MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Detroit Metro Stars catcher Chad Roskelly is looking forward to being a part of the 50th American Amateur Baseball Congress 18U World Series.
The 2013 Macomb Dakota grad, who now plays at Michigan State University, is one of 19 players on the Metro Stars. The AABC 18U World Series brings together 10 teams from 10 regions. The Metro Stars (42-5-0 at press time) represent the North Central Region. The remaining teams in the double-elimination tournament, which began after press time and runs through Aug. 8 in Farmington, New Mexico, are from Louisiana, Texas, California, Ohio, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Ohio and New York. It takes six wins to claim the AABC 18U title.
Roskelly, one of 15 Metro Stars signed to play at the NCAA level, feels the team is on a mission to win the tournament. Only two Michigan teams have won the AABC 18U title — Saginaw in 1980 and Madison Heights in 1988.
“Everybody on the team is pretty close, and we know what we’re going after,” Roskelly said. “Whatever the coaches say, we roll with it. Ultimately, the goal is to win the championship. Hopefully, we can show the southern teams how to play some northern baseball.”
The team is led by Warren Mott coach Shawn Maloney and features the most wins of any team in the 10-squad field. Michigan has had a team in the field in 31 of 50 years. This is the first team from Macomb County to advance to the AABC World Series since 1990.
“It really is a big deal for baseball around here,” said Maloney, who guided a team featuring players from Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, along with athletes from Grand Rapids and Grand Blanc. “To represent Macomb County is a big deal for us. We’re really excited.”
The tournament itself is a big deal, as well. Maloney said the city of Farmington, New Mexico, treats the weeklong tournament like a version of the College World Series. The AABC provides some funding to ensure teams can participate. The Metro Stars held a fundraiser July 25 to cover the remaining costs.
The players will stay with host families for the duration of the trip. The Metro Stars will be sponsored by an Elks lodge, which will outfit an entire section with Metro Stars T-shirts. The Elks club will also provide the team with food and support it in other ways, according to Maloney.
“It’s really unbelievable what they do for the tournament,” Maloney said. “It’s going to be a great experience. I’m just glad to be a part of all of this.”
“This is going to be insane,” said Metro Stars pitcher Andrew Gonzalez, a 2014 Walled Lake Western grad who is signed to play at MSU. “During the season, I didn’t really understand how big of a deal it was until we qualified. I’ve never played in front of so many people. I’m excited.”
The Metro Stars advanced to the AABC World Series by winning the Battle Creek North Central Region Championship July 23. The Stars play in the Macomb Amateur Baseball Federation and finished league play July 25. The team has played in a tournament each weekend this summer in places such as Bowling Green, Ohio; Kalamazoo; and East Lansing.
“Now we’re on our way to New Mexico,” Maloney said. “We’ve been playing the circuit all summer, and the kids set a goal to get to the (AABC World Series). I’m super pleased to have achieved that goal. This was their dream.”
Gonzalez and Roskelly both said it’s an honor to be a part of the tournament. Joey Rydzewski, a 2014 graduate of Warren De La Salle, said winning would provide him with one of the best experiences of his young life.
“Our kids are geeked up and ready to go,” Maloney said. “We’re ready. We don’t fear any team. They’re going down with the expectation to win. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we had a good showing.”
To follow the team and the tournament, check http://cmws.usapremiersports.com/bracket/.