From left, Orioles Kevin Chun, Jason Rojas and Quinn Sweeney
Pads top Os: Quinns n twins keep it interesting
By Judith Stiles
Sunday morning was not looking good for baseball with cold rain heralding the first day of May. A few baseball players had slogged through a soccer game the day before, competing on wet and spongy FieldTurf, but by Sunday, nobody was in the mood to endure more rain. Lucky for the Majors A teams, the Orioles and the Padres of Greenwich Village Little League, Sunday skies cleared, by late afternoon it became just that a day of sun, and the fans optimistically filled the stands, leaving their rain gear home.
Never-crack-a-smile Jason Rojas pitched for the Orioles with Brent Scardapane batting first in the order for the Padres. Scardapane hit a solid grounder to right field and held at first base until the next batter, Gabe Warshaw (sporting a Johnny Damon haircut), sent Speedy Scardapane home for the first run. With an unreadable poker face, pitcher Rojas looked over his shoulders a few times, went toward home plate to confer with catcher Quinn Sweeney, and then went back to the mound, keeping the fans guessing. Thanks to a pop fly caught by Orioles second baseman Henry Rice and flawless catching by Sweeney, the Padres were held to two runs before the side was retired.
In the bottom of the first, in a fluky baseball moment, a wild ball bounced off the concrete behind the umpire and ricocheted into the dugout, whacking Oriole Josh Sawyer on the hand. Sawyer crumpled in pain off the bench as his mouth shot open and a big wad of red gum dropped to his feet. He didnt scream, he didnt writhe in pain, but his mother in the stands bolted down to the dugout to check out the injury. A stoic Sawyer brushed it off and decided to stay in the game. Next, Quinn Hood of the Orioles hit not one, but two killer foul balls backwards and over the fence, hopefully not landing on the parked cars. He then faced an impossible pitch by Scardapane who struck him out. The inning ended with the Padres ahead 2-0.
Immediately following, Hood, now playing first base for the Orioles, caught a difficult fly ball for the first out. Then Orioles second baseman Kevin Chun stopped a hard bouncing grounder and made a perfect throw to Hood for the second out. That was the other Quinn, remarked Kassie OConnell, mother of Quinn Sweeney, the catcher. She added laughing, We never met a Quinn before and now after more than a decade of not knowing any other Quinns, there are two of them on the Orioles! Manager Carlos Saldana kept it simple by always shouting a last name tacked onto Quinn, but it was not so simple for Saldana when he realized that pitcher Jason Rojas had joined the team with his identical twin brother, Justin, which on a hot day could cause a batter to think he was hallucinating, with Jason at the mound and brother Justin in right field.
Next, Andrew Kaplan of the Padres hit a solid rope, unfortunately right into the glove of pitcher Rojas for the third out, causing several fans in the stands to lament, The batter got robbed!
Although at the end of the second inning the Padres were leading 3-0, the Orioles rallied in the third inning, bringing the game to a tie score of 3-3. But in the fourth inning, as often happens in Little League, the game got away from the Orioles, starting with Padres Mike Krieger, hanging off third base, eager to run home with no outs on the scoreboard. Next, Scardapane hit a grounder to centerfield and sent Krieger home, and that was the beginning of the end of the game as the score crept up to 13-3 in favor of the Padres. Orioles relief pitcher Sam Philbrick got out of the inning when a fly ball was caught by centerfielder Kameron Block for the third out.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Padres Matt Maitland took the mound and walked the first batter, Josh Sawyer, who was back in action. Then Steadyarm Maitland proceeded to strike out the next three Orioles batters for an amazing outing. With the score 13-3 at the end of the fourth, that gnarly mercy rule kicked in, in which the game must end early because of a league rule that declares game over when there is a 10-run lead as soon as the inning has been completed.
Several players from both sides hung around after the game to simply toss the ball around for a little more fun and to postpone the agony of Sunday night homework. Players from both sides were relieved that Sawyers hand was not broken, especially his mom, Mara Sawyer, who philosophically remarked, Hey, if there is any kid who is going to get hit by a ball, its him. . .because hes the kind of kid who will bounce back every time. Bounce back he did, staying long after the game to prolong the baseball fun, and rumor has it, he was seen happily playing ball until the sun went down, because of course he didnt have any homework.