Rally for six runs in sixth, defeat Americans 8-5 in District 13 Tournament play

Published in the July 8, 2015 edition


WAKEFIELD — The old saying, “It’s not over until it’s over” has often been used in baseball and former Yankee great Yogi Berra has generally been credited with using the cliche.

Nowhere was that expression more true than Fernald Field last night in an all-Wakefield battle between the National and American 9-10 year old Little League Baseball All-Stars.

The Nationals rallied for six runs in the top of the sixth inning to post a come-from-behind 8-5 victory over its crosstown rival in the final game of pool play for both teams in the District 13 Tournament

The win also allowed Wakefield to move on to the District 13 semifinals with a 2-2 record as it finished in third place after a four-way tiebreaker. Wakefield will face second place Wilmington in a semifinal contest tomorrow at 5:45 p.m. at Rotary Park in Wilmington.

The Americans, meanwhile, finished with a 1-3 record in pool play.

The Americans entered the sixth inning leading 5-2 and just three outs away from a victory. But the Nationals sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six times to take an 8-5 lead.

John Whitson led off the inning with a base hit to right field. Owen Riddell and Jacob Dubuque both walked to load the bases.

Americans staring pitcher Nate Ickes had reached his pitch limit at that point and exited the mound. Ickes went five plus innings giving up five runs on six hits while walking four and striking out three.

Gianni Mercurio pitched the sixth inning and was reached for three runs on four hits while striking out a batter.

After Mercurio got a strikeout, the Nationals put some good swings together and hit a pair of gappers. Rowan Mondello doubled to left-center field as Whitson and Riddell scored. Nick Knowles then laced a base hit by second base as Dubuque and Mondello crossed the plate. Knowles, who took second on the throw home, advanced to third base on a ground ball. Steve Woish then sent a blooper down the right field line and, when the ball got past the diving right fielder, the speedy Woish was able to make it all the way around the bases for an inside-the-park home run to make the score 8-5.

Bobby DeFeo then tripled to right field but a grounder back to the mound resulted in the third out. But the damage had been done.

The Americans attempted to rally themselves in the last of the sixth inning. After a fine defensive play by Dubuque at second base for the first out, John Porter singled to right-center field. After a line drive to shortstop, Ickes singled to right field to put runners at the corners. But a pop up that catcher Knowles made while sliding near the third base dugout ended what was a well-played game by both Wakefield teams.

The Nationals scored their initial run in the top of the first inning. Knowles (two hits) singled to right field with one out and John Regan sent a base hit up the middle. Woish walked to load the bases and a ground ball to first base by DeFeo brought in Knowles.

The Americans answered with two runs of their own in the home half of the first inning. Mercurio walked, took second on a wild pitch and advanced to third base on a throwing error by the catcher. After starting pitcher Woish made a nice catch on a line drive and a strikeout, Ickes lined a base hit to left field to score Mercurio. Ickes took second on wild pitch and advanced to third on an infield hit by David Amyouny. Phil D’Alleva singled to center field to plate Ickes to give the Americans a 2-1 lead.

Both teams went in order in the second and third innings. Mercurio made a nice play at shortstop for the Americans as he ranged to the hole to backhand a grounder and made a strong throw to first base to record the out.

The Nationals tied the game at 2-2 as they tallied a run in the top of the fourth inning. Anthony Arria singled to center field and Sara Demec walked. Danny McNeill singled by second base to load the bases. Dubuque grounded to third base with Demec being forced out. However, Arria slid in safely with the tying run.

The 2-2 deadlock didn’t last long as the Americans tallied three runs in the last of the fourth inning to take a 5-2 advantage.

Amyouny walked and took second and third on a pair of wild pitches. After two outs, Woish had reached his pitch limit and was replaced on the mound by Regan.

Woish went three and two-thirds innings for the Nationals and gave up three runs (two earned) on three hits. He struck out eight batters, walked two and threw four wild pitches.

Regan went the final two and one-third innings for the Nationals and gave up two runs on seven hits while walking two batters.

Tyler Sandanato singled to center field off Regan bringing in Amyouny. Drew Barrett then walked and Mercurio singled to right field. Porter doubled to right-center field to bring in both Sandanato and Barrett to make the score 8-5.

Both teams had base runners in the fifth inning, although the score stayed the game. Regan singled to right-center field with two outs and Woish reached on an error by the pitcher in the top of the fifth. In the last of the fifth, Ickes singled to left field but was forced at second base. D’Alleva singled to center field and Luke Ickes walked to load the bases. Amyouny, who reached on a fielder’s choice, was forced out a home for the second out and a ground ball to second resulted in the final out.

The Nationals were three outs away from defeat but saved their best for last and stormed six runs across the plate to stage the dramatic comeback win.