By David Graham-Caso
Neither team had
any other option.
Going into Sunday’s
nightcap at Lamade Stadium both the North Scott Little League from
Eldridge, IA and the Naamans Little League from Wilmington, DE were
0-1. Each desperately needed a win to keep their chances of advancing
beyond round-robin play. Both teams were anxious, and both teams
played like it.
In a wild showdown where the teams
combined for nine errors, Naamans own found a way to win, defeating
“We have played 20 ballgames, and I have never seen us play that
sloppy defensively,” said Iowa manager Paul Tremmel. “It was a sloppy
game, but I guess that is part of what made the game eventful.”
The game was
anything but conventional from the first inning. Iowa hurler Elliot
Schlabach dug himself a hole by loading the bases in the first, but
narrowly eluded a catastrophe by getting Cory Firmani to ground into a
The bottom half of the first was just as
tense. Delaware starter David Mastro struggled to find his control,
and a combination of a hit-batsman, a walk, two wild pitches and an
error provided Iowa with the early 3-0 lead.
Mastro made up for his shaky start on the
mound by coming through at the plate. Mastro’s single up the middle
scored two when it hopped through the legs of centerfielder Adam
a tough start,” said Delaware skipper Joe Mascelli. “We had some base
running errors and some mental mistakes early.”
Mastro ran into more problems on the mound
in the second when four Eldridge hits (two of them doubles) brought in
two more runs for the Midwest champions, giving them a comfortable
became a little less comfortable for Schlabach in the top of the
third. With two away, Firmani hammered a Schlabach fastball into the
outfield bullpen. Firmani’s first round-tripper of the tournament made
the score a narrow 5-3.
“I haven’t been
hitting real well lately,” Firmani said. “So when I saw it go out I
was real glad.”
Errors plagued the Mid-Atlantic champions
in the bottom of the third. With two outs and Blake Anderson on first,
Delaware had the opportunity to close out the inning when Netwal hit a
ground ball to third baseman Danny Frate. Frate made a good throw, but
first baseman Scott Doughtery could not squeeze the ball, and the
inning continued. Anderson slid into home safely on yet another Mastro
wild pitch and then a Vince Russomagno error at short brought in
Netwal. The nightmare inning finally ended when Mastro got Cody Ashby
to whiff on a 2-2 fastball.
Delaware would simply not go away.
Dougherty in the top of the fourth ripped a bases-loaded single over
the leaping right fielder P.J.Mills to bring in two more Wilmington
runs, again pulling Delaware to within two. The next batter, catcher
Kip Skibicki followed in suit, crushing a two-run double to the
leftfield wall and tying the game.
Naamans did not
stop there. Frate, the next batter to face Schlabach was hit by a
pitch, then Firmani singled up the middle, scoring Russomagno and
giving Delaware its first lead of the game. After Firmani’s RBI
single, Schlabach was pulled from the mound in favor of Greg Daniels.
Daniels didn’t receive any aid from his defense either, and a Jimmy
DiFrieze error kept the inning alive. It took Frate being caught in a
pickle while trying to tag up from third to mercifully end the inning.
The five-run, five-hit inning was enough for Delaware to take a 8-7
as Mastro struggled early in the game, he seemed to settle down after
his offense got him a lead. He struck out the side in the fourth and
retired the side in order in the fifth. Mastro struck out 13 overall,
including seven of the final 10 batters that he faced. \“Mastro just
got stronger as the game went on,” Tremmel said.
“I was not throwing good in the start of
the game, but I think I finished up pretty well,” the winning pitcher
next faces Richmond, TX in another do-or-die game. The winner of
Tuesday’s contest will advance to the U.S. semi-final, the loser will
Iowa team, now mathematically eliminated from contention, will face
undefeated Arizona Tuesday at 7 p.m. Tremmel expects his team to
continue their daring play in their final game as Little Leaguers.
“We are still playing for each other,”
Tremmel said. “If you love the game, you are going to go out there and
give it your best shot, and that is what we are going to do.”