Three travel baseball teams representing the Urbana Youth Baseball and Softball Association won championships in their respective age groups—9-under, 10U and 11U—on June 23. The following day, programs began holding tryouts for the 2019-20 season with record registration numbers across the board, ages 8-14, Hawks 10U Coach Justin Collins said.
Urbana Hawks 10U went 4-1 to win the Atlantic “A” Division of the Mid-Atlantic Baseball Association tournament. The Hawks 9U (3-0 in playoffs) and 11U won their respective age groups at the Montgomery County Baseball Association (MCBA) championship.
“That’s another good sign of where the program is heading,” Collins said. “We’re getting a lot of notoriety from our three championships all on the same day and people are starting to realize that we’re a force to be reckoned with when it comes to baseball and the coaching and support we provide to players.”
Though Urbana Youth Baseball is aligned with the Urbana High School team, serving as a sort of farm program for future student-athletes, Hawks travel baseball is just that—a travel program geared toward training and competing at a higher level. There is great camaraderie throughout the program, among all age groups, and the priority is always to develop young players to reach their maximum potential, Collins said, but performing well and winning tournaments helps earn recognition and solidifies the name of Urbana Youth Baseball.
“We have six former Division I college baseball players coaching our travel teams,” Collins said. All of our coaches have been with the program for a good number of years, working up through the various age groups, which brings a great sense of unity within the program as well.”
After an up and down season, during which Collins said it took longer than expected to find the right combination of players in the batting order and on the field, the Hawks 10U team (12-23 record) exploded for 38 runs in three consecutive wins on the tournament’s final day to clinch the title with a 12-7 win over the Burtonsville Storm (Black). Trevor Collins and Drew Blessing led the Hawks at the plate on championship Sunday, tallying seven and six hits, respectively. Collins also drove in five runs.
Other top performers on championship Sunday included Matt Jakubowyc (seven runs batted in), Conley Hajjar (six hits, four RBI) and catcher Lucas Murdock (six hits, ve RBI). Hajjar started two games on Sunday, including the final; Blessing and Collins, who started one game on Sunday, came in to relieve him and close out the win.
Urbana Hawks 9U’s depth was on display over the course of the MCBA championship, Coach Todd Raithel said. The team, which beat Damascus 7-6 in the final, entered the tournament with an 11-7 record to earn the No. 2 seed before going undefeated—thanks to two bottom-of-the-six rallies—for the title.
The title was the result of a complete team effort, Raithel said, and featured stellar performances out of the bottom of the Hawks’ lineup. Pitchers Matthew Rodrigues and Philip Giuliani, Liam Fleet, Anthony Hines and Caleb Stilwell, who overcame an 0-2 count to drive in the winning run, shined in their final game before aging up to 10U.
The Hawks 11U went undefeated in four games at the MCBA tournament, clinching the trophy with an 11-5 win over the Olney Pirates. Zac Taylor, Jake Allen and Armando Gonzalez all tallied multiple hits; Kiegan Rupinta drove in Urbana’s first two runs. Starting pitcher Mason Johnson gave up only two runs in three innings. The Hawks 11U finished the season 35-10.
“(June 23) was a banner day for Urbana Youth Baseball,” Collins said. “It really means a lot to the program.”