Last updated: February 16. 2013 4:34PM - 295 Views

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This is a game where everybody wins.


How could they not, with so much spirit swirling around the field in the Victory Sports Baseball League?


That's where players with mental and physical disabilities from the Wyoming Valley have been going for the past year, now that they're too old to play in the Challenger Division of Little League Baseball.


"For 21 years, kids have graduated from Challenger and had no place to play," said Dan Berry from Pringle.


They do now.


Thanks to people like Berry – a parent of two players and the steady pitcher in the Victory Sports League – and league president Fred DeSanto, handicapped men and women in this area don't have to stop playing competitive baseball when turn 22.


That's the cutoff age for Little League's Challenger Division.


But those players are getting the chance for a new challenge on the baseball field well into adulthood.


The Victory Sports League was started last August, and currently has about 45 active players ranging in age from 15 to 40 who participate. They play most of their games on Wednesday nights at the Pittston Township Little League field, but have also used Little League fields in Kingston and Forty Fort.


The games are always between two teams, the Phillies and the Yankees. They usually last two or three innings – depending on when darkness sets in or the pizza arrives, whichever comes first. And players use rubberized baseballs and bats ranging from hard wood to those plastic oversized models used in Wiffleball games.


Everybody bats in each half-inning and nobody gets out, despite some dynamite defensive plays that look like they belong on the highlights of SportsCenter.


Even foul balls are fair, because there are no boundaries, and nothing stops every player from scoring in every inning.


"It's a great deal of fun," Berry said.


Joining the hit parade

It became obvious from the first batter of Wednesday night's game, when Andrea Yaglowski led off for the Yankees by rolling her wheel chair down the line to beat out a slow grounder.


That was just the beginning of the big hits for the Yankees.


Big Geno Grataldo, the league leader in home runs, smashed a wicked single to score two runs. Brandon Harvey, the Babe Ruth of the team, turned his cap backwards and pointed to the outfield to call his shot before powdering a big hit to left field.


Joey Bubblo used a tomahawk chop of a swing to bring in a run, and didn't stop talking about it, or much or anything else.


The Phillies had a few things to talk about, too.


Their leadoff man A.J. Warakomski not only rocketed a double in the bottom of the first, he blasted a ball that landed just in front of the center field wall the next time up.


"This close to a home run," chortled a delighted Warakomski, holding his fingers just centimeters apart.


It sounded like his teammate Eric Davis wanted to part ways with the Phillies when he revealed he wanted to be like New York Yankee Derek Jeter.


Mainly, everyone just wanted to have a blast. And they did when Chris Berry (the pitcher's son) raced around the bases to tie the game by scoring the final run.


"To the players, I think this is a big part of their lives," Dan Berry said. "They take this very seriously. They have a great deal of fun."


How could they not in a Victory League where there's no such thing as the feeling defeat?


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