Typically after a professional, or even collegiate, sports team wins a national championship, the traditional festivities include a trip to the White House and a parade around its home city.
Young baseball players in Berlin Borough will receive a similar treatment later this year when they take a trip to Borough Hall to be honored by the Berlin Borough Council after a parade around the borough in honor of their hard work and dedication.
According to vice president Mike Iuliucci, Berlin Borough and Berlin Township merged approximately two seasons ago to combine its youth baseball leagues in an effort to increase overall participation and competition. While participation in the Cal Ripken Baseball League is chartered under Berlin Township and Little League is chartered under Berlin Borough, children from both towns have the opportunity to participate in each, all run under the shared Berlin Athletic Association.
This past season, the collective Berlin team was crowned the Southern New Jersey State Babe Ruth Baseball 9U State Tournament champions, showing the “revival of baseball” across Berlin that Berlin AA was hoping to create.
“It’s been a big revival of baseball across Berlin” said Iuliucci. “That’s all because of bringing in Berlin Township and having the two communities play together.”
Iuliucci says youth baseball across the program has seen a 15 percent rise each year over the past three years. In doing so, it’s also allowed for better competition and more training and practice, leading the Berlin Knights 9U team to be as successful as it was this past season.
“We had established the Berlin Knights travel program through Berlin AA three years ago to give the kids a little taste of competitive baseball,” said Iuliucci. “So these kids have been together for three years now.”
After a successful regular season, the 13 kids placed second in Cal Ripken Baseball District III before winning the state championship in Brick Township, defeating Marlton, Moorestown and Mt. Laurel in the tournament. Doing so got the kids the chance to compete in the Middle Atlantic Regional Tournament.
Across the entire season, Iuliucci says the team went 24-14, while also winning the GVAA Memorial Day Tournament during the season.
“It’s great to see the kids come together after three years, they earned it,” said Iuliucci. “It’s a great accomplishment for them after how hard they worked.”
After coaching the team the first two years of its existence, Steve Nakovitch took over as head coach this past season, helping lead the team to its recent success.
In celebration of the team’s success, the Berlin Knights 9U team has been invited to visit Berlin Borough’s council meeting Thursday, Sept. 12 to be honored with a proclamation. Prior to the meeting, the players will tour Berlin Borough with Berlin Fire Co. to visit approximately six major developments as a parade around the borough.