Volume 20, Number 49 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | APRIL 19 - 26, 2008

Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert

Katerina Coggeshall, center, jumped and cheered during the Downtown Little League’s opening ceremonies Sunday.

Little Leaguers’ opening a hit – lots of ‘em

Rookies

Braves vs. Athletics
 With a heavy fog in the early morning air, parents and players emerged from the mist carrying baseball gloves or cups of coffee, taking the field for their very first game as Rookies in the Downtown Little League.

Managers and coaches joined their players on the lawn of Rockefeller Park for pre-game calisthenics and some sound advice: “Watch the ball; Hit the ball; Try hard to touch every base.” Parents took their positions as spectators and got their cameras ready for action. 

First at bat was Michael Barbieri, with the A’s, who fired a line drive just inches from the grasp of the opposing pitcher. The next A’s at bat were Michael Morin, August Biggio, Federico Cestero, Luke Sullivan, and Dylan Knox —all getting hits and coming directly home . . . after taking first base wide, skipping second and not even bothering with third. Jack Beaumont was missing from the lineup — it was later discovered that he wandered over to the Marlins team and hit two whoppers for them! 

The next at bats learned from the first group and, eventually, rounded the bases, with A’s Luca Vertucci and Nate Braus knocking two out into centerfield. James Purpora finished the A’s at bat with a popup that bounced off the head of Braves fielder Sean O’Toole, who miraculously caught it on the bounce and threw it to third.

Then out to the field went the A’s, as the Braves took their turn at bat. Braves #3 hit a bunt that made the entire A’s team run in from their field positions to land in a dog pile at the feet of the batter. The Brave batter then stepped over the pack and made it to third base before A’s fielder, Michael Morin, re-surfaced from the bottom of the pile with the ball. Finishing the Braves at bat was a grand slam home run by Jack Clothier.

When the game was over and scores were tallied, it was determined that both the A’s and the Braves had won. When the Braves’ Olivia O’Toole was asked what she thought of the game, she paused for a moment before responding, “Boy, those A’s were tough!”
 

Marlins vs. Dodgers 
After months of pent-up excitement and anticipation, both the Marlins and Dodgers took to the field this past Saturday for the first of many early morning Downtown Little League Rookie Ball games. Proud and misty-eyed parents with coffees in hand watched as the Marlins showcased a strong and eager lineup that boasted the formidable talents of Gabriel Baltierra, Luca Black, Lorenzo Frugiuele, Ellen Gaffney, Stan Gould, Eli Harrell, Dixon Katzenberg, Sophia Malik, Rubin Parker and Sovann Woodin. 

Not to be outdone, the Dodgers countered with an equally enthusiastic group of soon-to-be-pros that featured the potent team of Michael Cheeseman, Braden Donaoin, Dylan Hoffman, Jesse Ingerman, Viraj Kathuria, James Lawlor, Camryn Myers, Tasha Natrella, Nicky Pomerantz, Harris Rosenberg, Joshua Van Der Zwan and Rubin Parker. 

The game got underway quickly with both line-ups showcasing their offensive batting prowess and powerful base running skills.  With a dose of strategically unplanned defensive mayhem and a final score too confusing to recount, both teams celebrated what everyone in the standing-room-only crowd agreed was a game where everyone was a winner!

Astros vs. Angels
In the opening game of the season last Saturday, The Astros hosted the Angels at Rockefeller Park. The game lasted a full three innings and ended in a hard fought tie. The teams played extremely well with great hitting and fielding demonstrated by both sides. 

The visiting Angels began their season with a long rally in the top of the first, which was occasionally interrupted by the outfield play of Mateo Nickola and the infield glove work of Evan Chakrabarti. The Astros offensive season started with a bang when lead-off hitter Jon Anthony Jablonski hit the very first pitch the team faced. The inning was later kept alive when Jack Doyle beat a throw to second base with a perfect slide. 

In the top of the second, the Angels continued demonstrating their strong hitting abilities while the Astros defense attempted to slow them down with solid fielding by Milo Kern and a well executed throw to first base by Scarlett Baughman. 

The final inning slugfest was capped off by a line drive base hit into centerfield by the Astros Elijah Yong. The teams enjoyed post-game refreshments after both demonstrated their great sportsmanship by exchanging handshakes at home plate.
 

Yankees vs. Mets
The rain threatened the morning and we wondered who would come out for the first day. The teams set up the bases, did some stretching, jumping jacks and running. Then, it was time to “Play Ball.”

Any apprehension that these kids felt soon melted away like the fog that hung in the air. It was a great game. Every kid on the Yankees and Mets got a hit, ran the bases and walked away from that park as if they had just won the World Series. The smiles were evidence of their love for this game.

Junior Minors Lower

Pirates vs. Orioles
The Pirates and Orioles showed tremendous spirit on this Junior Minor Lower opening day game. Clearly energized by the procession of cheering parents and players, both teams took the field in what would end up being a hard fought, 7-6 victory by the Pirates.

The Pirates opened up a 7-1 lead early in the game, sparked by hitting of Ethan Berg, Jack Krupp and Charlie Pomerante. The Oriole players embodied the “Downtown spirit” and were ignited by the determination and hustle of Henry Bodwell and pulled within one run on the clutch hitting of Arjun Khorana, Freddy Purpora and the stellar Duke Tsapalas.

A late inning gem of a catch and throw by Lloyd Chinn secured the opening day win for the Pirates. Joshua Davis received the game’s “Ironman” award by staying in the game after a painful exchange behind the plate.

Everyone agreed that the parents and players alike were the winners today, as the sun shone brilliantly on the newly sodded grass fields, amidst the splendor of the Downtown skyline.

Junior Minors Upper

Cubs vs. Tigers

The Cubs hosted the Tigers for a well-played and exciting opening day game. For the Tigers, Duncan Stuard scored the first run of the season and later caught a fly ball on a dive for an out. Wesley Chong had a strong showing at first. Solid hitting by Devyn Zaminski and Arthur Perry got them around all four bases, forcing several runners home. Few could get past second with baseman Jasper Stoch guarding. Pitcher Zoe Morrison successfully fielded the ball to first base more than once. Melina Driscoll and Maria Scovel demonstrated good fielding skills.

The Cubs were led by the superb hitting of Aurora Grutman, Max Matsumoto and Lucy and Henry Freedman. Sage Ranaldo and Aurora Grutman combined for an outstanding defensive play in the 3rd inning. The trio of Max Kern, Sebastian Chin and Leo Jenkins displayed impressive skills and toughness behind the plate as catchers.
 

Athletics vs. Blue Jays

 At 10 a.m. Sat., April 12, the clouds above Baruch Baseball Fields graciously parted — allowing the sun to signal the start of the game between the Athletics and the home team Jays.  In a well-played game, marked by sharp fielding and timely hitting by both teams, the A’s outlasted the Jays 13-5.

On the A’s side, David Wong fielded a hard hit from the Jays to turn an unassisted double play in the third inning. Justen Lam had a busy fifth inning, skillfully fielding four solidly hit Jay balls. His teammate, Jonah Frere-Holmes, also contributed several sparkling fielding plays during the game as well as two hits.   

Matthew Gunther was stellar at the plate for the A’s with four hits including a sixth inning home run. Thomas Burns, David Lampietti, Justen Lam, and Hudson Kussie contributed three hits apiece for the A’s. 

Red Sox vs. Reds

The Red Sox and Reds played a very exiting game on Saturday morning to
open the season.  Julian Ferraro scored the winning run in the bottom of
the last inning as the Sox came from behind to prevail 13-12.  There were a number of great defensive plays on both sides as
Calliegh Carr and James Stanke for
the Reds and Jeremiah Wysoker and Jake
Katzenberg for the Sox showed some leather. Sophia Marino showed some timely hitting
for the Reds.

Minors

Dodgers vs. Cubs
The Baseball Gods finally awoke again last Saturday afternoon as Jack Baughman and Aram Flores’ Cubbies took it to the mat against Greg Pryor’s Dodgers. With two rookie hurlers on the mounds both managers were rolling the dice and walks were plentiful here in the season opener. However, the story of the game was not written by walks or errors, but by some fine fielding and sharp hitting on both sides as the game was still up for grabs until the final out.

The hometown Dodgers struck fast in the first inning as centerfielder Aidan Rogers tallied his first R.B.I. of the season beating out a sharp infield grounder to drive in leadoff man Blas Lee. The table was set for steady backstop Sam Lieberman’s double which scored second baseman Theo Levine and Rogers.

Despite finding themselves in an early hole, the Cubbies battled back to tie in the bottom of the first sparked by back to back towering doubles from heavy hitters Gabriel Quinones and Mateo Flores.

Where the first inning featured offense the second showcased some excellent early season defensive play from both sides. Cubs shortstop Elias Griffin and first baseman Simon Curtis-Ginsberg worked it well to blank the Dodgers. For the Dodgers a spot-on throw from catcher Lieberman to third baseman Will Sisson nipped the Cubs’ Jake Dickerson trying to steal third and pitcher Theo Levine handed the Cubs a goose egg with two strikeouts on the inning.

In the third both teams scored numerous runs as the walkathon was reprised, but some clutch plays by Tommy Bates and Dario Flores held the Dodgers below the limit as the Cubs nudged ahead 10-8.

Leftfielder Willy Pangburn’s mile high drive to left led off the fourth for the Dodgers as Sam Lieberman unloaded for his second and third R.B.I. Sisson’s following single was to be the difference maker sending second baseman Theo Levine scampering home to make it 13-10.

Last licks and the Cubs could smell blood as Levine visibly tired on the mound walking the bases full. With bases loaded and the winning run at the plate Pryor turned to closer and game M.V.P. Smokin’ Sam Lieberman to shut ‘em down on two strikeouts and a fine catch by shortstop Aidan Rogers to end the game 13 –12 for the Dodgers.

Reds vs. Marlins
The predicted heavy thunderstorms never came, but the grass was still wet at 3 p.m. at the newly-designed Battery Park ball fields on Saturday for the season opener. 

Families and fans shunned the new bleachers way across the fields and moved closer to the players. And the Reds and Marlins provided an exciting game for them to watch, starting with the fan favorite, Ryan Porcaro, on the mound for the Marlins. 

Porcaro delivered, striking out nine of the Reds’ players. Kai Glick was hit by a pitch, and managed to steal second before Tyler Rohan’s bomb up the first base line was snagged in mid-air by the Marlin’s Valentino Rosa to end the top of the first. Glick did well on the mound for the Reds, striking out four of the Marlins’ batters. Lead-off batter Porcaro’s grounder was neatly handled by the Reds’ Jacob Shwartz at second, who threw it to Kiehl at first base.  

Rosa was also hit by a pitch, and stole second.  He advanced to third when Gregory Elefterakis singled. Vahak Hovnanian walked, setting the table for Clyde Huibegreste, but he struck out with the bases loaded.  Jackson Kaufman’s grounder to the pitcher was thrown to Rohan at home, who touched the plate to end the scoreless inning.  Jonathan Parker led off for the Reds in the top of the second, succumbing to Porcaro’s command of the strike zone, as did Sal Derogatis. 

Oliver Mettle earned a base on balls and stole second, but was stranded on base when Shwartz fanned to end the inning. Henry Lilien started the inning for the Marlins with a walk and two stolen bases. Devan Minniham struck out, but Gregory Mack made it to second on a walk and stolen base as well.  Sam Marciano was credited with driving Lilien home with a bloop infield single.

When the team realized Mack was headed home, Glick whipped the ball to Rohan, who held onto the ball despite a collision with the incoming Mack. (The umpire stressed that players should slide on close plays, especially at home, and he’d consider it an out if they didn’t in the future.)  Porcaro ended the inning with a grounder to Kiehl at first.   

The Reds, behind 1-0 in the top of the third, were scoreless with two strikeouts. The Marlins answered with another run in the bottom of the inning.

The Reds earned their first run in the top of the fourth. Liam Barwick led off with a walk and stolen base, echoed by Kiehl. It seemed Porcaro was tiring, but then had two strikeouts to Will Best and Glick. After walking Rohan, however, and setting the table for Parker, the Marlins called on their bullpen and brought in Kaufman. 

Parker’s walk scored a run but Kaufman didn’t crumble, striking out Derogatis to end the inning. The Marlins added Cole Barker to their lineup in the fourth, who walked and stole a base, as did Branden Lam. Jarrod Dominguez’ grounder to first was neatly handled for the first out, but Barker crossed the plate to bring the score to 3-1. 

With a runner on third, Ben Beaumont stepped to the plate and made the best contact of the game. His soaring shot to rightfield was gloved by Derogatis, who threw quickly to the Reds’ third baseman to make the double play and end the inning. 

A light sun shower began and the Reds came to bat in the top of the sixth with rally caps and reassuring cheers from the crowd. Best was hit by a pitch and stole to third on Glick’s strikeout.  Rohan also went down looking, but Parker reached first by catcher interference. Derogatis came to the plate, still riding on the joy of snagging a pop fly, but with the pressure of two outs, man on first and third, and down by one run in the last inning. His infield fly was missed by the pitcher, and Best tried to even the score by heading for home. 

The Marlins were on top of it. Minniham’s bear hug impeded Best’s progress, and the Marlins catcher tagged him out to end the suspense. The final score was Marlins 3, Reds 2.

 






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