Rockaway Express Loses Championship Game
The Rockaway Express concluded their spring season in the Kings Bay Little League AAA American coming just short of their goal as they lost in the championship game, 9-6, to the Bergen Beach Seadogs. The boys from Rockaway had a hugely successful season as the group of 8- and 9-year-olds from Rockaway Little League finished a strong third in the 10-year-old division and handed the champion Seadogs their only two losses of the season.
The Express beat the Gerritsen Beach Tigers 2-0 in their first playoff game in the double elimination tournament. James Resker, Daniel Green and Tom Resker combined for the shutout. Daniel Sumrall drove in Ian Byrne with a base hit in the second inning and Daniel Green knocked in Kieran Conaghan in the third for all the scoring.
The Express then moved on to face the Seadogs. They had previously split two games during the regular season, each winning by the score of 12-3. This time the advantage went to the Seadogs, 10-0, as Bergen Beach starting pitcher Alex Cruzado was dominant, pitching five shutout innings and striking out 14. The Express played the Seadogs even until fielding miscues in the third, fifth and sixth innings cost them runs. That proved too much to overcome against Cruzado that day.
The Express then faced MQH in the loser’s bracket with the loser going home and the winner facing the Seadogs for the championship. With the season on the line, Ian Byrne pitched five masterful, gritty shutout innings to lead the Express to a 7-0 victory and a spot in the finals.
The Express, coming from the losers’ bracket, now needed to win two games against the Seadogs while the Seadogs only needed one victory for the championship. In perhaps the most exciting game of season, the Express prevailed 6-5 with a walkoff win to force a second game. The Seadogs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning and, with Cruzado on the mound again, they felt confident the game was going their way. Ian Byrne came in to pitch the second and third and held the Seadogs to a single run. He was helped in the second by catcher James Agoglia who threw out the runner attempting to steal third and in the third by centerfielder Daniel Green who made a diving catch and shortstop James Resker who made a nifty pick-up and throw for out. Cruzado lost his control in the bottom of the third and the Express pulled to 4-3 with bases loaded and two outs. Daniel Sumrall then stroked a base hit to center bringing in Joe Tammaro from third with the tying run. Ian Byrne, attempting to score from second, was thrown out at the plate in a controversial play. Daniel Green came in to pitch and held the Seadogs scoreless the next two innings. The teams entered the sixth tied 4-4. The Seadogs scored a run in the top of the inning. Needing one to tie and two to win, Philly Benoit led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and Billy Reyes smacked a single. James Resker smoked a double to right bringing in Benoit with the tying run and putting the winning run on third. After a strikeout, Tom Resker laced a base hit to left for the win to force a second game. The final game started the opposite way from the prior one as the Express jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first against Cruzado, forcing him from the game. The Seadogs picked up two in the bottom of the inning and then took the lead in the second as Joe Corozzo just beat out an infield hit with two outs to load the bases. The Seadogs took advantage of that to score five runs, the final three coming on a bases loaded triple by James Aspromonte. Philly Benoit drove in Matty McDonagh in the top of the third to bring the Express back within a run at 7-6. The game stayed that way as pitchers Tom Resker of the Express and Justin Cammareri of the Seadogs kept throwing strikes and both defenses made play after play. The Seadogs scored twice more in the fifth. The Express, down to their final at bat, hit the ball well in the sixth as they had all game but the Seadogs continued their good fielding to secure the win and the championship.
The Express now look forward to playing in the Summer Sizzler tournament in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on July 16-17 where they’ll meet top teams from all over the Northeast.