By Phil Corso
The Bayside Yankees senior scout team charged the mound with excitement earlier this month after clinching a spot as one of 10 teams nationwide going to the 2012 Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, N.M.
The team, made up of mostly high school seniors, slugged its way to the top of a 60-team national qualifier in New Jersey between July 2 and 7, defeating the Dallas Patriots of Texas 7-5 in the championship game. The team includes several Queens residents and plays throughout the northeast with a home field in the Bronx.
“We are going to Farmington with just one goal in mind,” said Yankees founder and 32-year Senior Head Coach Marc Cuseta. “That is to play hard, represent our organization proudly and hope to be the last team standing with our first Connie Mack National Championship.”
The Yankees will enter the World Series with an overall 2012 record of 35-12-1, led by big-hitting shortstop Wardy Polanco, who leads the team with 60 hits, 16 doubles and 44 runs batted in. Pitching ace Jordan Hillyer will get the ball for the opening game against the Strikezone Cardinals of New Mexico Aug. 4.
Hillyer, a recruit of the Kennesaw State University of Georgia, leads the team’s pitching staff in innings pitched with 54 and strikeouts with 64.
The Connie Mack World Series will celebrate 48 years in 2012 and features 10 teams from throughout the country, which compete for the title of champions. The Midland Redskins of Cincinnati will defend the title, which they have won four times since 2007.
The series might also mark a huge milestone for Cuseta, who enters the Connie Mack World Series with an overall coaching record of 1,998-650-9 with Bayside, with a .754 winning percentage.
“Around here, it’s T-E-A-M first, so any personal milestones and achievements that come this week will have to be put on the back burner,” Cuseta said. “But I would be lying if I told you the number 2,000 is not on my mind.”
Cuseta, who founded the team and has developed its players throughout its 32-year tenure, said he saw the team’s advancement into the World Series as much more than an opportunity to play championship ball.
“I have spent my entire adult life at the helm of this baseball organization,” Cuseta said. “And if we are lucky enough to get two wins in the 2012 Connie Mack World Series, then there is no better venue in amateur baseball that I would want to share that milestone in rather than Farmington.”
The Bayside Yankees organization has won 18 national championships in 31 summer seasons at several age levels, but has yet to capture the Connie Mack World Series crown.
“It is our No. 1 goal every year when we start practice in the gym in the frigid cold of January and continues to be our No. 1 goal as we head to Farmington next week,” Cuseta said.
The Bayside Yankees will hold all ages tryouts for the 2012 fall teams and 2013 summer teams Aug. 4 -5 at St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf at 1000 Hutchinson River Pkwy. in the Bronx and Aug. 11-12 at a location to be determined.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.