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Manteca 12U squad headed to Cooperstown
5 Mantecans will visit HOF, compete for national title
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The Manteca Baseball Club’s 12-and-under team – made up of players from Manteca, Tracy, Lodi and Escalon – will be headed to Cooperstown, N.Y. the week of June 7 to compete at the Cooperstown Dreams Park and American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame Invitational Tournament.

Only a small percentage of local players get a chance to experience it. This year’s Manteca Baseball Club squad will consist of five players from Manteca, including Louis Aquila, Harley Boynton, Evan Heath, Ethan Johnson and Ramiro Suarez.

“This is a special opportunity in a sense that they get to do something that a lot of kids don’t get the opportunity to do, and luckily they have the parents to support it,” said Greg Wilson, the owner of the Manteca Baseball and Softball Academy and an assistant varsity coach at Sierra.

The head coach of this Cooperstown-bound squad is East Union assistant baseball coach Paul Chavez, who also coaches the Manteca Baseball Club’s 18-and-under team.

Chavez will be joined by two Sierra varsity baseball players, seniors Dakota Connors and Jacob Vaughan. Connors, who signed a National Letter of Intent to attend and play ball at Cal State East Bay, has in fact been to the Cooperstown Dreams Parks previously with an a club out of Stockton.

“I got the chance to play (at Cooperstown) as a 12-year old,” said Connors, currently the shortstop and captain of Sierra, which will be aiming at taking a Valley Oak League championship from Manteca Monday and Tuesday. “Now I’m going back to experience it as a coach. We’re going there to have fun and to obviously win, but it’s going to be a great opportunity especially to see how the kids react.”

The Cooperstown Dreams Park consists of 22 professionally-groomed fields and will feature other ball clubs from all over the country. Cooperstown is also the location of the MLB’s Hall of Fame shrine that the boys will also get to experience.

“I have to be honest, all of the coaches are probably looking forward to this more than the players,” said Vaughan, who is batting .250 for Sierra with eight RBIs this year. “With the group we have, it’s going to be a very good time.”

Wilson added: “It’s a great opportunity because they all get to see the baseball Hall of Fame and play against other kids from all over the country. We intend on doing this for the upcoming years because there are a great group of parents behind this.”

Over 100 teams will attend Cooperstown for 13 weeks, and every week there will be a different national champion crowned from May 31 through Aug. 29. The Manteca players will also get to experience a dorm-like setting for the entire week along with the other kids from the Tracy Baseball Club and the one from Escalon and Lodi.

“If for nothing else a group of 12-year olds get to spend a week together in a dorm setting and play baseball together for a week,” Wilson concluded.

Each team is guaranteed at least seven games and there will also be various skill competitions throughout the week as well.