Back in the RBI World Series for the first time since it captured the Senior championship two years ago, 14 youngsters from all over the Harrisburg area will open play in the 2015 Series Wednesday afternoon in suburban Dallas, Texas.
Up first for Rob Martin’s bunch will be a pool-play scrap with Arizona (12:30 p.m.) at Colleyville (Texas) High School. Harrisburg will play a second game on Wednesday at Colleyville, meeting the Chicago Cubs/Urban League side (9:30).
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Harrisburg will close out pool play Thursday morning (10 a.m.) — all times listed are Eastern — against the Miami Marlins at Bicentennial Park.
Cincinnati, Houston, Paterson (N.J.) and Puerto Rico are in the other pool.
Martin’s talented group will move into a seeded, single-elimination bracket on Friday against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. Should Harrisburg prevail in the quarterfinals, a semifinal-round scrap also will be played Friday.
Should Harrisburg advance to the Senior title game for the second time in three years — Harrisburg captured the 2013 title at Target Field in Minneapolis — that final will be played at Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers.
Five of Martin’s players — former Central Dauphin standout Connor Anderson (Harford C.C.), Bishop McDevitt’s John Brubaker, Susquehanna Twp.’s Christian Ciotti, Lower Dauphin’s Blair Lewis and Harrisburg’s Anthony Washington — are part of Harrisburg’s Senior Team (16-18) for the second year in a row.
“This is, without question, in the seven years I’ve been doing this, one of the most talented teams that I’ve had,” admitted Martin, who also coaches the Susquehanna Twp. High School program. “The chemistry is absolutely wonderful. They love playing with each other. They love the game of baseball.”
Harrisburg, which is competing in its fourth RBI Senior World Series in five years, punched its latest ticket last month by capturing the Mid-Atlantic Regionals at Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie, Md.
Martin’s group swept past five opponents to win the Mid-Atlantic Region. West Perry’s Ben Dum was part of Harrisburg’s Mid-Atlantic squad, but he’s scheduled to report to Virginia Commonwealth University this week and will not be able to travel to Texas for the RBI World Series.
Major League Baseball, which initiated its RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program in 1989, designed the program to increase participation in diverse communities by creating opportunities for teens to learn and enjoy baseball and softball.
NOTES — Washington received the runner-up award for RBI’s “Breaking Barriers” essay contest. The contest was judged by Sharon Robinson, the daughter of late Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson, who debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and played 10 seasons for the National League club, was the first African-American to play in the major leagues in the modern era. Sharon Robinson also presented the award.
Below is Harrisburg’s roster:
HARRISBURG SENIOR RBI
OF: Chris Ciotti, Susquehanna Twp.
OF: Michael Geesaman, Lower Dauphin
OF: John Brubaker, Bishop McDevitt
OF: Colby Schearer, Central Dauphin
OF: Jeremy Sultzaberger, Susquenita
IF: Zack Sims, Middletown
IF: Connor Anderson, Harford CC (Central Dauphin)
IF: Stephen McInturff, CD East
IF-P: Austin Dressler, Susquehanna Twp.
IF-P: Blair Lewis, Lower Dauphin
P: Aaron Gress, Central Dauphin
P: Anthony Washington, Harrisburg
C: Tyler Friedrich, Lower Dauphin
Head coach: Rob Martin
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