Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

You Can Just Call the Mandarin Maulers Team Champions

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

You Can Just Call the Mandarin Maulers Team Champions

Article excerpt

Byline: mark boleky

The Mandarin Athletic Association 10-and-under baseball team learned a year ago what it needed to do to contend for a state championship. Clearly, its members did it.

The MAA "Maulers" swept through the Babe Ruth North Florida State Tournament to a championship July 7-10 in Hamilton County. The rec ball all-star team won all four games of pool play, by a combined score of 34-7. That put them in a four-team playoff with Ponte Vedra, Orange Park and Wakulla.

In the semifinal game with PV, the key hit was a fifth-inning, two-run home run by Luke Dexterhouse that spurred MAA to a 2-1 win. Dexterhouse also started that game on the mound, and Colin Johnson finished.

"The game had two well-prepared teams. It was all pitching and defense," said MAA coach David Kassenoff. "Everyone made their plays on both sides."

The title game with Wakulla was a romp, 10-4. Pitchers Lance Bolton, Alex Roldan and Aaron Harvey combined for the win.

Almost as satisfying as the state championship was the team's district title over Julington Creek the week of June 20. That's because JC eliminating MAA last year was a source of education and inspiration for the Maulers.

"[Last year] the difference was JC had been playing all year as an advanced ball team, and we realized we needed to get our team together," said Kassenoff. "So all during fall and spring ball, in addition to playing rec ball, these kids got together since last September, giving up their Sundays, practicing or finding scrimmage games.

"By the time we hit our stride at district, they were like a machine."

ANOTHER GOOD FINISH

The MAA 10-U squad was the only state champ from our area this summer of rec ball, but the Mandarin Sports Association's 8-U "Redtails" made a nice run in the State "B" Tournament July 1-4 in Palm Beach. They went 3-0 in pool play before losing to Julington Creek in the quarterfinals. The Redtails are coached by Shawn Arnold, Glenn Stambaugh and Troy Rhodes. …

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