This summer all the continuity and experience finally paid off.
For the second straight year, King Philip captured the state title. They followed that by winning the New England Regional in Westfield on July 26, punching their ticket to this week’s Babe Ruth World Series in Williston, ND
“I always felt like, wow, we have to keep this group together,” said Pelkey. “These guys are all serious baseball players. They all play club as well, but there’s something special about coming together and putting on a King Philip uniform. They’re all buddies and classmates, and they take pride in that.”
The 13-player King Philip team is comprised of seven players from Norfolk, three from Wrentham, and three from Plainville — the three towns that form the regional high school.
The team will enter the World Series with plenty of momentum. King Philip is 11-0 this summer and hardly broke a sweat during districts and states.
At the New England regional, KP bounced back from last year’s semifinal exit with a pair of one runs wins over Pittsfield (7-6) and Trumbull (Conn.) (4-3) on the final day of the tournament to represent the region at the World Series.
Pelkey said last year’s experience fueled this year’s run.
“They definitely came into this season with a chip on their shoulder,” said Pelkey, whose son Charlie is on the team. “We felt we were one of the best teams out there last year and came into this summer with a lot of confidence.”
Back home, the community has rallied behind the team before they head off to North Dakota on Wednesday. Prior to Monday’s practice, the Norfolk fire department donated a check and unveiled an LED sign outside of the station in support.
The team also held a baseball clinic over the weekend, and Pelkey said the 6- and 7-year olds participating looked up to his players like big leaguers.
Since Babe Ruth is only subsidizing costs with a $250 voucher per player, the team is fundraising money so family and friends can fly out to North Dakota and cheer them on. Players paraded around the Gillette Stadium parking lot before the Elton John concert asking for donations. A GoFundMe page has also raised $21,000 or the $40,000 goal.
“We started the GoFundMe so we can have fans,” Pelkey said. “We want people there to cheer for us.”
As for the tournament, Pelkey said his team is treating the experience like a business trip. King Philip is guaranteed four pool play games, starting with Saturday’s matchup against Eau Claire Blue from the Ohio Valley region. The top four teams from the two five-team pools will advance to the single elimination round.
For a group that has accomplished so much since they were little leaguers, King Philip believes a title is attainable.
“I’d been lying if I said we didn’t feel about our chances about making a run,” said Pelkey. “We’re confident but not about cocky. We’ve played in a lot of big games together and we know what it takes.”