thompson, David Gentile and Hunter Woolfey.