CRANSTON, R.I. -- Massapequa manager Paul DeGiovanni says he likes to watch solid Little League baseball.
Yesterday’s walk-off win against Berlin, Md. should fit into that category.
The 9 and 10-year old New York state champions overcame two deficits, highlighted by Anthony Patullo’s walk-off single with the bases loaded, to send Massapequa into the Mid-Atlantic title game in Cranston, R.I at the East Region Invitational.
“This is what it’s all about,” DeGiovanni said. “This is what we come down here for -- to see a game that goes back and forth like that. Win or lose, in a situation like that you just want to see good Little League baseball.”
The victory did not come easily for Massapequa, as Maryland kept New York’s batters in check for the first four innings and got a bit of support at the plate. Maryland shortstop Tristan McDonough and Matt Kinsey were responsible for the team’s first three runs -- McDonough’s solo home run in the third made the Maryland advantage 3-0.
The bottom of the fourth marked the first New York comeback. Two walks and four hits for Massapequa gave it the lead, 5-3. Erik Treble hit a two-run double to center to tie it and Nick Schneider followed up with an infield single to second base to score Treble and give New York its first lead.
“That’s a good ball team,” Berlin manager Cameron McDonough said. “I really don’t understand how they lost a game. I don’t. They’re a very, very high quality team. They got their timing down -- they started hitting the ball.”
Sitting on a 5-3 cushion entering the sixth, Massapequa needed its three outs to clinch its Mid-Atlantic title game berth. But Berlin wasn’t ready to pack it in just yet.
Three walks loaded the bases for Maryland and Tristan McDonough made use of it by doubling off the wall in right-center to score two runs and tie the game.
With two outs, Wes Powell knocked a single up the middle to drive in two more runs. Maryland had the lead and the momentum, jumping ahead 7-5.
It was then a matter of New York having enough steam to come back one last time. And it seemed it had plenty of it.
Mike Moreno started the inning with a single and Garrett Gibbons followed with a double. Treble then walked to load the bases for Schneider. Schneider hit a grounder to the shortstop whose thrown to third base got away and allowed two runs to come home on the error. Dylan DeGiovanni was intentionally walked to load the bases again and then Patullo saw his pitch and drilled a single to center to end the ballgame.
“The innocence at the 10-year old level is absolutely amazing,” DeGiovanni said. “They have no concept of the fact that they just beat hundreds of Little Leagues to get to this point.”
Despite the loss, McDonough is still pleased with how the experience is playing in this tournament with family and fan support.
“My hats off to them,” McDonough said. “They played a hell of a game. Their fans and coaches were really cool and everything and it’s an enjoyable experience to play against a team good like that, who’s coached well and everybody’s who’s out here for the kids.”
Massapequa is off until the Mid-Atlantic championship game on Friday at 2:00 p.m. Maryland still has a chance of making the title game, but it will have to defeat Pennsylvania tonight at 5:00 p.m.