CONCOURSE — The Manhattan Tigers won the championship at Sunday's Vitilla tournament in The Bronx, besting the Vitillazo RD to walk away with first place in the experienced bracket for the challenging Dominican stickball game.
“It’s amazing man," Jeffery Puente, who played on the Tigers and won the Home Run Derby, said in a statement. "Last year, I came and lost in the finals, but this year we knew we weren’t going to let that happen again. We just worked hard, we had a good pitcher, and we did it.”
The tournament, hosted by Red Bull, took place at the Joseph Yancey Track and Field in Macombs Dam Park, right by Yankee Stadium, where 20 teams faced off against each other in experienced and amateur brackets.
The Tigers won the tournament's experienced bracket, while the TBW Dream Team took home first place for the amateurs over the Vitilla Bombers.
Vitilla is a form of street baseball popular in the Dominican Republic that is played with a bottle cap and a a broomstick.
It was started in the 1970s by players who could not afford real baseball equipment, and MLB stars like Robinson Cano and Jose Bautista grew up playing the game, according to Vitilla expert Adalberto Garcia, who helped organize Sunday's tournament.
The game is similar to baseball but has a few key differences, such as having two bases instead of four and not allowing walks.
The bottle cap's ability to curve and slide makes the game very challenging, and the best way to win is by ignoring the crowds, Garcia said.
“To hit the vitilla, you have to be very concentrated,” he said in a statement. “You need to block out the crowd and just focus on the pitcher and the vitilla. That’s the only way you have a chance.”