Colton Nighthawks will make their series debut

Jake Newby
Colton Nighthawks

The Colton Nighthawks out of Colton, Calif., will compete in the Connie Mack World Series for the first time in their rich history.

By winning USA Premier Baseball’s Firecracker Classic in early July and then cruising through the double-elimination Connie Mack National Regional in Arizona with a record of 9-1, the Nighthawks have put together a fine summer.

Eleven-time U.S. Amateur Baseball Federation Champions, they boast an impressive list of alumni, including current MLB players Freddie Freeman, Justin Turner and Ian Kennedy.

The Connie Mack World Series has eluded the Nighthawks until this year, though they’ve made it into Connie Mack qualifier tournaments on and off since 1994, placing second three times.

"I guess for us the fourth time was the charm," said Ruben Montano, who has coached the Nighthawks for 20 years.

Proficiency on the mound has helped the Nighthawks collect a record of 38-4.

"We got this far because of pitching," Montano said. "The key to this whole season was the pitching and the leadership of our center fielder Patrick Keller."

Before the start of the summer, the Nighthawks’ entire starting infield and two-thirds of its outfield from a year ago were snatched away by those players’ respective colleges, leaving the team with only six returning players. But one of those players, Keller, has helped the team reach new heights.

"It’s the old saying, as he goes, we go," Montano said of Keller. "He’s the one who gets the game-winning hits, and he actually threw a guy out at the plate to advance us. He’s just been the heart and soul of our team."

2016 Connie Mack World Series preview

A Closer Look

Coach: Ruben Montano 

Hometown: Colton, Calif 

Region: National 

Roster (number, name, position)

4 James Jordon, INF

6 Zach Grande, C/3B

11 Emanuelle Viramontes, INF/RHP 

13 Nick Estrella, INF/P

14 Spencer Packard, OF/1B/P

15 Matthew Dyer, C/3B

17 Patrick Keller, OF

25 Matt Zimprich, C/DH

26 Jonathan Longtin, OF/RHP

28 Blair Henley, RHP 

29 Connor Mang, INF/P

31 Bradley Glenn, LHP

32 Chris Moya, OF

35 Andrew Davis, RHP 

42 Robby Campillo, C/1B

54 David Barela, LHP

58 Jason Wallace, 1B

61 Tyler Hansen, LHP 

67 Chris Rocco, RHP 

68 Emilio Guggliemelli, LHP