RLL Champions Will Be Crowned
After a Sandy-compacted, action filled regular season, the past 10 days saw a flurry of Rockaway Little League playoff games that set the table for this weekend’s championship matchups in the five competitive divisions. Meanwhile, the Little League World Series qualifying tournament kicked off with Rockaway’s 10U team beginning its defense of last year’s District 27 championship with two solid wins.
The Rockaway boys opened the tournament in front of their home crowd at Fort Tilden on June 20 with a convincing 11-1 victory of RGMVM (central Queens). RLL jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in the top of the first and never looked back. Leadoff hitter Daniel Green set the tone with a game opening single and then stole second and third. That was followed by run producing hits from James Resker, Tom Resker, James Agoglia, Jason Sebastiano and James Tuohey. Rockaway followed that with two runs in each of the following innings. James Resker led the offense with three hits and Mike McManus finished off the offensive fireworks with a home run in the fourth inning.
On defense, Rockaway thoroughly stifled the RGMVM attack. Ian Byrne started the game and pitched two scoreless innings. Daniel Green pitched into the 4th allowing a single harmless run and James Resker tossed the final out. The little offense that RGMVM could muster was quickly stopped by the Rockaway defense. Catcher Agoglia threw out a would-be base stealer in the first and third baseman Tuohey snared a hard liner in the second.
Two days later, Rockaway faced a very tough Ozone Howard team and came away with a hard earned 9-2 victory that was closer than the score indicated. Ozone Howard showed they wouldn’t be an easy victim right from the start as Rockaway leadoff hitter Green was thrown out on a close call trying to steal second after leading off the game with a single. With two outs, James Resker reached base and brother Tom drove him in with a triple for the game’s first run. After a walk, Jason Sebastiano lined a solid hit to left to bring in a second run. Ozone Howard scratched out a run in the bottom of the first to pull within a run at 2-1.
Rockaway continued to apply pressure against Ozone’s solid defense. Sebastiano had an RBI double and James Tuohey an RBI single in the third inning to push Rockaway’s advantage to 4-1. Starting pitcher Byrne gave way to Green in the third who set the opposition down 1-2-3.
Rockaway’s relentless pressure began to force leaks in the Ozone Howard defense and cracks in their confidence in the top of the fourth. Green led off the inning with a walk and again challenged the OzHow catcher with a clean swipe of second. Byrne then faked a bunt and with the third baseman charging in, Green swiped third. Byrne walked a few pitches later and went right past first base for second. When the OzHow pitcher turned his attention to Byrne, Green raced home with his fifth stolen base of the game. The OzHow defense came up with two big plays after that to prevent more damage. After Ozone Howard closed to 5-2 in the fifth inning, Rockaway scored four times in the top of the sixth to finally gain a comfortable margin. Billy Reyes led off with a walk and came home on James Resker’s huge sacrifice fly to the center field fence. Tom Resker followed with his second triple of the day to knock in two and Agoglia drove him in for the final run. Ozone Howard tried to rally in the bottom of the sixth as the leadoff batter reached first safely. But the Rockaway defense again showed why they don’t give up big innings. Resker retired the side for the win.
Rockaway next plays tournament host team Rosedale in the winner’s bracket semifinal on Saturday, June 29 at 11 a.m. The winner goes on to the championship round and the loser goes into the loser’s bracket. The game will be at the Rosedale Little League field on 147th Avenue between Brookville Boulevard and 232nd Street. Rockaway Little League encourages all Rockaway residents to come down to the game and cheer on the local boys as they show the world that Rockaway is back.
Back in Fort Tilden, in Rockaway Little League playoff action, the thirdseeded Knights of Columbus Buckeyes staved off elimination and knotted the Major Girls softball championship series with a 14-8 win Tuesday night against the Elite Productions Irish. The Irish, after a 7-4 regular season and first place finish, grabbed the first game last weekend 18-8. In that game, Mary Haley pitched five innings for the Buckeyes with one strike out and caught one fly ball. She attempted to make a tag at home plate, just missing the runner. She also had a fielder’s choice over to first base, with Victoria Meier getting the out. Great defensive plays made by shortstop Morgan Connelly and third-base girl, Samantha Rom. The two made four outstanding plays together at third base. Morgan also caught three line drives while playing an awesome short stop! Keep an eye on this 5th grader; she’s got quite a glove!! Samantha Rom also caught a couple line drives. Maggie Brady shows great patience while waiting for her pitch and grabbing two walks, scoring on one. Marie-Elise Piccione and Gianna Grillo showed great speed in the outfield while the Irish were crushing the ball. Both girls hustled and made great throws holding the runners on base. Unfortunately, the Irish bats were too hot for the Buckeyes with many multiple base hits driving in a lot of runs. The Buckeyes finally stoked up their bats in the fourth inning, scoring the maximum allowed runs per inning, but at that point the Irish had already scored too many. The rubber game will be played Saturday morning.
In Minor Boys, the Resker brothers continued their baseball magic against the local competition as the undefeated E. Fitzgerald Electric A’s scored a decisive second round victory over the Metalmen Sales Diamondbacks, who had won the “play-in” game over the Belle Harbor Yacht Club Cubs. James and Tom Resker provided solid pitching and hitting. Colin Byrne with 2-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored. Dylan McLaren had three hits and three ribbies. Kiernan Conaghan also knocked in three with two hits. Brendan Connolly was solid in the field.
The Friends of Chuck Schumer Dodgers and Conte’s Carpets and Flooring Cardinals hooked up in a first round playoff game in the Minor Boys Turf Conference. Just a few days earlier, the same two teams ended the regular season against each other with the Cards squeezing by in a tightly contested 8-6 victory. The result was practically identical in the rematch as Cards won by two again, this time by 7-5.
Peter Memoli led off the game with a single against Cards starting pitcher Philly Benoit and scored on Giancarlo Conti’s run scoring base hit with one out. The Redbirds struck right back in the bottom of the inning as Corey Schwach laced a double down the right field line driving in Ryan Clark and Green for a 2-1 lead. In the top of the third, James Tuohey put the Dodgers ahead with a two-out, two-run home run to right center. Conti and Light followed with hits to put the Dodgers in front 4-2. Once again the Cards immediately struck back. Gerard McManus led off with a walk and Matt Rosenhaus followed with a hard hit double. Jack Lindon then put the Cards back on top with a three run homer to center. Schwach and Philly Benoit followed with RBI hits to increase the Cards lead to 7-4. The Dodgers closed to within 7-5 in the fifth when Tuohey doubled and Conti singled him in. The Cards killed the rally when third baseman Clark scooped a hard hit grounder and then alertly ran down and tagged Conti trying to get back to second. Lindon struck out two in the sixth to seal the Cards victory.
The Breakwater Surf Marlins had been aiming for a perfect 10-0 Pee Wee Senior season before losing the regular season finale to the Seaway Marine Cardinals. The Marlins avenged that loss with an 8-2 playoff win. Pitchers Frankie Sebastiano and Pay Ayrovainen kept the Redbird bats in check while Brendan Byrne (2-for-3, 3 RBIs), Harry Monte and James Youseff paced the attack. James Kelly was a steady glove in the infield. The Rockaway Properties Jays won a squeaker against the El Caribe Caterers A’s, 7-5. The Jays scored five runs in the second inning only to have the Athletics, who won their last four in the regular season, tie it in the top of the fourth. In the bottom half, Mathew Marten started a two-out rally with a single up the middle. Consecutive doubles by Luke Carson and Fred Teich plated two runs and the lead was back up to 7-5. Sean O’Hagan closed out the game with two scoreless innings and with the help of Vincent Gallagher turned a double play to end the fifth. It was great playoff baseball by both teams. The Jay and Marlins will play each other in the Turf Conference finals with the winner advancing to play the Championship Game Saturday against the Walsh Properties Cubs. The Cubbies made it to the finals with a 4-3, walk-off win against the Kelly’s Heros Angels on Tuesday night. The Cubs were good winners, saluting the Angels after the game; while the Angels’ coach told his team how proud he is of them. Great RLL sportsmanship all around.
Minor Girls softball saw the best pitching duel thus far in the playoffs when the DJ’s at Work A’s matched up against the J&E Industries Dodgers in the 2 vs. 3 semifinals. Spectacular pitching by both teams (Margaret Murray and Cloe Murphy of the A’s and Noel Cook and Nicole Moran of the Dodgers) kept Saturday’s game to a 1-0 Dodger lead for most of the game. Sophia Knoetgen of the A’s reached first base and advanced with a single by Mikayla Kennedy and a sacrifice by Kayla LaMantia. Kailey Aiken drove in the first run with a single down the first base line. Molly Green followed with another single. With bases loaded, Mary Israel hit a line drive that drove in what turned out to be the winning run for the A’s in a 2-1 victory.
The Major Boys kicked off their Championship series on Tuesday in exciting fashion. The Walsh Management A’s, who rose from the cellar to third place with a late season surge, locked horns with the regular season leaders, the AKB Security Giants in a wellplayed game that went to extra innings. The A’s erupted for four runs in the top of the seventh to snatch game one, 7-3. The Giants will try to rebound in game two on Saturday morning. The rubber game, if necessary, will decide the champion on Monday.