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June 14, 2012

 

Citi Field next step for Woods

Advances in Pitch, Hit & Run

BaseballJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Jake Woods of Cortland will compete in the Team Championship Pitch, Hit & Run competition Saturday at Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets.

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer

Jake Woods is headed to New York’s Citi Field Saturday.
The 14-year-old son of Elaine DeRado of Cortland and Craig Woods of Gouverneur, and the stepson of Cortland’s Tony DeRado and Jessica Woods of Gouverneur will be a guest at the New York Mets’ night game against the Cincinnati Reds after he deals with the true business at hand. He will be competing in the Major League Baseball Aquafina Pitch, Hit & Run Team Championship competition in the Boys’ 13-14 age group.
Woods, who pitched and played shortstop for the Cortland High junior varsity this spring and this summer is on both the Cortland Teeners 14-Under squad and the Elks team in the Cortland County Babe Ruth League, earned the trip — and the right to compete at the major league stadium — by winning at the Sectional level June 2 at Stonehedge Elementary School in Camillus.
He qualified for that competition by taking the running portion of the local Boys’ 13-14 event at Testa Park on May 6. Marathon’s Ryan Tillotson, who advanced to compete in Yankee Stadium last year, was the local winner, but Woods amassed 1,329 points at Sectionals to win. He was the only player at any level to turn in a 6-for-6 performance pitching at a major league strike zone from 46 feet, hit a ball 237 feet and just two feet off-line from a tee and ran 160 feet from a bit past second base to home in 7.41 seconds.
His score was compared with other sectional winners in the state, and was good enough to earn him one of three spots from his age group at the Team Championship level.
“My stepdad (who will accompany Woods to New York) made a pitching frame, and three or four days before the competition we went to Stonehedge Elementary,” said Woods, who plays golf and basketball in addition to baseball and is also a juggler. “I hit, ran and pitched to familiarize myself with it. They typed up the scoring on a computer and when they told me I had the highest score I was excited. I couldn’t believe there was that much of a difference. I’d scored in the 900s at Testa.
“I thought the hitting would be my best area, but I hit the tee the first two times. I smacked the tee lower on the second try than the first, but I didn’t think about the fact that if I did it again I’d lose and hit the ball well.”
Woods was confident but not totally sure about his chances for advancement, despite assurances from Tillotson, who was third at Sectionals, that there was no doubt. The e-mail came this past Friday, and when he found out he was indeed headed to New York City, via a text from his mother during Spanish class (”The teacher said it was OK”) at Cortland Junior-Senior High, he did a victory lap around the classroom.
Despite the fact that Woods is a Yankees fan, he said of going to the Mets’ home field that “It’s fine. I don’t care as long as I’m competing I’ve never been to a major league stadium other than Yankee Stadium. It’s pretty cool.”
In addition to Woods and Tillotson, other local competitors at the Team Championship level, all from Cortland, have been Mike Avery in 2001 (Shea Stadium), Brian Hughes in 1995 (old Yankee Stadium) and 2009 (new Yankee Stadium, where he won the Boys’ 13-14 title) and Justin Prentice in 2009 and 2010 (new Yankee Stadium, also winning the Boys’ 13-14 title in 2010).
The Team Championship competition will take place on Saturday morning, with the players and their guests (each participant receives two game tickets, including one for themselves) attending the Mets’ game that night. All eight age-group winners, in boys — and girls competing with softballs — ages 7-8, 9-10, 11-12 and 13-14, will be recognized in pre-game ceremonies, with their names on the scoreboard.
Once all 30 of the MLB Team Championships are complete, the scores will be compared and the top three in each age group will advance to the National Finals, which will be part of the festivities associated with the Major League All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. July 10.
CROWN CITY Little League baseball playoffs in the Minor Division resume tonight at Testa Park in Cortland, with minor schedule adjustments following rainouts on Tuesday.
The Rockies and Giants will meet at 6 p.m. in one quarterfinal round game while the Reds and Astros play at the same time. The top-seeded Nationals and second-seeded Mets await the winners in Saturday’s semifinals at noon, with the title game to be played Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The Crown City Major League title game is Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Testa Park, with the Brewers taking on the Padres.

 

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