By: Jossi De La Torre
WEST PALM BEACH— This past weekend at the Tucci Endless Summer Classic two teams traveled over 1,000 miles to compete amongst the most elite players and coaches. Perfect Game Youth Florida Reporting was able to speak one-on-one with the New Jersey Cardinals and Rhode Island Prospect Baseball on the topic of going the distance for baseball.
Cody Ortega, head coach of Rhode Island Prospect, expressed his eagerness to bring his players together by “taking an away-trip” more specifically, “a competitive away trip.” Due to his relationship with Perfect Game Youth Florida, Ortega disclosed his trust and enthusiasm towards PGFYL’s ability to assemble a competitive competition.
When asked, how was your overall experience with Perfect Game Youth Florida, Ortega answered, “Nothing but good things to say, games started on times, obviously the facility speaks for itself, we’ve been to a lot of good places but by far this is the best facility we’ve ever stepped on, umpires were great.”
Ortega, expressed some difficulties in terms of playing-time due to the Florida having an advantage of playing year-round, “The tough thing I tell these guys is that we are getting a short amount of time to come together, to be successful, to learn how to win.”
Being an out of state team, simple but tedious tasks are presented, like finding a hotel or simply being informed of the area in which the tournament is being held. Ortega expressed the willingness and professionalism that PGYFL provided throughout the process of traveling to Florida.
“Everything we did, everything we’ve done down here, has been 5-star. We couldn’t ask for anything better,” Ortega said.
Second and third baseman Mike Swanholm, disclosed his thoughts on traveling all the way to Florida with his teammates, “It’s great! It’s such a fun experience to come down here, we don’t get to do this a lot, a lot of our tournaments are up North. To be able to play against competition like this, in such an environment like this, is really fun.”
When asked what he like most about traveling to Florida, Swanholm said, “Playing in weather like this. Playing on fields like this, we have nothing like this at home and the competition is better and we like to see that.”
Swanholm went on to say, “We play good teams up North but they are not as common as down here. I have to say, every team we played down here were pretty good.”
TJ Delvecchio, head coach of North Jersey Cardinals, was driven by his close friend Peter Tucci, founder and owner of Tucci Lumber Bats and partner of PGYFL, to participate in the Tucci Endless Summer Classic.
When asked, what measures were taken to prepare his team for an out-of-state tournament, Delvecchio answered, “In the last two weeks we’ve been preparing ourselves to come down here because we knew the competition was going to be fierce.”
This being the Cardinal’s first wood bat tournament, Delvecchio expressed the difficulty in preparing his team but communicated how pleased he was of his team’s performance with the change in batting wood, “It was our first tournament with the wood bat and we did a pretty good job. I am proud of my boys. I got to be honest with you, I love each and every one of them like they’re my own son. Bottom line is they play hard and that’s all I care about.”
When asked what adversities were presented Delvecchio answered, “The first team that we played, played 122 games and we’re at game number 48. What we do up there, is we play small ball so we may be bunting a lot, we got to generate runs. We try to give the kids as many at bats as possible because we don’t have advantage of playing down here in this beautiful weather and beautiful facility it’s unbelievable. We are blessed to be here, super happy to be here.”
When asked what his overall experience was like playing in a PGYFL tournament, Delvecchio answered, “This has been an amazing experience for the boys, the facilities are outrageous, the guys who work on the field, they make them perfect every day. Let me tell you, we don’t get this at home it’s been a great experience. Getting outside of playing New Jersey and getting away seeing the same kind of teams all the time, you really see what you are really made of when you leave the state.”