Published July 5, 2019

MELROSE — The Melrose Little League Major Division Nationals captured the 2019 City Championship on a perfect morning for baseball on Sunday, June 23 at Lewis Monk Field. The Nationals finished the year winning 10 of their final 11 games, including an unbeaten run through the double elimination playoff tournament that culminated on Sunday with a 6-3 victory over the Red Sox.  A talented, well coached team, the Red Sox won four games to make it to the championship game.  However, this was the Nats’ year as they claimed their first city championship since 2015.

THE NATIONALS are 2019 Melrose Little League City champs. (Courtesy Photo)

Nationals 3 Red Sox 0 Wednesday, June 12

The Nationals opened the playoffs with a solid 3-0 win over the Red Sox.  In the bottom of the 1st, the Nationals scored two quick runs behind hits from John Recinito (2 hits, run), Daniel Ferris (triple, hit, run, 2 RBI) and Brendan Doyle (hit, RBI).  Colin Walsh (hit, run) and Mikey Thomas (hit) also helped plate another run in the 4th for the Nationals.  The story of this game was the Nationals defense and the pitching of starter Colin Walsh.  Walsh was masterful, striking out 11 batters while only allowing a first inning single to Red Sox slugger Mikey O’Leary, and a 4th inning walk to Calvin Zimmerman.  The Nationals defense sparkled behind two clutch catches by outfielder Ryan McAndrew.  Anders Giuliano, John Burke, catcher Ryan Feeney, Riley Constantine and Brayden Pesce all contributed to the Nationals solid team defense.  The Red Sox battled all night long behind catcher Sam Cognata, Matthew Fuccione, Josh Bird, Nolan Natale, Jack McAree, Jonah Tully, Nick Vassalo, Rocco Kraunelis and Jack Kavanagh.

Nationals 8 Tigers 1 Wednesday, June 19 

In the MLL semi-finals, the Nationals defeated the Tigers 8-1 at Lewis Monk.  A balanced offensive attack and continued stellar defense by the Nationals helped propel the Nat’s into the championship game.  The Nationals scored first in the bottom of the 2nd inning behind the red hot bats of Daniel Ferris (2 doubles, run, RBI), Brendan Doyle (double, hit, 2 runs, RBI), and Colin Walsh (double, hit, 2 RBI, run).  Anders Giuliano (hit, RBI, run), Mikey Thomas (hit, run), Jack Feeney (double, RBI), John Recinito (run), and Riley Constantine (hit, run) all played a big role in sparking the Nationals offense.  The Tigers countered with strong defense and timely hitting, led by starting pitcher Quinn Mathews (hit, run).  Catcher Dylan Harrington (hit) played solid two way baseball, as did Tyler Garipay, Timmy Rosell (hit, RBI), Cavan O’Leary (hit), and Quinn Fogarty (hit).  Matthew Plamer pitched well in relief, and Keegan Moloney, Brendan Sestito, Charlie Keefe, Owen Mujali, and Sam Federico all played strong for the Tigers.  The Nationals made a number of key defensive plays behind Sam Mathews and Ryan McAndrew.  With the Tigers threatening in the 5th inning and runners on base, shortstop Mikey Thomas and second baseman John Burke made back to back plays, teaming up to get the lead runner at 2nd base.  Centerfielder Brayden Pesce, Thomas and Burke all teamed up for a well executed relay with two good throws and a true tag by Burke at 2nd base to end the Tigers threat.

Nationals 6 Red Sox 3 Sunday, June 23

On Championship Sunday, the Red Sox came to play.  Speedy leadoff hitter Josh Bird (hit, run) singled to start the game and was hit home by a double by Sammy Cognata (double, hit, RBI) giving the Sox a quick 1-0 lead.  Not to be outdone, the Sox rallied again in the 2nd inning scoring twice more behind an Andrew Fucci walk and an RBI double by Nolan Natale.  Aggressive base running by Natale got him to 3rd and he’d continue to home when a Nat’s throw missed the mark.  Calvin Zimmerman also added a hit for the Sox.  The Nationals put two dozen balls into play in this game and the Red Sox defense made several plays with fine plays from Mikey O’Leary, Matthew Fuccione, Jonah Tully, Rocco Kraunelis, Nick Vassalo, and Jack McAree.  The Nationals offense was relentless, sending hard hit ball after hard hit ball into play.  The deep Nat’s were led offensively by Daniel Ferris (2 doubles, RBI), Colin Walsh (3 singles, 2 RBI, 2 runs), Sam Mathews (2 hits, 2 runs), and John Recinito (triple, double, 2 runs).  Brendan Doyle (double) and Mikey Thomas (hit, RBI) provided offense and solid defense.  Catcher Doyle cut down a would-be stealer with a strong throw to 2nd and a true tag by Thomas.  Anders Giuliano (2 hits), John Burke (walk, HBP), Jack Feeney (hit), Riley Constantine (hit), and Ryan McAndrew (hit) all were part of the Nationals attack.  In a 3-3 game in the bottom of the 4th inning with two outs, speedy lefty Brayden Pesce lashed a line drive double to left to score Mathews, giving the Nationals a lead they would not relinquish.  The Nat’s offense would add two insurance runs in the 5th, Colin Walsh picked up his 3rd victory of the playoffs, and Brendan Doyle and Michael Thomas combined for a five out save in relief of Walsh to clinch the 2019 Major Division City Championship for the Nationals!