Winning a Cal Ripken state baseball championship is a very special achievement for sure.

Successfully defending one's title, however, really sets a team apart from its peers.

That's exactly what the New Milford Thunder boys' baseball travel team did last week at Garick Farms Field in New Milford.

The New Milford Youth Baseball/Softball 10-year-old travel team swept through the competition undefeated while playing as host team at the multi-field Boardman Road complex.

New Milford defeated Danbury, 9-2, in last Saturday's clinching game.

"What another awesome day for New Milford baseball," said coach Paul Gesualdi. "For the last few years now we've been saying that New Milford baseball is becoming a force in the state... I think it's time to drop the becoming part."

"So far this summer we've had our 13s win another district title, our 15s and our 9s were district runnersup, and the 15s are hosting the state tournament," added the Thunder's bench boss. "Our 11s are in the state tournament and hosting the New England regionals, and here we are again heading to another regional tournament with a World Series trip as the carrot."

During a record-setting 2010 season, basically this same group of Thunder youths had won the district, state and regional titles.

Already this season, the New Milford youths have built an overall record of 20-4 on their way to becoming the first local team to win two state championships in a row.

The Thunder will play in the New England tournament in Winchester, Mass., beginning Saturday.

The winner of that event will advance to the Cal Ripken World Series in Winchester, Va., starting Aug. 6.

Contributing their diamond efforts to the Thunder's championship run are Jordan Beshore, Tyler Bowe, Tim Cianciolo, Max Cotier, Nick DiCandido, Chris Gesualdi, Kendall Greene, Zach Hook, Kurtis Krizan, Joey Shine, Hunter Skelly, Austin Swanson.

The youths are coached by Paul Gesualdi, Doug Skelly, Joe Shine and Dave Ciaciolo.

Norm Cummings