Volume 17 • Issue 5 | June 25 - July 1, 2004

SPORTS


Downtown Express photos by Elisabeth Robert

Emmet Smith, the Downtown Little League Mariners’ second baseman makes the catch as Nicky Bader of the Brewers slides safely into the bag in the last game of the season.

Downtowners close with a bang on new fields

By David H. Ellis

Summer may have just started, but some ball players have already packed up their bats and gloves, as last weekend signaled the end of the season for the Downtown Little League.

With the return of the league to the Battery Park City ball fields, following a two- year hiatus, and a jump in participation in the league, organizers believed that 2004 was an important year for the members.

“The season was a great success this year,” said Wallace Tuberville, a member of the league’s board of directors. “We were able to use our home fields and the kids were able to play in their neighborhood.”

The league, which had an estimated 400 children participate in this year’s 12th season, opened the nine-week season during the weekend of April 17th with four baseball divisions and a girls’ softball league. For the last two years, the league was unable to use the fields due to World Trade Center Recovery operations in the spring of 2002, while heavy November rains delayed the opening the new fields in 2003.

According to Tuberville, the league saw an increase in numbers in several divisions, which was attributable to the fact that the league returned to the Battery Park City ballfields. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the season was not a player’s E.R.A. or batting average, but the increased participation at the tee ball level, which he believes is a good indicator for the future of the league.

“We saw a large growth in the tee ballers, which suggests that the league is going to continue to grow,” said Tuberville about the division, which expanded from eight to 12 teams this year. “They’ll come through the process and we welcome that because a major goal of our organization is participation and for more kids to get involved.”

As for the 2005 season, organizers hope to continue to attract potential players by making themselves more visible to the community and to streamline the enrollment process.

“We are going to advertise more to parents in community who have kids who want to play but aren’t familiar with the process,” he said. “We do want participation. That’s our mandate.”

With this year’s jump in players and hopeful about another rise in participation next year, Tuberville and other organizers remained optimistic even though field space is already at a premium and will continue to be next season.

“Our participation was so great that even with those fields we still had to reach out to other facilities,” Tuberville said about this year’s season, which included some games at Coleman Obel fields. “That will be a continuing problem as we grow. But that’s a good problem to have as demand is great.”

Game highlights

MARINERS vs. BREWERS - MINORS

By picking up four runs in their last at-bat, the minor league Mariners ended the season with a victory in a 9-6 final against the Brewers last Saturday. Despite missing several players to injuries, including Charles Porcaro to a broken wrist, and starting the game with only eight players, the Mariners still managed to add a game to their win column. Injured player Tyler Marshad lead the Mariners as he started on the mound and picked up the team’s first R.B.I. of the game. Teammate Emmet Smith led the Mariners offense, getting on base three times during the contest and driving in three runs. Michael Herman provided support for the Mariners from the mound, going three innings, while Tommy Nellen closed out the contest, striking out the side in the final frame.

Giants vs. Reds – Majors

The major league Giants relied on hitting from across the bench to cap their final game of the season with a 9-2 victory over the Reds last Sunday. The Giants gained the advantage in the contest in the third inning, collecting four runs and adding another two in the fifth off of Nestor Ouranitsas’ double that produced two R.B.I. Owen Kimmel, who went 4-4 on the day, led the offensive assault for the Giants while teammates Max Sternberg, Sam Gilberg, Corey Greenblatt, and Brandon Diaz each picked up one R.B.I. Joshua Colon also helped the Giants towards a victory by going 2-2 at the plate. Giant hurlers Gilberg, Kimmel and Diaz all had strong pitching performances, collecting a total of 12 strikeouts during the contest.

Gilberg finished the season with a 1.62 E.R.A., while Kimmel and Diaz collected 23 and 34 strikeouts respectively. The Giants end the season with a 10-3 record, earning second place in the division.
 
Pirates vs. Athletics – Minors

The Pirates clinched the division title last Saturday in a 9-3 victory over the Athletics. Coming off a 12-10 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday, the Pirates appeared confident on offense and defense. Despite superb pitching by the Athletics’ Harrison Hutton the Pirates broke away in the second inning with back-to-back home runs by Liam Gallagher and David Benjamin. Pirates’ pitchers Josh Blaney and Josh Lawrence managed to limit the Athletics to only three runs during the contest. Lucas Rosario, Ethan Goodrum, Mike Ajami, Devin Kolb, Harris Uslander, Matt Tuzzino and Aren Gallagher contributed to the Pirates victory with strong offensive and defensive performances. The Pirates finish the season with an 8-3 record.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to all of the Downtown Little League coaches who helped with the game reports this season and congratulations to all of the players on a successful first season on the new Battery Park City ballfields.



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