Volume 74, Number 9 | June 30 - July 6, 2004

Sports


The Orioles, 2004 champs of the Greenwich Village Little League Juniors Division for players ages 13-14. Dominating the division, they lost only once.

The Big ‘O’ Machine: Orioles win Jr.’s flying away

By Gabriel M. Zucker

All Little Leaguers remember key playoff loaded strikeouts — nail-biters to the end. However, when Casey Simons ran forward to catch the final pop-up in the Greenwich Village Little League Juniors Division championship on Sun., June 20, and went on to share the joy of being number one with his teammates, the situation was slightly different. The first-place Orioles had won the crown with seven runs of insurance under their belt.

Yes it’s true that anything can happen in Little League, but this was the year of the obvious. But that isn’t to say there was a lack of excitement out on the diamond in the championship weekend. It all started right off the bat, (too) early on Saturday morning, with a minor upset. With all due respect to the Red Sox, a betting person may have put his money on the opposing Giants.

But Ethan Metelenis pitched a strong complete game for the Sox, leading them to victory. John Sidoti was also solid on the hill for the Giants at the start, and the contest remained tight until the Sox broke it open in the fifth.

When all was said and done, the Sox had racked up 12, paced by Alex Vidal’s four runs and Reid Daniels’ five RBI. Two later runs by the Giants didn’t matter, and the final score came to 12-6.

Following this surprise win, the Cardinals greeted the Brewers with another surprise that sent a lament down the latter’s bench: the return of pitching ace Sam Weiser. Weiser, who had been out for most of the season with an injury, returned at just the right moment and pitched a gem — a complete, 4-run, 7-strikeout, 5-hit game. His defense backed him up superbly in addition, making just one error in all six innings. Batting around in two separate innings during the game, nearly everybody on the Redbirds got on base at least once, resulting in an 8-4 victory.

So the Cards went on to face the Cubs in the semifinals, and the first game of a long Sunday in Central Park was quite a seesaw thriller. Just like the day before, the Cardinals grabbed two early runs — on three walks and a single by Craig Scardapane. However, a smattering of errors and walks, and a rope single by Chris Spillane put the Cubs up by one. In the second, the Cardinals pushed ahead, plating two, but line-drive singles by Tyler Scrima, Spillane and Matt Ryan restored a one-run Cub lead. More hard-hitting action in the third brought the game to a 7-7 tie. Finally, in the fourth, the Cards appeared to put it away against hurler Shmuel Mincer. Singles by Weiser, Daniel Nachsin and Vincent Santvoord, plus a supersonic lined double by Anthony Miller left the Cubs down by six.

Improbably, the Cubs began a dramatic comeback. Spillane shot his third single of the game up the middle, Ryan punched his second and Harlan Green-Taub rifled a double. With the tying run at the plate, pitcher Scardapane bore down and stranded two runners in scoring position. After two last-inning insurance runs brought the gap to five, the Bears scrambled to get even. As before, they brought the tying run to the plate, but their last chance died in a pop-up, and, with a 15-13 score, the Cardinals were on their way to the championship.

While the winners had a party behind the backstop, the Orioles came to face the Sox, bringing some interesting news: Ace Craig Thompson, with a sore elbow, would be unable to pitch. This appeared to be a huge break for the Sox, especially when Scott Ritter took the mound and surrendered three first-inning runs on walks and on singles by Reid Daniels and Ben Aizer. Then Ritter struck out the side and went on to allow only two more runs in the entire game.

Meanwhile, the Orioles sparked a rally that looked like trouble for the Red Sox in the first. However, with two outs and the bases loaded, the Sox pulled off a spectacular pickoff to snuff out the threat. Instead, the murderous attack came in the third. Pitcher Zev Fima walked five and gave up singles to Ritter, Thompson and Taylor Scholz. A pitching change didn’t help matters any, as the Sox’s second pitcher lasted eight balls. Finally, Daniels came in, and after another costly walk, put his team out of their misery. However, the score was already 11-4. A few more innings, and the Birds had won a date in the championship with a score of 15-5.

So the stage was set; the first-place Orioles versus the third-place Cardinals. The Cards — much as the Sox had done — jumped out with a big rally in the first. Singles by Gabriel Zucker, Scardapane, Miller and Noelle Rodriguez off pitcher Simons scored four. The O’s came back with two in their half, but didn’t unleash their deadly rally until the second. After three walks along with singles by Simons and Aaron Greenwald, starter Zucker was removed in favor of Jeffrey Adler, who got two quick outs. But then Daniel Giansante doubled, and a few more hits plated a few extra runs bringing the score to 9-4.

The heart of the Cards’ order continued to slam the ball, hoping for a comeback. Santvoord hit one of the world’s longest blasts for a triple, Miller slammed his second double of the day and Scardapane scored twice — but all of this couldn’t match the O’s output. A run machine, the Orioles scored six more through the game with key singles by Greenwald, Ritter, Barall, Simons and Daniel Stephens, plus a double by Scholz. Finally, in a quintessential Oriole victory, they claimed the championship with a walloping 14-7.

And so the story ends.


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