Volume 18 • Issue 4 | JUNE 17-23, 20

Sports

Downtown Express photos by Elisabeth Robert

The Braves’ Robbie Martino scores a run as pitcher Yanai Feldman covers.

Blue Jays take the season title

The Downtown Little League’s Blue Jays won the Junior League season title Saturday with an 8-3 win over the Peter Stuyvesant Little League Indians.

The victory was the team’s seventh win in a row and, after a forfeit from the Greenwich Village Little League Athletics, the Jays 8-4 record was strong enough to be named the season champions.

This is the first time in over three years that a D.L.L. team in this division has had a winning record. While Blue Jays’ manager, Michael Greenblatt, said that luck fell their way at times, their strategy was to stay focused on the basics. They did not even have a typical team cheer to psyche themselves up at the start of a game because the kids already had the desire to do well.

“At the last game I asked why we didn’t do that,” said Greenblatt of the cheers. “And the kids said they didn’t have to.”

Instead, the coaches tried to keep the 13 and 14 year olds focused and motivated. The team was young, with most of their players just moving up from the Majors, so getting used to a larger field was a challenge in the beginning of the season. The 90-foot base paths and pitcher’s mound at 60 feet changes the pitching and gives outfielders more space to cover, said Matt Clark of the Junior League Division. Most of the kids had played on all-star teams in the Majors, so there was already talent present, the Blue Jays just had to learn to work as a team. Despite the team’s potential, they were still surprised at their regular season record, which was 8-4.

“We were all surprised to run off as many wins in a row as we did,” Greenblatt said. “They should be proud and happy with what they did, its fun to say you’re number one at something.”

The playoffs will take place this weekend, Sat., June 18 and Sun., June 19. Teams from D.L.L, G.V.L.L and P.S.L.L. will compete against each other at Pier 40.

In the Indians game, the Jays’ starting pitcher, Sam Gilberg, pitched an excellent game, giving up only three runs and one earned run over five innings. He struck out four and only walked two batters. Mixing in an occasional fastball with an excellent change up, he kept the Indian hitters off balance all game. He was backed up with some sparkling defense by Dylan Estrada in leftfield, Victor Smith in rightfield and Peter Barbieri at shortstop. Peter rebounded from an error the inning before to stop a potential big inning by gunning down a runner at third who was trying to go from first to third on a ground single to the outfield. Luke Steven-Smith and Corey Greenblatt combined on a 3-2 double play when Corey tagged out a runner at home in a bases loaded situation. The offense was led by Victor Smith, who got his second hit of the season to drive in an important run. Sam Gilberg, who helped his own cause by singling up the middle twice and getting two key R.B.I., and Luke Stevens-Smith, who got a key two-out single to score the eventual winning run, making the final score 8-3.

Sportsmanship, Marlin and Brave style.

Brewers vs. Red Sox
The Downtown Little League Brewers managed a 5-5 tie against the Greenwich Village Red Sox in the teams’ final regular season game, which was highlighted by several defensive plays.  In the top of the sixth inning, with the go-ahead run on second and two out, Brewer centerfielder Lucas Frajndlich made a shoe-string catch on the run of a line drive in the gap to end the inning.  Earlier in the fifth inning, the team got stellar plays by their middle infielders as second baseman Nestor Ouranitsas, fielded the ball behind second base, spun and threw the runner out at first.  One play earlier, shortstop Zack Karson made a bare-handed scoop of a slow roller to throw out a runner.  Pitcher Erik Coler, threw six innings while holding the second place team to five runs on four hits.   He also struck out seven and walked just one. 

Offensively, Karson led the team with a hit and two runs, while Ryan Rackover contributed a single as did David Palgon.


GIRLS SOFTBALL

BATTERIES VS. POWEDER KEGS
The Powder Kegs’ Madeleine Steinberg, Sarah Weldon, Willa Nathan, and Sarah McGowan all singled to open up the third and final game of the season with the Batteries. But fine defensive field work by the Batteries’ Bridget Doherty, Caroline Rauffenbart, and Jessica Consalvo, along with a double play by Jaclyn Livoti, ended the rally without a run scoring. Two Battery pop flies to shortstop McGowan and a grounder to pitcher Steinberg ended the scoreless first.

The Kegs’ Greta Jenkins led off a two-run second with a two-bagger to be followed by a single by Miranda Strand and two R.B.I. singles from Greta’s sister, Sophia Jenkins, and Madeleine Steinberg. Steinberg’s pitching held strong in the bottom of the inning only giving up one walk to Ellen Mullan-Jayes and a single to Macie Rosenthal.

The Batteries’ pitcher, Caroline Rauffenbart, and the team’s fielding shut down the Kegs bats in the third and fourth, limiting them to one hit by Aimee Chico. The Batteries’ wood came alive in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game with five hits by Bridget Doherty, Macie Rosenthal, Sarah Fadel, Marguerite Hollander, and Elena Stoeri-DiArrigo and a walk to Ellen Mullan-Jayes.

The Kegs responded with two runs of their own when Sarah McGowan drove Steinberg and Weldon in with a two-base shot to the outfield. Not to be left out, the Batteries came right back to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth with two runs on four hits by Jessica Consalvo, Jackie Benfield, Emma Huibregtse and Ellen Mullan-Jayes, and solid running, beating out close plays including a diving tag attempt by Kegs’ pitcher McGowan at the plate.

The game went into extra innings when in the sixth, a hit from the Kegs’ Katerina Michaels, a sacrifice hit from Willa Rubin and a walk from Marina Ouranitsas came up short in the top of the inning and McGowan struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to end the inning.

In the seventh inning, this epic pitching duel came to and end when Batteries’ slugger Caroline Rauffenbart hit the first pitch for a triple and was driven in with a single by Emma Huigbreste, giving the Batteries a 5-4 victory.


MAJORS

ASTROS VS. BLUE JAYS
The Astros continued their winning ways Friday defeating the Blue Jays by a score of 13-1. Cal Cook kept the hard-hitting Blue Jays at bay with another strong pitching performance. Cook started and got the win while Owen Kimmel came in the last inning to get the save. The two pitchers combined to yield no earned runs during the game. The Astros’ defense helped maintain the lead. Jake Shapiro gave a fielding clinic at second base with two amazing grabs. Jack Scordato and Travis Brandon contributed with some excellent catches in the outfield. The entire Astro team contributed at the plate with timely hits and excellent base running. Offensive kudos goes to Astro catcher Max Bowens who went three for three with a booming triple and Shapiro who went two for two. Rahul Khanna had a ringing double and Liam Gallagher went one for one for the Blue Jays.

ASTROS VS. CUBS
The Astros won their seventh game in a row against an excellent Cubs ball club Sunday. In a well-played game amidst a steamy day in Battery Park City, the Astros prevailed by a score of 8-4. The Astros struck early, scoring five runs in the first inning. Some nifty defense by Astros shortstop Owen Kimmel, who initiated a great double play to first baseman Sam Fishman, combined with excellent pitching from Astros starter Cal Cook kept the Cubs on hold during the first three innings. The Astros led 8-1 after three innings of play. On offense for the Astros it was Jake Shapiro who stroked the ball beautifully and went three for four, including a rocket down the leftfield line for a double. Astro catcher Max Bowens also contributed to the offense with a smashing hit to center and went one for two on the day. Shapiro came in to relieve Cook in the fourth inning and pitched well as the middleman.

In the fifth inning however, the Cubs’ bats broke out and came alive. Mark LaGreca and Michael Indelicato had the big bats for the Cubs and helped fuel a three-run inning. Astro catcher Bowens made an amazing big league grab of a foul ball. The usual stingy Astros defense faltered a little but Shapiro kept his cool and stranded three Cubs to end the inning. LaGreca went the complete game for the Cubs with an excellent performance. Kimmel, the Astro’s stopper, came in the last inning and shut down the Cubs to preserve the win.

BLUE JAYS VS. CARDINALS
The Blue Jays and Cardinals game was complete with timely hitting, great fielding and power pitching. The Blue Jays scored first with four runs in the first inning, but were denied further scoring due to a great play by centerfielder Zane Holmes throwing a strike to the plate to nail a runner trying to score. Not to be outdone, Blue Jay right fielder Curtis Seeman threw an equally perfect strike to the plate to end a Cardinal rally in the first. Alex Wainger continued the Cardinals excellent fielding with an unassisted double play at first. For the Blue Jays, Jess Coleman and Seeman reached base all three times and Kyle Maer had a key two R.B.I. double.

Sean Wils, the pitcher for the Cardinals, settled down after the first inning and pitched four scoreless innings, allowing only two runs in the fifth and striking out nine while pitching a complete game. He also contributed at bat with the Cardinals’ first run with a booming triple. Charles Porcaro, of the Blue Jays, was not to be outdone, giving up three runs in five innings while striking out 11.

Elias Sosa was on base all four times for the Cardinals with three singles and a walk.

Roy Vlcek, who had to sit out part of the game due to an injury, was key to two rallies, getting two base hits, scoring twice and contributing one R.B.I.

With the Blue Jays up by a 6-3 score in the bottom of the sixth, the Cardinals staged a three-run comeback, highlighted by Anthony Vitali’s two run double and Zane Holmes’ tying R.B.I., with the final score of 6-6.


ROCKIES VS. DEVIL RAYS
A lack of players caused the Rockies-Devil Rays game to be declared a forfeit, but in the true spirit of Little League, some players from the Blue Jays and Cubs helped to round out the Devil Rays roster and play an exciting game anyway. The Rockies controlled the game in the first two innings on strong pitching from Sam Daniels and a pair of R.B.I. doubles from Brandon Diaz. The D-Rays kept it close with a homerun from Felix Chmiel and an R.B.I. double from Justin Valenzuela, but R.B.I. singles from Christian Cardonna and Dexter Zimet pushed the lead for the Rockies. The Rays battled back again with back-to-back-to-back singles and an R.B.I. double by Eric Chang. In the sixth inning, with the Rays threatening, two outstanding “Sports Center”-worthy defensive plays by Ridley Younge sealed the save for relief pitcher Tommy Nellen and the Rockies by the score of 10- 9.


CUBS VS. DEVIL RAYS
A well played game by both teams ended in a Cubs victory of 8-5. Mark LaGreca had another strong game on the mound for the Cubs. He won his third game this year. He pitched five innings letting up one run, walking three and striking out 13 batters. The Cubs had nine hits and were led by the bats of Nick Morton’s three hits and two R.B.I. and Michael Indelicato with two hits and three R.B.I. while scoring two runs. The Devil Rays made it close in the bottom of the sixth with a grand slam by Eric Chang, but Devin Kolb came on to shut the door and close out the game for his third save this year.


JUNIOR MINORS

DODGERS VS. GIANTS
The “Big Blue Dodger Machine” continued to roll on this weekend when they took on their historical cross-town rivals, the Giants. The Dodgers played flawless defense for the first four innings and didn’t allow a single baserunner. In the fifth, the young Giants did load the bases and continued their solid hitting and fielding until the end of the game. The Dodger’s Xavier “X-Man” Russo was two for three and drove in six runs, Alex Sheman was three for three, including an inside the park homerun. Strong defense came from Nico Santore, Ryan Portoco and Chris Bauman.


PHILLIES VS. CUBS
The Phillies won 15-11 over the Cubs. Anthony Randazzo hit a two-run home run and made a fine catch to end the game. Rachel Licata, Max Sperling and Gabrielle Ponce each had three hits for the Phillies. The Phillies played excellent defense on the infield, led by John Barbieri and Michael DiMaria.


ROCKIES VS. RED SOX
In an outstanding offensive and defensive display, the Rockies hard-hitting lineup continued to thunder as they combined for 28 hits and shut out the Red Sox. Rockie sluggers Jack Weil, Wyatt Gray, Conner Cimmino, Jack Anderson, and Balthazar Merrin all went four for four in this early morning game. The Red Sox showed tremendous heart in never giving up, and their formidable offense loaded the bases twice. Their gutsy infield played an outstanding game by recording a one-two-three fourth inning, with fantastic defensive put outs from Sebastian Conybeare, Laila Fadel and Carson Ferdinand.

MINORS

ORIOLES VS. A’S
The Orioles topped the A’s in a rain-shortened battle, 5-3, in the Minors Division. The Orioles were led by Darby Northington, who pitched three innings and allowed no earned runs, and Campbell Weaver, who tripled for the second consecutive game. Aiden Northington and Daniel Chin showed good hustle on the base paths. The A’s were led by the pitching of Lee Perry and Joe DeMarco and by several outstanding defensive plays, including a double play by Grant Glovin, Nico Michaels and Eddie Owens, and a great grab by third baseman Sasha Auerbach.


WHITE SOX VS. RANGERS
A short-staffed Ranger squad supplemented its roster with players from some of the division’s other teams and scrimmaged against the White Sox. Led by John Zito, who had three hits and two R.B.I., the White Sox defeated the modified Rangers lineup. Cale Donaldson also had a hit and an R.B.I., and Connor Weitz made his pitching debut for the White Sox. The Rangers displayed some good base running and made some nice plays in the field.


TIGERS VS. ANGELS
The Angels took an early lead against the Tigers and managed to maintain it through six innings of well-played and highly competitive baseball. Angel hurler Jack Hatton allowed only one run over the final three innings and twice retired the side in order. For the Tigers, Matt Tuzzino, matched Hatton’s effectiveness by also allowing only one run and pitching two innings of three-up, three-down baseball. Tiger catcher Jake Wegweiser assisted on three putouts and also hit a frozen rope double to left center. The Angels’ Friso made a fine catch in the outfield to end an inning and squelch a Tiger threat. Chris Riddick laid down a perfect bunt and beat out the throw for an infield single late in the game. Weston Priest put in four great innings behind the plate for the Angels, and added a hit to increase their early lead. Tiger centerfielder Danny Padulo caught a hard shot by Jason Gonzales to hold the Angel lead to two in the top of the sixth. However, Hatton’s strong arm came out firing in the bottom of the inning as he struck out two of the last three batters to end this nicely played game.


BRAVES VS. MARLINS
After a lot of schoolyard talk between these two hard hitting and slick fielding teams, the Braves and Marlins finally tangled on the ball field. After two innings, the Braves were ahead by a score of 10-6. The Marlins, however, fought back without mercy and earned recess bragging rights with a 13-11 victory. For the Marlins, Tyler Brandon pitched the final two frames and struck out all six batters he faced. Offensively, the Marlins banged out five base hits while Daniel Sexton and Gabe Smith singled for the Braves.


DEVIL RAYS VS. PADRES
Perhaps it was the hot humid air that somehow froze the Padres’ hot bats against the Devil Rays. The D-Rays were on their game from the get go. Aden Haddad “Hot Rod” Salah set the pace in the first with a monster leadoff homerun. Moses Rubin singled and was driven home by offensive star Randolph Higgins’ first of two triples to left on the day. Kate “the Great” Nathan singled Higgins home as the Rays put up three runs in the first.

The Padres got something going in the third inning as rookie sensation Will Pangburn kept his four-game hitting streak alive and Taylor “Road Warrior” White stretched his streak to five games turning an infield single into a double, but back-to-back strikeouts stranded them both in scoring position.

The rest of the inning belonged to the D-Rays as they posted another three runs paced by “Professor” Higgins’ second triple of the game. Kate “the Great” came up big again with her second R.B.I. of the game and came around to score on Noah Berrie’s triple. Clifford Benfield’s second hit of the game drove in Berrie making the score 6-0. The D-Rays threatened further damage, putting runners at the corners, but a nifty play by Padre shortstop Aidan Rogers stymied the rally.

The fourth inning was a defensive showcase for the D-Rays as Benfield robbed power-hitter Michael Shorris of an extra base hit by snagging a screaming liner to right, again stranding Owen “Little Dog” O’Keefe aboard with his second hit of the game.

Padres’ bats began to awaken in the fifth as Graham Nelson led-off with a sharp grounder up the middle, but D-Ray second baseman Ian Malcolm made the grab and fired a strike to Rubin at first to nip Nelson by a step. Undeterred Elaine “Rocket Girl” Farah drilled a double and “Joltin” James Demsak’s single moved her to third. The Padres finally got on the board as “Wild” Will Pangburn singled again to drive in the pair and the Padres seemed on the verge of a comeback, but a final strikeout sent them home with the Devil Rays winning 6-2.


T-BALL

DIAMONDBACKS & REDS
The Diamondbacks hit well with every player getting on base. Teddy Eustace, a star at the mound, and one of Diamondback power hitters, slugged one out to leftfield with a double. Luca Romeo covered first like a pro and also batted great. There was also excellent fielding and hitting by Liam O’Connor. All teammates showed great team spirit, cheering the other players on. The Reds made excellent fielding plays as well, particularly by pitchersKaya Scheman and Noah Skelskie.


Red Sox & Yankees
This notorious rivalry was far more subdued Saturday morning with the Battery Park teams simply working hard and having a good time. Red Sox pitcher James Carney did some fine fielding and was also very impressive at the plate. Other Red Sox players distinguishing themselves were Tyler Kraehling out in the field and Cameron Lamser who made a nice play at third to get the out. Athena Karavasilis also made an excellent throw to second.

As for the Yankees, up at bat, Dylan Paige, whacked the ball for a double and Gabriel Colon hit a homerun. Yankee Lorren Winder also displayed a strong throwing arm and talent in the field. All in all both teams did a good job, staying focused despite the unusually hot weather.

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