Published July 2, 2021
MELROSE—The top seeded Nationals and the second seed Phillies faced off in the Majors finals for the 2021 crown over two games on June 23 and 25 at Lewis Monk field. Just one point separated these two teams in the regular season standings. The Nationals entered game one of the finals undefeated in the double elimination tournament having won three straight playoff games including a dramatic comeback win to earn a shot at the city title. The Phillies needed four wins to reach the finals after dropping a game to the red hot Padres.
Game One. Phillies 2, Nationals 0
It was a special night in Melrose Little League history on June 23 at Lewis Monk field, as rain forced the minor finals to be delayed a day, setting up a double header finals night. The Minor League Orioles and Dodgers played their game at 4:00 p.m., with the O’s clinching the 2021 Minor League Championship ahead of the Phillies vs. Nationals game. The Majors game went off just after 6:00 p.m. on a beautiful June night. The Phillies got on the board early with a hit batter that eventually scored on a Ray Willis double to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. The Phillies also scored in the top of the 3rd as Luke Mestjian made his way around the bags.
The story of this game however was all pitching, as two 12-year-old all-star players stole the show. The Nationals’ Nate Geer pitched a great game: 1 hit, 12 strikeouts, and 1 earned run over 5 2/3 innings to give the home team a chance. Nick Picariello of the Phillies was equally outstanding: 2 hits, 13 strikeouts, and 0 runs over 5 2/3 innings pitched. Picariello’s performance blanked the Nationals offense. The Phillies win forced a decisive final game.
Nationals 10, Phillies 1. As a reward for winning game one, the Phillies were the home team for the winner take all game on Friday, June 25 at Lewis Monk field. The Nationals were short handed as strong hitting Luke Kelley was unavailable.The Phillies skilled defense held the Nationals scoreless in the top of the first, William Bidgood hauled in a deep fly ball to turn an extra base hit into an out. Jay Dennison was outstanding behind the plate for the Phillies all playoffs.
The Nationals finally got on the board in the top of the second inning, Ryan Philbin (2-3, 1B, 2B, 5RBI) knocked in Tyler Walsh (1-1, 2B, 2R, 2BB) and Cam Doyle (1-2, 1R, BB) giving the Nats a 2-0 lead.The Nationals bats were at it again in the 3rd inning. Robert Pino smacked a single (2-3, 1B, 2B, Run) and then Nate Geer launched a home run shot to right center to give the Nats a 4-0 lead. John Bonacorsi caught a deep fly to hold the Phillies scoreless in the home half of the inning.The Nationals tacked on more runs in the 4th inning. Jake Connor fought his way on to eventually score and Chris Woodman, who had hits in each of the Nationals playoff games, knocked in reliable leadoff man, Dylan Smith, as part of a four run 4th inning.
The Phillies’ Max Hoag, Shane Pitcher James Sarnoski, James Tillis, and Donavan Wein kept the game in check with catches that saved runs.
Nationals’ pitcher, Koji Bachner, stifled the Phillies high powered offense. Going 5 1/3 innings with 1 run, 6 hits and 8 strikeouts, he threw an outstanding game to cap his Little League career.