Cardinals go with small ball and get the best of Red Sox
By Gabriel M. Zucker
Little League baseball is quite often characterized by the performances of several stars. The heart of the order smashes doubles and triples, while following innings may be less eventful. But last Saturday the rebellious Greenwich Village Little League Juniors Cardinals defied the stereotype, as all nine players in attendance chipped in, with a hit, run, RBI or all of the above, to top the Red Sox.
Indeed, the Cards played small ball, manufacturing runs with speedy running and advancing on grounders, waiting for their pitches and slapping singles; they continued to score without the virtue of an extra-base hit at least once per inning. True to form, they hit the ground running in the first. Despite two quick outs by Red Sox pitcher Ethan Metelenis, the heart of the order came through with a walk, and singles by Vincent Santvoord and Jacob Lefkowitz. The squad tacked on a fourth run in the following inning, when Jesse Towsen singled and came around on two key groundouts. The Cardinals threatened to break the game open when they loaded the bases with two outs, but centerfielder Ethan Zien rifled a hard-hit ball to third to get an inning-ending force-out.
Meanwhile, Lefkowitz was mowing through the Sox order from the hill, retiring the first five batters he faced. He made an outstanding play against power hitter Metelenis in the midst of his perfect stretch, just barely getting his glove down to snag a supersonic liner that might have otherwise made him the third player on the Cards DL. However, with two outs in the second, the Sox began to get to him. A bloop single by Ben Aizer, two walks and a single by Armani Clare brought in one run, and two straight walks to start the third signaled the end of Lefkowitzs outing. Gabriel Zucker was brought on to snuff out the rally but did quite the opposite as Metelenis hit a shot even harder than the one before. By the time it was done carrying over the outfielders heads, Metelenis was standing on third, and, one groundout later, the game was tied 4-4.
But the Cardinals, never fazed, came back with their own rally. Working the pitcher and running like a track team, they batted around, walked five times and swiped a whopping 11 bases en route to a five-run lead. Noelle Rodriguez, Towsen, Zucker, Jeffrey Adler and Anthony Miller all scored, while Daniel Nachsin and Santvoord picked up RBI.
The Sox scored twice in the fourth on huge doubles by Alex Vidal and Metelenis plus a sharp single by Daniel Krantz, but the Cards picked up another run as well, bringing the score to 10-6. Zucker pitched himself into a mini-nightmare in the fifth and final inning as the frantic Sox sought to tie it up. But he saved himself, stranding the tying run in the on-deck circle and sealing the victory for the Cardinals.
In other action the Giants eked out a 5-4 victory against the Brewers, riding a strong complete game from pitcher Harry Bartle and a homer by Adrian Ferrar. The Giants went on to face the first-place Orioles and their ace, Craig Thompson. The Giants mounted a rally in the last inning, but fell short, ending up with a flip-flop of their previous games score. The Orioles also won their other game, walloping the Brewers 19-6 with Casey Simons and Scott Ritter pitching.
The Cubs and the Blue Jays squared off for a doubleheader on Sunday with the Cubs getting the higher end of the bargain. They won the first game 12-6 on a strong performance by pitcher Shmuel Mincer, and emerged victorious as well in the second as Jimmy Kowalskis homer and David Gabellas pitching led them to a 14-5 win.