It is with great pride and sorrow; I say goodbye to Brigade Baseball’s first graduating class.
Superstition Brigade Baseball has participated in the USSSA league for the past 2 years. The team was built of 12, 13 and 14 year olds from Apache Junction and the east valley. Team Manager, Dan Koesser, along with Coaches Steve Darling, Sean Brennan and Dave Abbatacola helped 20 players experience play against top talent from across Arizona and neighboring states.
The Brigade was built around a solid core of players from the Apache Junction area. Players performing 2 years of play included Colton Koesser, Brett Darling, Connor Brennan, Adam Abbatacola, Dustin Chernesky, Danny Knueppel, Enrique Rivera-Valenzuela and Joshua Mageo. Others participating in Brigade Baseball included: Joseph Botta, Jeremiah Claxton, Austin Eccleston, Jack Golzio, Carson Griesemer, Gage Grimes, Raymond Kimble, Jacob Martinez, Aiden McIntyre, Brian Ranft, Justin Schrader and Luciano Tortorella.
The Brigade finished strong in 2010, finishing in 9th place of the 44 Arizona teams in the 14 and Under AA Division. The Brigade ranked 140th of 1167 teams in the United States.
The teams 2010 line-up included, First Baseman Adam Abbatacola, Second Baseman Colton Koesser, Shortstop Enrique Rivera, 3rd Baseman Luciano Tortorella, Catcher Brett Darling, Pitcher Dustin Chernesky, Center Fielder Danny Knueppel, Left Fielder Justin Schrader, Right Fielder Connor Brennan and Utility Players Joseph Botta, Austin Eccleston, Carson Griesemer, Jacob Martinez and Joshua Mageo.
Highlights from the past season include victories over high ranked teams. The Brigade beat the Maricopa Titans 11-4, when Maricopa was ranked 2nd in the state. The game was highlighted by a 7 run first inning that included home runs from Joshua Mageo and Enrique Rivera. The game ended with brilliant fielding including an ESPN Highlight diving catch by center fielder Danny Knueppel and double plays by Colton Koesser, Enrique Rivera, Dustin Chernesky and Brett Darling.
An 11 to 8 Brigade victory over the SE Badgers, ranked 8th nationally, brought the Brigade into the semi-finals in an April tournament. Solid play from the entire team made the victory possible.
Adam Abbatacola pitched the Brigade’s first shutout, leading the Brigade to a 1-0 victory over the Warriors. Justin Schrader’s RBI single scored the games only run. Defensive plays were highlighted by the play of catcher Luciano Tortorella, who made a diving catch on a pop fly behind the plate for the third out, stranding runners in scoring position.
The Brigade’s last victory was an 8-0 win over the AZ Mission. Brigade pitcher, Joey Botta, threw a complete game gem giving up just 2 hits.
The team found wins hard to come by when playing league play against teams in higher divisions. While many of the Brigade players participated in football, the Brigade was kept alive by four 12 year old Apache Junction players, Brian Ranft, Jack Golzio, Raymond Kimble and Gage Grimes. The team will never forget the courage and determination these young players showed.
To be on a Club Team takes a strong commitment. It takes hard work and dedication. It builds trust, bonds families and defines leadership, team players and sportsmanship. It is rewarding and at times frustrating. What a wonderful experience for the coaches and parents watching these players grow into young men.
#8 Adam Abbatacola - 1st Base, Pitcher, Outfield
Adam is our Lefty. He always plays hard and smart. Had some great outings at the mound including the Brigades first complete game shut out. His bat came alive late in the season. Good contact hitter.
#74 Joseph Botta - Left Field, Pitcher
Joey joined the team late into the 2010 season. He pitched a complete game shut out advancing the Brigade into the Silver Championship game. Joey is impressive with his ability to paint the corners of the plate and keeping the ball low.
#11Connor Brennan - Outfield, 2nd Base
Con always gives you his all. He is a good contact hitter and led the team in sacrificed bunts. Connor was on base three times with two hits in the game leading to the semi-finals. Mr. Black and Blue, was hit with the ball three times in one game in 2009, once at the plate, once at first and once at third.
#34 Dustin Chernesky - Pitcher, Outfield, 3rd Base
Dustin is the teams pitching ace. He got the call to throw against the toughest teams. Dustin throws a 75 mph fastball that has movement and he throws a curveball. Dustin’s batting average stayed above .500 over the past two years. He led the team in extra base hits and had a home run in the game leading to the semi-finals.
#19 Jeremiah Claxton - Catcher
Jeremiah was thrown into the catcher’s position out of necessity. He learned quickly and near the end of league play he was a general behind the plate. He knew when to throw the ball down to the bases, often catching the other team sleeping and picking off the runners. He had cat quick reflexes when getting up to throw. Jeremiah had an active bat always making contact and never striking out.
#5 Brett Darling - Catcher
Brett is a student of the game. He calls a nice game behind the plate, making sure the pitchers mix up the pitches and locations. Brett gunned down potential base stealers early and often. Many teams began to fear his arm and chose to be conservative on base. Brett is a good pull hitter and often found extra bases down the 3rd base line.
#47 Austin Eccleston - Outfield, Catcher
Austin has great tracking ability in the outfield. He can quickly react to balls hit to his side of the field. Austin is fast on the bases and has a good knowledge of the game.
#6 Jack Golzio - Outfield, 2nd Base
Jack provided the support needed during league play. His intelligence plays a big role in his ability on the field. Jack is a quick study. He is charismatic in the dugout and is a benefit to any team he plays on.
#55 Carson Griesemer - 3rd Base
Carson joined the team late and assisted in helping the team win its way to the semi finals. He has a great bat and is smart on the bases and the field.
#7 Gage Grimes - 2nd Base, SS, OF
Gage has a solid glove in the field. He tries hard and makes things look easy. Contact hitter creates good things. He is a great teammate and exhibits top sportsmanship.
#10 Raymond Kimble - Outfield, 3rd Base
Raymond demonstrated excellent sportsmanship and effort on the field. His confidence grew with time and his teammates were always pulling for him to succeed. Raymond was very helpful to the team during league play and was a fan favorite.
#99 Danny Knueppel - Center Fielder, Pitcher
Anything hit his way was most certainly going to be an out. Danny covered centerfield, right center and left center. His arm is strong enough to throw runners out at home plate; on the fly from 280 ft. Danny made numerous highlight real diving catches, turned double plays and caught aggressive runners out at 3rd and home. Danny even threw out a runner at first from a single to center.
#38 Colton Koesser - 2nd Base, 1st Base, Pitcher, Catcher
Dangerously quick, Colton led the team in stolen bases. His jump is fast and made it difficult for the opposing catchers to make a play. Colton provided a solid glove at second and was apart of many double plays. On the mound he can throw a knee buckling nasty curve ball.
#44 Aiden McIntyre - 1st Base, Pitcher
Aiden practiced with the team on and off through the last year. He participated in 3 tournament games. His rehab through a tough injury never got his spirits down. Aiden is a smart player. He takes correct angles to balls on the ground and in the air. His ability to play all positions makes him a valuable player.
#12 Joshua Mageo - 1st Base, Pitcher
Josh provided leadership on the field. The gentle giant administered the threat of power to the batting line-up. His left handed pitching delivery and speed on his fastball was an added weapon that was very intimidating to the batters he faced. He is a student of the game and keeps his head in the game until the final pitch.
#3 Jacob Martinez - 1st Base, Pitcher
Jacob was a late signee and played with the team in the final tournament. He provided another offensive weapon to the team. His heat from the mound was called upon for late inning relief.
# 26 Brian Ranft - Outfield, 2nd Base, Catcher
Brian was a 12 year old who helped the team through league play and participated in a tournament. He worked hard on all aspects of his game and his efforts were rewarded with his getting on base and advancing runners.
#22 Enrique Rivera - Shortstop
Enrique is smooth and quick. He flows well to the baseball and is not afraid to get dirty. Enrique made many double plays with his ability to make plays on balls that looked to be a certain hit for the batter. Enrique is capable of advancing extra bases when he hits the ball due to his speed on the bases. Enrique breaks to the baseball with aggressive angles.
#30 Justin Schrader -Outfield, 3rd Base
Justin enjoys playing ball. He is aggressive with the bat and drove in runs during critical times in games. He goes all out during practices and has an exceptional willingness to learn. Justin is quick on the bases and is encouraging to team mates.
#13 Luciano Tortorella - 3rd Base, Pitcher, Catcher
Luch expects his best effort on the field. He provided the team with outstanding efforts behind the plate when called upon. He was an added strong arm on the mound. Luch provided an extra powerful stick. His leadership skills helped the team in tight games.
Coach's Final Comment
I would personally like to thank the players for all of their hard work and effort. I will forever remember each and every one of you. As you begin high school ball, have confidence in your skills and remind yourself that you are “Ready for Battle”, you are the graduates of Brigade Baseball.
Be proud and play hard,