North Reading 9/10s top Wilmington for crown

Published August 15, 2019

NORTH READING — The North Reading Little League Hornets brought home the 2019 Jimmy Fund 9/10 year-old District Championship, defeating the Wilmington Wildcats, 13-8, on August 3, on a beautiful morning for baseball at Woburn’s Weafer Park.

Nerves were running high after players were announced over the loudspeaker; doffing their caps while lined-up from home to third, with patriotic bunting adorning the outfield fences beckoning to them during a stirring rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” But after falling behind early – and following an epic win-or-go-home extra-inning battle two days earlier in the semifinals ­– this resolute team of gamers completed another stunning comeback in front of some raucous home-grown NR travelling fan support.

STARS OF THE SUMMER – The North Reading Little League 9/10-year-old Jimmy Fund team captured the 2019 District championship, capping its 9-2 season with a big victory over Wilmington in the title game. Pictured are: (Coaches) Joe Wells, Nate Schomp, Kevin Cabral, Frank Giordano; (Standing): Harry Wells, Cole Verdonck, Hendrik Schomp, Ryan DiCarlo, Jackson Merrill; (Kneeling): Mikey Corvino, Brendan Nelson, Ian Baker, Anthony Giordano; (Lounging): Lucas Cabral, Gavin Griffith; (Missing): Damian Pagliuca, Vincent Pagliuca. (Courtesy Photo)

It capped a thrilling summer for the young squad. Following the season-opening Jimmy Fund Jamboree at Benevento Park (featuring an appearance by a Boston Red Sox World Series trophy!), the Hornets dropped a contest at Wakefield in excruciating walk-off fashion. But this team of 9-year-olds rebounded behind some spectacular play and the emergence of talent all over the field, losing only once again, to an exceedingly worthy competitor – the North Reading Sting – and finished the regular season at 6-2. With a vacation-depleted lineup heading into the playoffs, a first-round bye and a second-round 9-0 victory over Woburn helped preserve the pitching staff, which would come in handy for the semifinals against Stoneham two days later.

Battling some major league talent, rising pitch counts, an increasingly vocal crowd, and, finally, waning daylight, the Hornets buckled down. They cut down four runners at the plate, the last of which came on a perfect relay from right field to keep things tied and set up the thrilling rally in the bottom of the eighth for the 9-8 victory to earn the right to play for the championship.

In the title game, gritty pitching and a lock-down defense allowed the stymied offense just enough opportunities to come alive over some tense middle innings. By the time it was over, solid contributions from up and down the lineup and aggressive running on the base-paths turned an early five-run deficit into the final five-run margin of victory.

This hard-earned “W” capped a fun summer of baseball for the nearly 100 North Reading kids across three separate age groups from 8-12 playing neighboring towns through the Jimmy Fund Little League regular season and playoffs. NRLL also ran the Jimmy Fund Sandlot Series for nearly 50 young ballplayers in the 4-7 year-old range, all while supporting a great cause that is still taking donations through September 13 to help “Take a Swing at Cancer.” Donations can be made through