By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The Bristol Little League Baseball City Series looked to be destined for a third and deciding game on Monday, Aug. 25 as the McCabe-Waters Yankees – trailing 1-0 in the best-of-three series against the Edgewood Cardinals – held a 4-1 edge midway through the second contest of the championship tilt.
But that lead would not hold as the Cardinals tallied five straight runs to score the City Series championship in a 6-4 win, leading to a sweep by Edgewood as the league won the championship for a fifth straight year from Frazier Field at the McCabe-Waters Little League complex.
The Yankees were certainly no pushovers and with a 4-1 lead in hand, it would take a major move by Edgewood to turn the tide of the showdown.
Who would make that game changing move for the Cardinals?
Enter Dylan Woodsome.
And after Brady Lafferty reached base via an infield dribbler that was just pushed out of the catcher’s reach, Woodsome went to work with one out gone in the bottom of the fifth frame.
He unloaded a blast that just cleared the fence in right field as his two-run round-tripper got the Cardinals within one at 4-3 and the momentum clearly belonged to visiting Edgewood.
“The turning point was Dylan Woodsome’s two-run homer,” said Cardinals manager Gregg Lafferty. “It got us back within one run and we were flat offensively the whole game up until that happened.”
“It just woke everybody up.”
And then in the sixth, the Cardinals took the lead for good with a three-run burst.
Edgewood tied the game at 4-4 off a dropped ball at first base that would have produced an out – scoring a run – and then went ahead in the contest off an RBI groundout by Woodsome.
Finally, with the bases loaded, Kyle Lauretti walked to force in a run as the Cardinals strode up a 6-4 push that ended up being the final score of the game.
Edgewood had to piece things together a bit on the mound, going through four pitchers including Lauretti, Joey Maglio, Ian Latko and, eventually, Noah Hickey to seal the deal and the victory.
The combination of throwers finally got the job done in the end in a real team effort.
“One of the relievers I was going to use told me he had a sore arm about a minute before the game so I had to piece it together with three different kids who normally don’t pitch, who pitched only a couple times all season,” said Lafferty. “And they kept us in it until we could rally offensively.”
“That was huge for us.”
Woodsome went 2-for-4 in the game with a single, the two-run home run and three RBI while Hickey drew three base-on-balls.
Lauretti walked twice, Lafferty earned a hit, walked and scored twice while Latko ripped a triple down the right field line in the final inning of play.
However, the Yankees kept it close until the end before the squad simply ran out of time.
“The Cardinals are a great team and my hats off to them,” said Yankees manager Kevin Greene. “But I’m proud of my kids. They never gave up. They played tough. They came back hitting, which is what I asked them to.”
“But the better team won…the Cardinals are a great team.”
Carson Sassu added two hits in the losing cause while Payton Clark and Sean O’Neil generated a hit during the fray.
Credit certainly belonged to the Yankees as Sassu, starting on the mound, gave it his all and, because of the Little League pitch count rules, had to leave the game with two outs on the board in the fifth but carried a 4-3 lead with him to the dugout.
Going 4.2 innings, Sassu struck out seven and walked three over a busy day’s worth of action but earned a no decision.
“The Yankees are a terrific team,” said Lafferty, “just a very dangerous team.”
But the Cardinals drew first blood to open things up as Woodsome put a base hit into right and eventually scored off a wild pitch to make it a 1-0 game.
In the bottom of the second, the Yankees put a three-spot on the board to nab a two-run cushion.
With two outs, Mike Ferraro walked, Ben Stafford reach off an error and Brady Harvey drew a base-on-balls to load things up.
Sassu then smashed a single up the middle to score two runs and later, a wild pitch eventually led to an error as Harvey scooted home as the Yankees jumped out to a 3-1 edge. One inning later, an RBI single by O’Neil plated Payton Clark and the 4-1 jaunt by McCabe-Waters was imposing indeed.
It was imposing except for the Cardinals.
“They could have broken it up early,” said Lafferty of the Yankees. “We had them in an elimination game so we were hoping to get up early and basically, not give them any hope. But they jumped out to that lead and we had to fight back. We’ve done that a number of times this year.”
“This team’s got a lot of heart.”
From there Maglio and Ian Latko held the fort from the hill as Edgewood came back with a big fifth inning.
Woodsome flipped in the home run and quickly, the Cardinals snuck up on the Yankees as McCabe-Waters lead was trimmed to 4-3.
Hickey was brought in to pitch in the fifth and retired six in a row to keep the Yankees at bay.
“Noah was the guy I was hoping to finish it off with if we could take the lead,” said Lafferty. “I had gone through everybody…I went through Ian Latko, I went through Joey Maglio, and it was basically do or die with Noah.”
Latko, Bobby Mosback, and Lafferty all crossed the plate in the final inning to play as the Cardinals’ lead reached 6-4 with the Yankees down to their final three outs of the year.
“The Yankees are a great team,” said Lafferty said. “They had their ace ready to pitch in the next game and we had ours as well but we didn’t want to get to that point (in a third game) where anything could have happened.”
Hickey closed out the game with three quick strikeouts as the Cardinals earned a hard fought sweep with their 6-4 win over the double-tough Yankees.
“It was a gutsy job by the kids,” said Lafferty. “They’ve done it all year.”
By MICHAEL LETENDRE