Volume 76, Number 4 | June 14 - 20 2006

Sports

Booming Dave Heffernan of the Orioles with manager Carlo Saldana

Mighty Boomer at the bat: There’s joy in Orioleville

BY JUDITH STILES AND WILLIAM SANTORE

When young Dave Heffernan’s booming voice called out the batting order, even the snoozing fans perked up and listened at the start of Sunday’s Greenwich Village Little League game in the Majors A Division. Heff seized everyone’s attention as his unstoppable enthusiasm charged the air with the cold hard fact that the winner of this Majors A game between his beloved Orioles and the Red Sox would advance toward the finals, and the loser would go home. This was not just another day in G.V.L.L. baseball.

Looking impressive on the mound and sporting a ponytail, Brandon Diaz pitched for the Orioles with Quinn Hood catching, as Diaz retired the side in order in the top of the first. Basil Lyons then took the mound for the Red Sox with Joey Gary catching. Hood swung at the first pitch and smacked one to centerfield for a single. Lyons struck out the next batter, as speedy Hood stole second. Next Diaz hit a grounder to Red Sox shortstop Christian Orellana, who tried to throw Hood out at third to no avail. At bat next was Quinn Sweeney, who got a single and sent Hood home for the first run. But Lyons came roaring back, striking out the next batter, and then a ground ball was hit to second base for the third out, leaving the score 1-0 in favor of the Orioles. The Orioles were chanting so loudly in their bullpen that the ump had to tell them to quiet down.

It looked like a pitchers’ duel from the beginning but it turned out to be more of which pitcher could get out of the tightest situations. In the bottom of the fifth inning, with the Sox ahead 2-1, “Booming Heff” Heffernan confidently stood at the plate eyeing every one of Lyons’s pitches. Lyons slotted two strikes, followed by a foul tip that dribbled down the first base line into foul territory. Many a player would have choked at this point, however Heff waited calmly like a mighty tree, and then surprised everyone as he walloped one down the first base line for a double. This was the turning point of the game as the Orioles rallied behind Heff, running the score up to 5-2 in their favor.

Lyons did not finish the inning because he reached his maximum pitch count, and Joe Pucci came in as the reliever. Although it looked like the Red Sox were doomed, Pucci got two strikeouts to end the inning. Next, the Sox came back hitting in the sixth. A big hit by Sam Williams drove in two runs. It looked like the Sox were on the comeback trail. But with the Sox down by 1, with the bases loaded and two outs, the O’s pitcher Ezra Cohen struck out the last batter to end the game with a score of 5-4, Orioles.

Orioles manager Carlo Saldana praised his team and tossed a game ball to pitcher Diaz to take home as a keepsake for his outstanding work. But the most important game ball went to Booming Heff for never wavering, always trying and turning the game around for his beloved team.

Everyone in the stands agreed it was an exciting game and that the boys played “real” baseball. The fans applauded the players for making that magical leap from the immature willy-nilly type of play in Majors B, to “real” baseball in Majors A. Tom Ellet, president of G.V.L.L., agreed that this transformation in the sophistication of play occurs around age 10 and is a delight to watch. To catch more of it, on Sat. June 17, fans can stroll down Hudson St. to J. J. Walker Park at the corner of Clarkson St. and linger with the dog-walkers to witness our city boys play a first-rate championship game.

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