Forest City's varsity baseball team has been been mired in mediocrity for the better part of a decade now.
In just the past six years (and under the direction of three different skippers), the Foresters have managed just five wins against an eye-popping 77 losses in the Lackawanna League.
In fact, this once proud program went four straight years (2008-11) without a single regular season win.
This spring marked the first time in seven seasons that the Foresters escaped the basement, finishing up 2-10 in Division Four, one game ahead of Susquehanna (1-11).
That's the bad news.
Now for the good news!
Help appears finally to be on the way for Forest City diamond fans.
This past week, a talented group of young Foresters sealed the deal on a Cal Ripken tourney title.
Under the direction of veteran skipper Rich Paulin, Forest City's 12U squad ran wild at the District Five tournament in Honesdale.
The Foresters reeled off four straight victories and outscored their opposition by a margin of 43-8 en route to the title.
This marked the fourth consecutive year this group of players has captured the district crown and advanced to the state tournament.
Forest City now heads off to Wyalusing for the 2013 tourney, their fourth trip to states in as many years.
That event gets underway Friday, July 12.
The local lads began their historic run back in 2010 in 9U competition. The wound up second at the District Five event, earning a trip to Birdsboro.
Page 2 of 3 - In 2011, this same team earned runner-up status at the district level and advanced to the 10U state tourney at Douglassville.
Last summer, Forest City grabbed another silver medal in District Five, then moved on to the 11U event at Warrington.
On the Diamond
Forest City began its quest for that ever-elusive gold medal last Saturday afternoon with a rout of the tournament host.
The Foresters scored early and often en route to an 18-1 Mercy Rule rout of Honesdale. This impressive win pushed the #1 seed into the quarterfinals and an unforgettable game against scrappy Wyalusing.
Once again, Forest City sprinted out to a big early advantage with six quick runs. However, the Rams rallied to tie the game, thanks to a grand slam off the bat of Jake Doyle.
Forest City came up in the bottom of the sixth with the score knotted 6-6 and staged a rally that will be talked about around the proverbial campfire for many years to come.
Joe Callan worked a lead-off walk, but was was erased by a fielder's choice groundout off the bat of Lucas O'Neill.
Eric Paulin then reached base on an error, setting the stage for a fantastic finish.
Dakota Knehr-Cook strode to the dish and proceeded to foul off several nasty pitches before sending the crowd into a frenzy.
The talented young slugger ripped the last pitch he saw deep over the wall at Fred Reisch Memorial Field for a walk-off 3-run homer.
Knehr-Cook's big fly gave Forest City a 9-6 win and a berth in the semis.
Forest City's power surge carried right over into its next contest, a semifinal showdown with Valley View.
Page 3 of 3 - Knehr-Cook led the way once again, blasting a 2-run homer in the bottom of the first. The Foresters put it in cruise control from there and rolled to a 6-1 win.
The championship game proved to be a bit anti-climactic after these home run heroics. In fact, the Foresters were never even threatened in the title tilt on their way to a 10-0 Mercy Rule triumph.
Tyler Lesjack and Knehr-Cook handled the pitching duties, while Corey Daniels, Cody Tomlinson and Joe Callah delivered dazzling defensive gems.
With this win, Forest City closed out its championship run with a record of 4-0.