Volume 20 Issue 7 | June 29 - July 5, 2007


Downtown Express photos by Elisabeth Robert

Jake Bader scores a go-ahead run for the Astros in the team’s championship win in the Downtown Little League Majors Division.

Down by 6, Astros rally for Downtown title

Downtown Little League’s major division just wrapped up its season with the Astros taking the 2007 Major League Championship title against the Blue Jays, 8-7 Saturday night in Battery Park City.

The much-awaited game pitted two top-seeded teams against each other, and began with Astros pitcher Jake Shapiro facing Blue Jays pitcher Lucas Ortega. The Blue Jays struck immediately with base hits by Campbell Weaver, Ortega, Kyle Maer and a triple by Leanne Elefterakis resulting in a 4-run inning.

The Astros got runners on base in the bottom half of the inning, including a nice hit by Matt Tuzzino, but Ortega kept them at bay, getting out of a jam and leaving the Astros with the bases loaded.

Shapiro kept his composure in the second inning and held the Jays scoreless in a quick half inning. Ortega countered and struck out the side and blanked the Astros again.

In the third inning, the Blue Jays got two more runs with Joseph Demarco and Ortega crossing the plate. In the bottom of the third, trailing 6-0, the Astros finally got it going. Hits by Jake Bader, Shapiro, Clay Walsh and Leighton Brillo-Sonino sparked a 3-run rally, but left three runners stranded as well.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Jays added another run to take a 7-3 lead. Weaver came in to relieve Ortega and, behind the excellent defensive plays of right fielder Noam Saul, held the Astros scoreless while stranding two runners.

Tuzzino relieved Shapiro and in the fifth inning and held the Jays scoreless, aided by the defense of right fielder Walsh, who snagged another hit by Elefterakis. The Astros never gave up hope, though, and in the bottom of the fifth, turned it on. Brillo-Sonino and Jeremy Karsons got on base with walks. Cale Donaldson tried to sneak in a bunt but Jays catcher Maer made a dive for the out. Tuzzino got on with a walk and then Shapiro drove in two runs with a hit to left field. Astros catcher Harris Uslander hit a monster shot to right center that scored Tuzzino, but it got caught in the fence and was ruled a ground rule double. The inning ended with the score tied 7-7.

In the sixth and final inning, Tuzzino prevailed with the help of right fielder Walsh, who threw a strike to Uslander to nail Dashiell Lieberman of the Jays at the plate. This held the Jays scoreless and set up a chance for the Astros to win.

The Astros wasted no time as Brillo-Sonino started the sixth with a hit to right center for a triple. Astros first baseman Nicky Bader was the hero with a walk-off hit to end the game and secure the championship for the Astros with an 8-7 victory.

Manager Jeff Shapiro was elated with his team’s come-from-behind win and never doubted their ability to do it. “They hung in there and never gave up,” said Shapiro.

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