Volume 23, Number 10 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 16 - 22, 2010

Downtown Express photo by T.J. Westfall

Downtown Little League’s First District Champions!
Front Row: Manager Louis Valenzuela and Coach Bill Tsapalas, kneeling.  Middle row, standing: Oscar Tubke-Davidson, Devin Minnihan, Joseph Torres, Ethan Wallis, Jonathan Sandella, Spencer Kiehl, Duncan Stuard, Duke Tsapalas, Drew Child.  Back row: Coach Greg Wallis, Tyler Kraehling, James Stinnett, and Coach Sean Minnihan.
Missing from the photo: Coach Michael Rubin, and players Caleb Rubin, Julian Kaufman, William Martino and Ava Villalba.

DLL 9-10 tournament team getting hot when it counts

By Diane Rohan

On Sunday, July 11, the Downtown Little League Tournament Team’s 9 -10 division faced Westside to determine the championship for the district. The D.L.L. team lost their first game to Westside, 5-4, but that was their only loss. Knowing they needed to win six games to win the division the D.L.L. rose to the challenge. 

With hot bats and solid defense, the team began their six-game winning streak with a 20-0 blowout game over the Harlem team, followed by a 15-13 win against Kingsbridge. On July 6, the team beat Greenwich Village 20-6, and two days later beat Stuyvesant, 14-3. Saturday’s game against Westside resulted in a 10-1 lambasting.

“They never got cocky and always demonstrated the ethos of the Downtown Little League, which is ‘honor the game,’” said Bill Tsapalas, D.L.L. 9 -10 Tournament Team coach.
Tsapalas and his team weren’t discouraged by early setbacks.

“Not once did they doubt themselves. After that first game loss, they just put their nose down and worked hard. Never gave up,” he said.

Pitchers Spencer Kiehl, Oscar Tubke-Davidson, Jonathan Sandella and Devin Minnihan kept the opponents’ runs to a minimum. Sean Minnihan, Greg Wallis, Tsapalas and Michael Rubin have been coaching them. Since the D.L.L. home fields at Battery Park are not regulation, the team never once had the home field advantage, but there was mass community support nonetheless.

In the top of the first, the D.L.L.’s Ethan Wallis led off with a base on balls. Spencer Kiehl singled to centerfield, advancing Wallis to second. Wallis advanced to third on an error as Kiehl stole second. Tyler Kraehling walked, loading the bases, and Wallis scored on a wild pitch. 

Oscar Tubke-Davidson and Minnihan succumbed to strikeouts by Westside pitcher Pappas,and Jonathan Sandella grounded out to T. Richards for out three.

In the bottom of the inning, D.L.L. pitcher Minnihan struck out Richards, the first Westside batter. Pappas took a base on balls and J. Archer doubled to center, advancing Pappas to third. But Minnihan struck out E. Mills, stranding the runner and keeping the score at 1-0.

The second inning was scoreless for both teams, but there was action in the third inning. Kiehl cranked a ball to left field for a single. Kraehling took another base on balls, advancing Kiehl to second. Tubke-Davidson’s liner to right brought him to first and scored Kiehl. Kraehling advanced to third on error and scored when Minnihan reached on an error to short. Stinnet walked to load the bases, and Tsapalas walked in Minnihan. Wallis walked in the fourth run of the inning and Kiehl grounded out to end Downtown’s scoring.

In the bottom of the third, Richards reached first on an error then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Gomez grounded out to Sandella, advancing Richards to third. But he was left stranded when Minnihan struck out the next two Westside batters.

Westside’s relief pitcher Archer single-handedly shut out the Downtown team in the top of the fourth, striking out the first two batters, gloved an infield fly for out three. In the bottom of the fourth, Westside’s Mills grounded out to Minnihan on the mound. Scherr doubled to centerfield, advancing to third on a wild pitch. Tobias singled, putting runners on the corners for Alpert, who grounded out to Wallis but drove in Scherr for Westside’s sole run. Propper took a base on balls, but Minnihan struck out Richards looking to end the mini-rally for Westside.

In the top of the fifth, Downtown’s Sandella led off with a walk. Torres singled to right field, advancing Sandella to second. Archer struck out the next batter for out one, but both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Tsapalas walked to load the bases. Wallis responded with a single to short, scoring Sandella. With bases loaded Kiehl hit a fly ball well over the fence in right centerfield, making a second grand slam by Kiehl in the series.

Teammate Kraehling kept the hitting streak going with a double to left. Tubke-Davidson joined in, singling to center and advancing his teammate to third. Minnihan was hit by a pitch, loading up the bases for the third time in the inning. Sandella singled to right field, scoring Kraehling. Tubke-Davidson scored on an error, and then during Torres’ at-bat, Sandella stole second, allowing Minnihan to advance to home on a throw. Torres singled, scoring Sandella and bringing the score to 14-1, D.L.L. far in the lead, and by the bottom of the inning the opposing team couldn’t overcome the 10-run mercy rule, and the game was over.

The exciting 14-1 win made this the first time a D.L.L. Tournament Team has ever won in tournament play. As a team, the D.L.L. team hit for an average of .478 over the course of the 7 games, scoring 97 runs with 85 hits. As a team, the pitching staff had a collective ERA of 2.88 and racked up 54 strikeouts.

Their first sectional game will be played at Peter Stuyvesant Field on Saturday, July 17 at 10:30 a.m. versus East Bronx. 

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