A Grand Celebration: RLL Kicks Off 60th Season
More than 500 children and parents marched in the Parade of Teams. Senator Charles Schumer and Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder addressed the crowd as did Rockaway Little League (RLL) President Marty Andresen. The ceremony began when emcee Robby Schwach asked the crowd for a moment of silence to pray for the victims of the Boston bombing and those neighbors we lost during Hurricane Sandy.
Following RLL tradition, the first game of the year was played by athletes from the Challenger division. Meanwhile, half a dozen amusement rides provided by NY Funtime were opened to the youngsters. Basset Catering cooked and served a full spread of ballpark classics (hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.). As part of its continuing effort to get every boy and girl back to the normalcy and fun of baseball, Rockaway Little League made this year’s Opening Day Celebration free for all registered children and their parents. Between reduced fees and free tickets, RLL has invested close to $30,000 in Rockaway families in 2013.
Rockaway families also benefitted from the generosity of Americans from across the country. RLL conducted its second distribution of donated equipment. With major donations from Pitch In For Baseball, the Mountain Ridge Little League of Las Vegas, NV and the Putnam Valley Little League of New York, RLL has been able to replace basic gear for more than 200 Rockaway boys and girls.
There was a limited slate of baseball games on Opening Day but no shortage of excitement. The marquee matchup was a Major Boys tilt between the Seaway Marine Cubs and the Walsh Management A’s. On paper this looked to be a classic pitcher’s duel between the Cubs’ Timmy Connolly and Kevin Erhard of the A’s, and the starters did not disappoint. Inning after inning they each mowed down the opposing team, waiting for the other to wilt.
Finally, in the bottom of the 4th, the Cubs pushed across a run sparked by a leadoff hit from Brandon Reynolds. Like clockwork, the A’s, led by Brian McDonald and Matty Ostrander, then pushed across two runs in their half of the inning to take a 2-1 lead as things looked grim for the Cubs. Undeterred though, the Cubs worked the count masterfully and scratched out a run in the top of the 5th to tie the game 2- 2, while forcing the A’s starter from the game due to pitch count limits. Connolly held strong through the bottom of the 5th, as his pitch count limit was reached just as he finished the inning.
In the top of the 6th, Connolly then helped his own cause by blasting a two-out double to left field that missed going out of the park by just a couple of feet. Connolly then came around to score the eventual winning run on Griffin Skammel’s RBI base hit. TJ Powderly came on in the bottom of the 6th to shut the door. He added to the drama by issuing two bases on balls. With the tying run on third and the potential winning run on second, Powderly induced a comebacker to end the A’s hopes and earn the save in the Cubs 3-2 victory. This was a well-played game by both sides that did RLL proud as part of its Opening Day festivities.
Rockaway Little League is very proud of its Opening Day Committee, which once again worked tirelessly to produce a great event. Kudos go to Rose Resker, Randy Koenig, Tom Allcock, Richie Mills, Stu Mackoff, Robby and Belinda Schwach, Robin Zweifler, Rob Rose and Kamin Green. Several other Board members pitched in early on Sunday to get the facility ready.
Of course, it remains a near miracle that the Little League fields and clubhouse survived amid the destruction so many neighbors experienced. In addition to good fortune, RLL was able to get the fields ready to play due to the hard work and sweat of John Duggan, Matt Piccione, John Perrotta and the cooperation of Gateway.
Everyone should note: Fort Tilden as a whole is still closed. Our families have permission to use the area around our fields only. The rest of Fort Tilden is still closed due to safety concerns.
On Monday, the first girls’ softball game of the year was played with the Friends of Phil Goldfeder Gators edging the Knights of Columbus Buckeyes 12-8. The ladies sported their new college style uniforms.
Mary Conroy was throwing some heat for the Buckeyes with a few strike outs, as well as some excellent fielding. The infield supported their pitcher, with Maggie Brady assisting at second base, and Kathleen Walker grabbing any ball that came her way at to first base. Samantha Rom proved herself as a force to be reckoned with at third base, wow, what an arm!! Marie-Elise Piccione and Gianna Grillo split time at short stop, both showing they aren’t afraid of getting in front of the ball to make a play.
The Buckeyes did well offensively against the very talented Gators pitcher, Meghan Duffy. Emily Frerks of the Buckeyes had a few solid hits, including a double that drove in a run and one that would have soared into left field if the Hoover-like glove of Emma Meade hadn’t gotten to it first! Mary Haley proved she was ready for the Major Girl Division stealing bases and scoring runs like a pro! Victoria Meier also contributed to the Buckeyes’ eight runs and did an excellent job covering the plate as catcher. Catherine Wrynn only got up once before heading to a National Honor Society Event, but we’re looking forward to seeing more from her throughout the season!!
DIAMOND DUST: Cable station NY1 News covered Opening Day...Clare Socks are on sale again this year in the Clubhouse. Proceeds will support alum Clare Droesch in her battle against cancer. Keep fighting Clare!...Stay up to date on RLL.