Ga. – In the midst of all the familiar successful programs that run
through these Perfect Game events, there are many up-and-coming
programs who go unnoticed regardless of how well they’re playing.
There are a few teams at this year’s 15u WWBA National Championship
that have been absolutely dominant through pool play, but aren’t
getting the recognition that they deserve.
easy to root for teams like that; the ones that play hard for the
love and competitive aspect of the game, but receive no glory. It’s
especially easy when it is a team that is built on good values, not
just sound baseball fundamentals. That is what we have here with the
Bronx Bombers from the heart of New York state.
Bombers have run rampant this week, and are a perfect 6-0 through
pool play after Tuesday's 9-3 win over the Indiana Outlaws. They lead
their pool in runs scored, and have certainly lived up to their name
of the “Bombers,” as they are batting .403 as a team with a .603
slugging percentage. Head Coach Chuck Gutierrez recognizes that a big
part of their success has to do with their ridiculous offensive
we have put some runs on the board, and that always helps,” Coach
Gutierrez said. “Our offense has been carrying us, and our pitching
has struggled at times with throwing strikes, but our offense has
been great. Good defense is big for us too. Our whole mindset is to
take it game by game and let the chips fall where they may. Our boys
have really stepped up this week.”
good as this team has been this week the program is pretty much
unknown for the most part. Seeing how well this tournament has gone
for them, they won’t be unknown for long; especially if they end up
winning the whole thing. The founder of this program, Eric Semler,
feels that winning a WWBA National Championship would be a tremendous
boost for the Bronx Bombers organization.
this tournament would be like winning the Presidential election. I
think it would be amazing,” said Semler. “I don’t know if there
is a bigger goal than winning a tournament like this. There is so
much competition, and so many teams. Being from the Northeast and not
really getting the recognition that we deserve for all the talent we
have, it’s really big for us to come down here and make a name for
ourselves. It would be incredibly gratifying to accomplish something
like that at this kind of tournament.”
are not many other programs that are more deserving of the spotlight
then this team. Not just because of how well they are performing on
the field, but also because of what they do for the kids in their
program and community off the field. The main goal of this program is
to put their kids in a four year college that will ensure a great
education, but to do that, the process for actually getting to these
schools is rigorous.
the number of things that college baseball coaches look at when
recruiting a player is their GPA and SAT score, and sometimes it can
make or break whether a guy gets an offer or not. Semler and the
coaches at Bronx Baseball know that talent alone will not accomplish
the overall goal of receiving a baseball scholarship to a good
academic institution, so they have taken it upon themselves to
provide an outlet for these players to prepare themselves adequately
for the SAT and other standardized tests.
a mainly urban area it is hard to find any resources for studying for
these kinds of tests, so this program stepping in has an infinite
impact on these kids’ academic progress.
team is mainly Latino. Most, but not all of our players are of
Dominican descent,” Semler said. “We support a mainly urban,
underserved Bronx population of gifted athletes and our goal is to
help them to use baseball as a means to gain a college scholarship.
We are trying to help our players to become, in many cases, the first
in their families to attend college.
discovered that being a phenomenal ballplayer isn’t enough to get
you into college. Some of our top players were failing to get
baseball scholarships at the schools of their choice because of their
low SAT scores. These are smart, hardworking and goal-oriented kids,
but they have been poorly prepared by their schools; so we started
offering free SAT tutoring, as well as writing tutoring to any of our
high school payers who want it. This is something we are very proud
of, and we plan to expand into subject tutoring.”
importance placed on academics is definitely admirable, and as they
continue to expand their program, the Bronx Bombers are setting a
great example of how education and baseball go hand in hand,”
Semler continued. “What is amazing is that not only are the players
of the Bronx Bombers driven to pursue academic excellence, but they
also have a strong urgency to help others around their community.
year our players are helping others in the NYC community. We have
partnered with several different nonprofit organizations that help
underserved kids in New York City, and we are giving them free
baseball clinics and general fitness training. We are so proud of our
players and coaches who are volunteering their time to help other NYC
the field, these kids are role models, but once it is time to compete
between the lines, these players put their game faces on. They are
not a loud team that likes to get in the head of the opponent, nor do
they carry a tremendous sense of energy like other successful teams;
they are a team that plays calm and collected, always keeping their
emotions in check and always picking each other up. The Bombers are
as humble as it gets, and their quiet confidence seems to be really
working for them.
is a team with continuity, longevity, chemistry and brotherhood.
every player in the lineup for the Bombers is getting the job done,
but there are a few standouts; second baseman Zach Semler, Eric
Semler's son, is hitting .444, and first baseman Xavier Vargas is
hitting .471. What’s even more impressive is that their best
performer this week, third baseman Jason Pineda, is hitting about 200
points better than those two. Pineda has been on a legendary tear
this week, and is hitting .667 with one home run, 10 RBI and 11 runs
for more than a third of the Bombers offense, Pineda has garnered a
lot of attention this week and doesn’t seem to have any thoughts of
letting up on opposing pitchers. On Tuesday he picked up a few more
RBI with a double and a triple in his first two at-bats. Pineda is
thrilled to be having the tournament he is having, and credits his
team for having his back.
factor in my success this tournament is having my team right behind
me,” Pineda said. “They have had my back the entire tournament.
My approach at the plate all week has been get behind the baseball
and put it in play, because anything can happen in baseball. As we
exit pool play, we’re going to have the same mentality; work hard,
put the ball in play, and have your teammate’s back.”
biggest supporter, his mother Valenci, has been there to watch him
develop into the great player that he is every step of the way. She
has done a fine job of raising Jason to be a nice, respectable young
man, and is having the time of her life watching her son perform so
well on such a huge stage.
so happy to see him play like this,” Valenci Pineda said of her
son. “He always wants to play baseball all the time and he loves
this game. This is wonderful, and it’s not only because he’s my
kid, but because he is playing so hard. I’ve always tried to teach
him to be a good person and get along with people.
from the Dominican Republic, and my mother always said that (I) have
to be the best person that I can be in life, and that is what I’m
teaching him too. Jason wants to play in the major leagues, but I
tell him to put education first, because he could get hurt and this
could all go away. He has done a good job of that so far.”
and his teammates have done an outstanding job so far, but there is
still much work to do. At this point in the tournament, it starts to
become a real grind, and these players know that their job here at
the LakePoint complex is not finished until they are able to hoist
the championship trophy.
all about refueling for the next day after a hard fought win, and the
Bombers have taken a liking to a local Dominican restaurant named
Punta Cana. They have been eating there almost every night, and with
how fantastic they have been playing this week, they feel that Punta
Cana is their good luck charm.
their victory on Tuesday afternoon they deserve to feast on some rice
and beans, Dominican style.