WATERVILLE — For Andy Valley manager Joe Trybus, success is all about the team.
The Cal Ripken World Series baseball tournament gives out “player of the game” awards after each contest, but Trybus isn’t concerned about who wins those awards for his squad.
“We’re actually one of those teams that doesn’t like those awards, because we talk about being a team all the time,” Trybus said. “I’m a team guy first, and sometimes individual awards get to kids’ heads.”
But these awards have certainly not deterred Andy Valley. The 12U boys are 3-1 in the Cal Ripken Major 60 World Series tournament in Waterville and they’ve relied on their incredible depth throughout the way.
“We’re the only team in the tournament that hasn’t pitched a kid twice,” Trybus said. “Some teams pitch the same kid every day. It tells you what kind of pitching depth we have.”
Each of those pitchers — Carter Davis, Rowen Pulkkinen, Tucker Hilden and Jacoby Boyce — has won player of the game honors after their respective performances.
One of those pitchers, Boyce, threw a perfect game in Tuesday’s 10-0 win over Noble, based out of North Berwick.
Andy Valley has depth with the bats, too.
“We have a lot of depth hitting. We have a kid who hits once a game, and he’s 5 for 5,” Trybus said. “So, that’s where we’re at; we’re very lucky.”
“The top seven kids can handle any speed and change of pace. The other ones aren’t doing it as consistently, but they can still do it on any given day,” Trybus added.
Andy Valley didn’t exactly have the start it expected.
In the team’s first game of National division pool play, The Oxford Hills-based club lost 2-1 to the team from Weymouth, Massachusetts.
“It was too many jitters. My own son admitted that he never felt more nervous for a game,” Trybus said. “We’re a pretty good hitting team and we don’t strike out much, but we went through the lineup the first time and struck out seven times. We usually don’t strike out seven times in an entire game.”
There were also some mistakes defensively that cost them the game.
“We had two dropped balls in the outfield, which is very uncharacteristic. And we had a couple of base-running mistakes,” Trybus said. “We only lost 2-1. When you have a low-scoring game like that, you can’t afford to make mistakes. We had three errors and that was how they scored their runs.”
However, Andy Valley responded with vigor in its next three games.
With scores of 10-0, 21-0 and 10-0, Andy Valley dominated West Hartford, Connecticut, Southeast Shenandoah, Virginia, and Noble, respectively. The team hasn’t allowed a run since its opening loss, giving Andy Valley the best run-preventing defense at the tournament. The team has also put up the most runs in the tournament, meaning it has the best run-differential of any team.
This success on both sides of the ball has earned Andy Valley a spot in the championship bracket, where the team will have a chance to face some tougher opponents moving forward.
“We’ve got tougher competition coming,” Trybus said. “Kentucky (on Wednesday in the final pool-play game) is going to be a challenge. They’ve got three kids throwing 70-plus (miles per hour).”
The Andy Valley boys have been together for a few years, and they’ve grown accustomed to playing with each other.
All 12 of the players on this year’s team were on last year’s 11U regional-winning team, and 10 of the 12 players were on the 9U team three years ago.
This camaraderie and togetherness allowed Andy Valley to win the tournament’s skills competition at Friday’s opening ceremony.
The players’ times in the base-running and around-the-horn events blew away the competition, but Trybus isn’t taken aback.
“I don’t want to say we’re dominating, but we’re playing very well,” Trybus said. “We’re very skilled. And I think that showed in the skills competition.”
Photo: Maine Celtics camp a slam dunk