Volume 21, Number 10 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | July 18 - 24, 2008

Downtown Express photos by Robert Kreizel

Jack McGreevey, the Downtown Little League’s third baseman, takes the throw in a tournament game against Stuyvesant Saturday.

Downtown bounces back with a comeback win over Inwood

On a breezy summer Saturday, the Downtown Little League’s tournament team of 9- and 10-year-olds traveled to the Lower East Side.  Stuyvesant’s team had the home field advantage, cohesive coaching by Chris O’Connor and strong players.  Though Stuyvesant was a worthy opponent (having won last year’s district), the majority of the runs were unearned due to defensive lapses.  Stuyvesant pitcher Jack Conlon (who would end up completing the game in 73 pitches) kept the Downtown team from scoring in the first, including his first of twelve strikeouts.  In the bottom of the inning, Ryan Porcaro gave up three runs, but then he demonstrated why he made the tournament team by striking out the next two batters, ending the rally. 

In the top of the second, the Downtown team was unable to connect with the ball.  Batters who had impressive on-base percentages during the regular season couldn’t match Conlon.  In the bottom of the inning, Michael Bogdanos made a diving catch at second to help ho;ld Stuuyvesant to one run.

Down 4-0, the Downtown team tried to shake off it off, and the excitement began to build with Douglass Stapler’s cannon to centerfield for a stand-up double.  He was caught stealing, however, and two more strikeouts for Conlon ended another scoreless inning for Downtown.

At the top of the fourth, Porcaro took a base on balls and stole second, but he was stranded.  The top of the fifth wasn’t any easier for the Downtown team, with two strikeouts and a ground-out to third.  Defensively, however, they were able to shut out the Stuyvesant team in their first scoreless inning. 

In the Downtown team’s last licks, all three batters had trouble against the Mighty Conlon, and the deflated Downtown team took a 9-0 loss, which automatically pitted them against Inwood on Monday night.

Inwood win
The Downtown Tournament team was anxious to show the Inwood team what they were made of, and headed to 103rd Street refreshed and ready. The Inwood team, fresh off a 10-0 loss, was just as hungry, and from the size of them, it appeared they had just eaten.  The Downtown team tried not to be intimidated by the more mature-looking team, but when they lost the coin toss, a couple of faces fell.  And then the contest began. 

Ryan Porcaro led off with a single against Rodriguez on the mound.  Moses Rubin cranked one to the hole in left center field, driving in Porcaro but getting nabbed at third.  In the bottom of the inning, the Inwood team caught up and then some.  Collado reached first on an error and Gahrman hit a little dribbler to Rubin on the mound and made it to first just in time.  Tapia smacked one to centerfield for an R.B.I. single, moving Gahrman to second.  Rodriguez also found the hole in centerfield for an R.B.I., but Gahrman was tagged out at third. Garcia was credited with an RBI when Rodriguez stole home on the overthrow.  Machada’s soaring smack to left field took him to first base, and Jimenez’s shot to second base was mishandled, allowing two runs.  Vasquez walked, but Mejia flied out to Porcaro at third to end the inning.

 Down 4-1, the Downtown team’s Douglass Stapler took a base on balls, as did Michael Bogdanos and Tyler Rohan, setting the table for Porcaro.  His single drove in Stapler to add another run for Downtown.  In the bottom of the inning, despite the coaching in Spanish from the sidelines, the Inwood team was shut out.  It was Rubin’s inning, as he snagged two ground balls in a row.  Tapia singled and stole second, and when Rodriguez batted a grounder to third, Porcaro scooped it up and in a heads-up play chased after Tapia and tagged him out.

In the top of the third, Downtown added another run.  Rubin singled and stole to third, and Stapler’s single brought him in.

The score was now 4-3, and the Downtown team, coaches and fans were thrilled to still be in the game.  But a few fielding errors resulted in another two runs scoring before some good plays by Porcaro and William Steere ended the inning.

Now down 6-3, Downtown was desperate to catch up, but even with a walk by Jackson Vertucci and Porcaro, the base-runners were left stranded.  In the bottom of the fourth, Rubin struck out Brito.  Gahrman cranked one to right, and the throw to second smacked Vertucci in the face, sending him to the emergency room (he was still in the hospital awaiting his x-rays at this writing, and was most upset that he hadn’t caught the ball!) Nicky Leong re-entered play for Vertucci, and the Downtown team shifted some other positions. Rodriguez made it to first when his grounder to Leong at shortstop was thrown to second for the force-out.  James Borrelli stood his ground at second as Tapia came in like a locomotive, tagging him out and then doing a somersault over his back to save from being crushed!  Rodriguez stole second, and during Garcia’s at-bat, stole third as well. (After the third out, the league official called the field ump over to the scoring table to tell him he’d missed the call- Rodriguez had left the bag too early.)  But only Gahrman scored, and a great play by Leong ended the inning and used up the last of Rubin’s 75 pitches.

In the top of the fifth, facing Gahrman, Dante Secada-Oz walked and stole a base, but was stranded there, leaving the score 7-3.  In the bottom of the inning, against Stapler on the mound, Jimenez reached first on an error, but Stapler retired Vasquez.  Mejia hit a soaring fly ball to left field, which was snagged handily by Rubin for the second out.  Collado grounded out to Stapler for the final out of a scoreless inning for Inwood.

For their last at-bat, the Downtown team had all the fans on their feet, and the Inwood team started to chant about having won.  They got quieter as their pitcher walked Rohan, who stole to second.  Porcaro took a base on balls, too, and stole to second as Rohan stole to third.  Jack McGreevey knew he was due, and torpedoed the ball to left center, driving in both runners.  Rubin walked, and Gabriel Quinones also heard the call, blasting a double that drove in McGreevey and Rubin, tying the game at 7. Gahrman, who’d already been penalized for throwing off the rubber, then warned for arguing the plate umpire’s calls, spiked his glove and was ejected from the game.  Downtown’s manager Louis Valenzuela was able to choose his replacement, and picked Juncaj. With the sun setting over the Hudson as the backdrop, the Downtown team knew they had to complete the sixth inning or the 4 runs they’d scored wouldn’t count.  Stapler stepped up to the plate, drove in Quinones, touched first and then walked to the dugout.  Whether it was confusion or pure baseball genius, he was called out to end the inning, although the eighth run had already scored, thus allowing the bottom of the inning to be played out before the sun set.

Ahead for the first time the entire game, the Downtown team ran to the field to defend their lead.  The Downtown fans were thrilled when Stapler struck out Juncaj.  They went nuts when Bogdanos tore into foul territory to catch Tapia’s fly ball for the second out.  But it was complete mayhem when Rodriguez grounded to Porcaro, who threw to first for the final out.  And Downtown Wins!  And Downtown Wins!! 

The team’s coaches are Al Borrelli, John McGreevey, Mike Rubin, Matthew Bogdanos and Santos Rosa.  And of course, hats off to the other players chosen to the tournament team who gave it their all in practices, games and in the stands: Liam Fuerst, Niall Gallagher, Elan Halpern, Clyde Huibregtse, Valentino Rosa and Jacob Turner.

 Their next game is July 16.




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