The New Milford Thunder has a strong resume as a talented group of young baseball players.

The local 12-year-olds added a huge achievement to their record last week by claiming the Cal Ripken state tournament title in competition at Ewald Park in Southbury.

Coach Paul Gesualdi's diamond crew clinched the championship Friday, July 12, with a convincing 10-0 win over neighboring Danbury.

The clutch pitching and hitting of Max Cotier proved a a key for the New Miford youths.

Max escaped a bases-loaded, none out jam and hit a two-run home run to help propel the Thunder.

The New Milford youths needed just four innings to close out Danbury and complete a dominant four-game tournament run.

"This group really works hard and has had so much success together," said coach Gesualdi.

"They were impressive not just tonight," he said, "but from beginning to end in this tournament. ... I couldn't be prouder."

New Milford wasted no time jumping out to a lead.

The Thunder did it with the long ball in the first inning. Cotier singled with two outs and scored on a home run by Kurtis Krizan.

Chris Gesualdi followed with a solo blast, and what had looked like a quick inning for Danbury was anything but.

"New Milford is a great team, and you have to be at the top of your game to beat them," said Danbury coach Jim Fahey. "They jumped on top of us early, and that made it tough."

Max Cotier added a two-run homer to left center with two outs in the second frame to extend New Milford's lead to 5-0.

"I went up there ready to hit, and was looking for a fastball," Max said. "I got one, and I put a good swing on it and hit it hard."

Danbury mounted a threat in the third, but Max Cotier relieved starting pitcher Kendall Green and emerged unscathed from the jam.

New Milford tacked on a run in the third to make it 6-0, and ended the game with four runs in the fourth for a 10-0 lead. Hunter Skelly ripped a single to left to drive in the final run and give the Thunder the state title.

Max Cotier struck out four of the six batters he faced and at the plate went 3-for-3 and scored three runs.

"Max is a special baseball player," Gesualdi said. "He just has that uncanny ability; he's an athlete."

New Milford opened the state tournament with a 10-0 victory over Salem/Bozrah, then outplayed Danbury, 7-1, and Newtown, 12-0, to advance to the title game.

The Thunder will host the Cal Ripken regional tournament starting Saturday, July 20.