Jacob Morrell of Ararat reaches out to make contact during a July 22 12U New England regional tournament game against West Hartford at Memorial Field in Berwick. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

TOPSHAM — After cruising through the state and New England regional tournaments with just one loss between the two tournaments, the 12U Cal Ripken All-Stars of Ararat have a tall task in front of them when they travel to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida next week for the 12U Cal Ripken Major60 World Series.

Along with Ararat, there are 14 other teams that travel from across the country to take part in the week-long tournament that takes place from August 7-15. Seven different regions will be represented; Midwest Plains, New England, Ohio Valley, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest, Southeast, and Southwest. Palm Beach Gardens will send two teams since it is hosting the tournament.

North Valley, North Dakota will be representing the Midwest Plains, while Ararat and Noble will be representing New England. Two teams from Kentuck will represent the Ohio Valley; Green County and Owensboro. Kennewick, Washington will represent the Pacific Northwest while two California squads will be representing the Pacific Southwest in Hanford and Los Altos. The Southeast representatives consist of West Palm Beach, Florida, and Rockville, Virginia, with Magnolia, Arkansas taking part out of the Southwest.

Bunker Hill, Indiana, and Casselton, North Dakota will also be playing in the tournament by receiving special invites after winning its regional championships in 2019 as 10-year-olds, according to Jordan. This is a normal occurrence, and with no tournament in 2020, they are invited in 2021.

Ararat head coach Jon Hiltz says his team knows what it’s up against, and is looking forward to the challenge.

“I think that they (the players) are a bit anxious,” Hiltz said. “We know that we’re going to see some good teams down there. It will be good to see where we fit into that.”

Despite the anxiousness, Hiltz says his team is focused on what they can control.

“Our focus is to do what we do best and play some good baseball,” he said. “We aren’t trying to worry about who else is down there with us.”

When the tournament gets underway on Saturday, the 15 teams are split into three groups of five. Ararat was put into the “National” bracket, alongside Casselton, Green County, Magnolia, and Palm Beach Gardens National, one of the host teams.

Each team will play each team in their pool once to determine seedings for the next round. The top nine seeds will move on to the championship bracket, with seeds 10-15 being placed in the “Iron Man” bracket.

Danny Millson of Ararat takes a swing in the batting cage during practice Monday in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

The No. 8 and No. 9 seeds face off in a play-in game, with the winner earning a game with the No.1 seed. In the “Iron Man” bracket, the No. 10 and No. 11 seeds have byes while 12-15 face off to determine who moves on to the next round.

Both brackets are separate, with the World Series champion coming out of the Championship bracket. Both brackets are single elimination.

“We’re used to the win-or-go-home type of game,” said Hiltz. “There’s definitely some pressure, but we’ve had time to refresh ourselves.”

Because “a handful” of teams pulled out of the World Series for one reason or another, New England regional commissioner Barry Jordan made a call to national commissioner Robert Faherty to see if both the champion and runner-up from New England could go to the World Series.

“I gave Robert (Faherty) a call before the New England regional final and told him how excited I was to be guaranteed to be sending a team from Maine,” said Jordan on Tuesday. “He told me a team had backed up and offered up a spot to the runner-up.”

Jordan announced that Noble had received an invitation after the New England regional final was played, so he didn’t “spoil” the “championship intensity” that was on display.

“I was chomping at the bit but I knew I couldn’t ruin the game,” he said.

Noble was placed in the “Central” pool. Their competition consists of Bunker Hill, Las Altos, North Valley, and West Palm Beach. The “American” pool features Hanford, Kennewick, Owensboro, Rockville, and the other host, Palm Beach Gardens American.

Ararat and Noble can not play each other until either the championship or “Iron Man” brackets.

Will Davis of Ararat delivers a pitch during a July 22 12U New England regional tournament game against West Hartford at Memorial Field in Berwick. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

The tournament begins on Saturday. Ararat plays its first game at 12:30 p.m. against Palm Beach Gardens National. Sunday is an off day for Ararat before it plays three games in three days. The grueling schedule kicks off on Monday at noon against Green County, followed Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. vs. Magnolia. Ararat finishes pool play on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. against Casselton.

The next round begins on August 12. The championship is scheduled to take place on August 14 at 11 a.m.

“We’re ready to put our best foot forward,” Hiltz said. “We feel humbled by the support we have received over the past two weeks, hopefully we can make people proud.”

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