The champion White Sox team after their win.
White Sox hold off surging A’s to win championship
By Roger Ehrenberg
Last weekend, the Greenwich Village Little League Majors American White Sox won the league championship over the defending champion A’s in extra innings, 6-5.
The victory was the culmination of a brutal stretch of four games in four days for the White Sox, necessitated by their first-round, 3-2, extra-innings loss to the A’s. Given the strict rules concerning pitch counts and days of rest to protect young pitchers, winning four games in a row meant that the White Sox needed to pitch almost every player on their team to have a chance to win. And that’s exactly what they did. It marked a true team victory for the players, one in which each and every player made a major contribution to the team’s victory.
Starting last Thursday, the White Sox needed to win four games in a row. In Thursday’s game versus the Twins, the White Sox used five different pitchers in a sharp 9-3 victory. Andrew Ehrenberg hit a solo home run to tie the game at 3-3, after which the White Sox bats heated up while the depths of the pitching order held the big bats of the Twins in check.
Friday’s contest against the tough Orioles was a rematch of last year’s semifinals, where the White Sox won, 3-2. This year’s contest was almost a mirror image of last year’s, also ending in a gut-wrenching 3-2 victory for the White Sox. Andrew Ehrenberg hit his second home run in as many days, this one being the winning run in the hotly contested game. This was the victory that put the White Sox into the championship series against the defending-champion A’s.
The A’s had a remarkable stretch in the playoffs after an unusually challenging regular season, where they finished as the fourth seed. They won their first three playoff games, automatically propelling them into the championship series. Manager Carlo Saldana and head coach Dan Miller had been in this situation many times before, and went from being long shots to favorites by winning early and having their top pitchers available for the championship weekend.
The White Sox, regular-season champions with a 9-5 record, were suddenly forced to reach deep into their lineup, owing to their one loss in the first round. Manager Roger Ehrenberg and head coach Steve White relied on an array of seldom-used pitchers in the first two playoff games, saving the team’s regular-season starters for the championship series. As a result, the White Sox came into their match-up with A’s hardened, sharp and with more pitching firepower than anyone could have imagined. The A’s, while having all of their pitchers fresh and available, hadn’t played for a week and were facing a red-hot and hungry White Sox team.
Saturday’s championship game was a must-win for the Sox, owing to the double-elimination format. The A’s hadn’t lost while the White Sox already had sustained a loss. The White Sox started regular second baseman Adam Verges on the mound, and he pitched 2 1/3 innings of strong baseball, setting the table for regular starting pitcher Harry Swanson to take over and finish the game.
Offensively, the Sox bats were hot, and pushed the team to a 9-5 victory. The White Sox’s Nick White hit a three-run homer to left, helping fuel the inning that put the game out of reach. This win effectively made the season come down to a one-game, winner-take-all contest to decide the championship series.
The White Sox started third baseman and outfielder Isaac Thorman on the hill, while the A’s went with one of their regular starters, Jack Miller. At the end of two innings, the White Sox trailed, 5-1. But they didn’t panic. Andrew Ehrenberg, the team’s top pitcher, came in and shut down the A’s bats while his team’s started to get going.
As the innings wore on, it was soon 5-2, then 5-4. Then in the top of the sixth, the Sox tied the game, 5-5, with the tenth batter in the order, Matthew Boddewyn, getting the game-tying hit on a single to right. Ehrenberg pitched the bottom of the sixth, and while an A’s runner got to third base, he was left stranded there, forcing extra innings.
The White Sox played fundamental baseball in the top of the seventh, with leadoff hitter Isaac Davison hitting a single, moving to second on a passed ball, getting sacrificed to third, and scoring on a ground ball to the right side. White Sox, 6-5. Ehrenberg pitched a dominant bottom of the seventh, striking out the final batter and ending up with 12 strikeouts and no walks in five innings of scoreless relief.
The G.V.L.L. Majors American season was characterized by unusual parity and close games, with many, if not most, games decided by two runs or less. The championship series was no different. This season brought us a new league champion, the White Sox. They ended their season as they began it with the chant, “Team Baseball. Respect the Game. Three’s up — White Sox! White Sox! White Sox.”