By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – With a 13-3 victory over the Edgewood Phillies on Sunday, Aug. 21, the Forestville Dodgers swept the 2016 Bristol Little League Baseball City Series.
And it was a major triumph for the program.
For the second straight season, Forestville was crowned champion as, one year previous, the Reds – behind some outstanding play of Wes Pierce and one heck of a team around him – won the league’s first City Series title since the 1992 Forestville Dodgers were the kings of the diamond.
Eleven talented young men and three excellent coaches battled from the start, having to play a little extra innings to topple Edgewood the squad’s first showdown and eventually seeing the Dodgers nab the championship with three straight wins.
And to think three short years ago, the future of the Forestville Little League program was as gloomy as a rainy day in Seattle.
It would have been a sad day if Forestville Little League was no more.
The history of Forestville Little League started in 1954 and the main baseball field, named after Robert S. Watson Sr., honors a man who bled, sweat, and build up – not just an outstanding program at Forestville – but groomed hundreds of youngsters into outstanding baseball players in the city.
He was a Bristol Hall of Fame inductee in 1999 and, according to his bio on the website, Watson was truly “Mr. Little League.”
One year after Forestville Little League’s inception, Watson began coaching for the program in 1955, and continued to mentor kids for over 40 years there.
And then nearly 21 years later, Watson helped lead a squad from Forestville Little League to the 1976 World Series.
That was one of the few years the annual Bristol City Series wasn’t played as the program had bigger fish to fry that summer.
In 1995, Watson was selected as Connecticut’s “Volunteer of the Year” and, along with several other dedicated volunteers, kept the program going since his retirement.
But those lean years almost caused the closure of the program.
However, those days are clearly passed the program.
Even more dedicated volunteers helped to keep the program afloat and now more than ever, big changes are still reshaping Forestville Little League.
In July, Forestville once again hosted the Watson Memorial Minors Baseball tournament as several neighboring programs battled from the ever growing facility.
Recently, Forestville added a T-Ball and instructional field to the property.
There’s also a couple professional looking batting cages and a pitching lane which has enhanced the facility as well.
The instructional field even has a huge boulder at the edge of left-center field, one of the reminders of what could have been if the program wasn’t saved.
It’s a beautiful additional to the growing complex.
And there are going to be some renovations to the dugouts at Watson Field soon, proving that Forestville Little League isn’t going anywhere.
The Forestville Dodgers, the 2016 City Series champs, had to battle all the odds to even make it to the championship series.
And that’s just in terms of Forestville Little League play.
On June 18, the Dodgers narrowly defeated the A’s, 4-3 – earning a right to advance to Breen Field and a chance at the City Series trophy.
The A’s defeated the Reds to earn a shot to battle the Dodgers in a very competitive affair.
But in the end, the Dodgers won it all and represented Forestville with skill and plenty of pride.
“I’ll tell you what, this team’s played well all year,” said Dodgers’ manager Jim Lorenzetti. “We went 16-4 in the regular season. Forestville won the city series last year so we [wanted] to repeat.”
“This [made] our year.”
The 2016 Forestville Dodgers
Roster of Champions
5: Jayden Churchill
6: Mike Lorenzetti
13: Matt Beaucar
14: Logan Schenck
7: Connor Cyr
4: Gabe Gonzalez
11: Julian Fassett
12: Nashon Price
10: Christian Molina
1: Jayden Santiago
Manager: Jim Lorenzetti
Coach: Gordon Schenck