Little League: Heroes plentiful in District 2 showdown
It is impossible to predict which baseball player will make the pitch, catch or hit that can give a team the upper hand.
For Trumbull American’s 11U All-Stars in their 2-1 District 2 victory over Trumbull National, a strong case can be made for Josh Searles after he went the other way to double home the go-ahead runs in the top of the sixth inning at Unity 3 on Sunday.
Or was it starting pitcher Jack Larkin, who allowed only a second-inning double to James Callaghan through three innings?
Defensively, Trumbull American left fielder Jacob Pokok made an outstanding catch to rob Vinny Lombardo of an at bat.
And, second baseman Daniel Vidal made a great stop on William Margolies’ low liner with the tying run on first in the bottom of the sixth. On that play, he got the force out on Callaghan who had walked.
Relief pitcher Andrew Valentino then put the last out in the book on a grounder to Sam Kubie at third base.
And, if Trumbull American manager Brian Delaney could cast the deciding vote?
“The players proved today as a team how good they can be,” said Delaney, who saw his club improve to 2-3. “We had a rough start (in Districts), but these kids never stopped working.”
Searles’ clutch hit scored Mason Beardsworth, who had ended Trumbull National’s Jack Shannon’s string of seven consecutive batters retired with an infield single.
Vidal followed with a ringing double to left field that took one hop to the fence.
After Searles’ two-bagger, Ryan Johnston came on in relief. Ben Parente at second base made a stellar catch on J.P. Lobuono’s liner and doubled the runner off the bag.
Larkin doubled deep down the line, but was stranded when Johnston posted a strikeout.
Trumbull National, also 2-3, took a 1-0 lead in the home fourth on Margolies’ sacrifice fly to center field.
Vinny Lombardo opened the frame with the first hit for Milford National, a single to left.
Jack Shannon lined a base hit to right center, before Parente was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Larkin notched a pair of strikeouts around the sac fly to limit the damage.
“Jack Larkin pitched an unbelievable game,” Trumbull National manager Al Carbone said of the right hander. “He kept us off balance and we couldn’t get that big hit when we needed it.”
Trumbull American’s James Delaney walked and Kubie singled, but were stranded in the first inning on consecutive strikeouts by the right-handed Shannon.Tr
In the second, it was Potok who walked and Larkin who singled, only to be left on the bags after a brace of force outs at second by Trumbull American’s Vidal.
Beardsworth and Vidal had a pair of two-out singles in the third, but Johnston at short started a 6-4 force play.
Lombardo played a great center field for Trumbull National, and took away a base hit in the gap from Lobuono to start the fourth.
“Jack Larkin is our ace and proved it today,” said Delaney, who is assisted by Angelo Magliocco and Ron Valentino. “Josh (Searles) had that big hit with an 0-2 count. We had a lot of big hits, something we weren’t able to do until the last two games.”
Carbone, who is assisted by Gary Johnston and Jack Shannon, said, “I told the kids after we lost our first two that we had to win three if we wanted to keep playing. Every team in District 2 is so good, you have to play at your best every inning.”
Delaney said, “This game is a testament to Trumbull baseball. Both teams had a clean game on defense. The pitching was definitely great by both teams. Al’s team answered the bell and I don’t think the game was too big for any of the players.”
Trumbull American team members are James Delaney, Andrew Valentino, Sam Kubie, Mason Beardsworth, Daniel Vidal, Josh Searles, Jacob Potok, Jack Larkin, Chris Donofrio, Russell Katragadda, J.P. Lobuono, Ayden Magliocco and Chase Marsilius.
Team members for Trumbull National are Ryan Johnston, Nolan Carbone, Vinny Lombardo, Jack Shannon, Ben Parente, James Callaghan, William Margolies, Kaiden Escobar, Sebastian Perez, Nash Daly, Michael Pogany and Sean Haight.
Roundup: Trumbull National edged Trumbull American for the No. 4 seed into the double-elimination 11U playoffs by virtue of run ratio (National allowed 15 runs in 30 innings compared to Trumbull American and Fairfield American). Fairfield National (3-2) is seeded first, followed by Westport (3-2), Monroe (3-2) and Trumbull National (2-3).