Photo by Brian Paglia / Players jostle for position to catch a fly ball during the Home Run Derby competition Thursday morning. Each team contributed three players in the field, rotating them every so often to give every player a chance at the mad scramble for line drives and near-miss home runs.
Puerto Rico Vaqueros
Coach: David Hernandez
Hometown: Carolina, Puerto Rico. Carolina is located in the northern part of Puerto Rico, and it borders the Atlantic Ocean.
Getting to know: In 2005, the Vaqueros placed third at the Roberto Clemente World Series here in McDonough. So far this season, the team has won three championship tournaments. The coaching staff says that shortstop Justin Colon and first baseman Iquacio Rohena have led the team in hitting while Rahim Sanchez has been its top pitcher.
Coach: Joseph Sanchez
Hometown: Grants is located in the northwest part of New Mexico, which is 40 miles west of Albuquerque.
Getting to know: This team is composed of players from two local Native America tribes. Sanchez said that the team is likely the first all-Native American team to reach the World Series. Throughout the course of the season, the Dodgers played in a league that utilized a pitching machine instead of live pitchers. L-A received an automatic bid after another team from the West Coast pulled out. Sanchez said the community rallied around the team to help raise funds to get them to the World Series.
Coach: Kevin Phillips
Getting to know: The Elite Gamers are one of two Georgia teams that are participating in this year’s World Series. Coach Phillips said that the experience is the true highlight of the year.
Coach: Randy Hamilton
Hometown: Liberty Township, Ohio, which is located in the southwest part of the state.
Getting to know: A small team with only 12 kids on its roster, the Flames placed first in three of its four regional tournaments — and placed second in the other. Hamilton, a former New York Mets pitcher in the late 1990s, is in his first year as the Flames’ coach. His son, Aydan, plays on the team.
Coach: Jeff Groves
Hometown: Farmington, New Mexico is located in the southwest part of the state in the San Juan River Valley.
Getting to know: The Pirates have been a model of consistency, only losing eight games in the last four years. Their coaches say that the strength of its team, by far, is its pitching.
Brooklyn Blue Storm
Coach: Matt DiGrigoli
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Getting to know: The Blue Storm set a record in the North Atlantic Regional scoring 32 runs in a game against Wykoff, N.J. DiGrigoli’s team is the first from Brooklyn to ever play in the World Series.
East Macomb Muskies
Coach: Jeff Pretzer
Hometown: MacComb County, Mich., is part of the Detroit metropolitan area.
Getting to know: The Muskies are a second-year team that is making its first appearance in World Series.