For the first time in its 46-year history, the Greater Manassas Baseball League has a team in a national World Series.
The Manassas Mustangs will play the mid-west winner at 8 p.m. Aug. 2 at the Cal Ripken-Babe Ruth World Series in Williamsburg.
The Mustangs, made up of 10-year-olds, advanced to the national championship tournament by winning the district and state titles.
In the District 8 tournament, the Mustangs went undefeated, defeating the host Summit Point, W. Va., team 14-1 in the opening game. They then swept Fauquier National, 25-0; Winchester 10-2; and Winchester again, 7-5, in the final game as Winchester came back in the losers’ bracket to advance to the championship game.
In the state tournament, which they won Monday in Staunton, the Mustangs lost their opening game 6-1 before coming back and winning five straight games and advancing to the World Series.
In the losers’ bracket they beat Greene County 6-0; Herndon 14-10; Staunton 19-1 and then beat undefeated Glen Allen twice, 9-3 and 6-0 to grab the state title.
Top hitters included Anthony Valenti, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, Brandon Corbin, Matt Kelly, Josh Swirchak, Danny Metz and Dominique Terrell.
The team is currently seeking donations to help pay for lodging and meals in Williamsburg.
“The players have really worked hard to reach the national tournament and they are really excited,” said manager Mike Corbin.
As an incentive, Corbin and his coaches promised the players that if they won the state tournament they would shave the hair off their heads.
They did that Tuesday evening at the GMBL complex. Each player took a turn with electric clippers in clipping off locks of hair from Corbin and Derek Crowe as they sat on a pail along the third base line.
Parents of the players cheered them on from the bleachers.
Corbin said the team is in the process of getting a large banner made up with the name “Mustangs” on it. Each person or business that contributes $350 or more will have their name imprinted on the banner, which they will take to Williamsburg with them. The team had conducted car washes, sold doughnuts and held yard sales to raise money to finance their earlier trips but, according to Corbin, “the trip to Williamsburg will be much more expensive and we don’t have the time to really hold fund-raisers.”
The squad is made up from the top players that participated in the GMBL Minor AA league during the regular season. They consisted of the Marlins, who won the league title, the Rockies, who Corbin coached, and the Reds, Red Sox, Yankees and Braves.
Corbin has coached most of the players since they were eight, going through their ‘Rookies’ and ‘Minor A’ seasons. The team won the states and had advanced to the regionals when they were eight.
Corbin has been a coach or manager in the league for 12 years and was selected by his peers to manager the Mustangs in their quest for a national title.
Shawn Schultz, a pitcher and outfielder on the team who played for the Braves during the regular season, summed up the feelings of his fellow players when he said Tuesday during a practice session, “I’m really fired up. I want to bring the championship trophy home to Manassas.”
Adam Gontkovic, who also pitches and plays shortstop and was a Yankee, said, “I really feel good about winning the state tournament and going to play in the national event.”
Mary Clarke, a long time board member of the league who has been helping with arrangements for tournament participants, said, “It’s fantastic that after all these years we have a team in a national tournament.
We are very proud of them.” Clarke said the 12-year-old Nationals, the 11-year old Patriots and a nine-year-old team that were all District 8 runner-ups.
Corbin said plans are in the making to run a charter bus to Williamsburg for spectators who want to see the Mustangs in action.