Rebels Repeat as Long Island Champs!
Port Washington, NY – The North Bellmore North Merrick Little League Rebels are the 2012 Williamsport NY Section 6 champions. For the second time in as many years the Rebels attained the Section title and will represent Long Island at the State tournament.
After yesterday’s rain-out, NBNM squared off with Commack South Little League – the team that won the 9/10 year-old Mid-Atlantic region title in 2010 – in the NY Section 6 final today on a day made for baseball at Lions Field in Port Washington. The two teams were the last standing after a week of Section pool play amongst Long Island’s six District champions: Southampton LL, Sayville LL, Plainview LL, Port Washington LL, Commack South LL, and North Bellmore North Merrick LL.
Rebels starting pitcher Brian Porricelli set the tone from the start of this one when he sat Commack down in order in the top of the first. He picked up 2 of the 16 strikeouts he would record on the day. In the Rebels half, Jack Delaney worked a walk to get things started for the Rebels and an infield hit legged out by Porricelli set up a first and third for NBNM. With a 1-2 count, Matt Conry managed a ground ball to the right side of the infield that plated Delaney for an early 1-0 Rebels lead.
In the second, Porricelli struck out the side on 12 pitches. A lead-off single by Nick Valeriano set the table for the Rebels in their half. A successful sacrafice bunt by Kevin McCleneghan moved Valeriano to second. With two outs, Matt Nilsen drove a 2-2 pitch over the head of Commack’s center fielder and off the wall for an RBI double and a 2-0 Rebels lead.
Porricelli, continuing his dominance, again fanned the side in the Commack third on 13 pitches. Commack starter Theodorellis then got the Rebels to go 1-2-3 in the bottom.
In the fourth inning Commack managed their biggest threat of the day. After their lead-off man Zoly fought through an eight-pitch at-bat, Porricelli got the third strike swinging but it couldn’t be handled behind the plate and Commack had their first baserunner of the game. Two-hitter Salerno then fell behind 0-2 but managed a ground ball up the middle for a base hit, the first and only yielded by Porricelli. When Theorellis next reached on a base on balls, Commack had the bases loaded and no outs and long-ball hitter Pohlman coming to the plate. In a moment of true greatness, with the Commack bench and fans reaching fever pitch and the pressure of the game at its height, Porricelli proceeded to strike out the next three batters and take all momentum back to the Rebels side in the turning point of the game. In the bottom, the Rebels threatened with walks to Valeriano and Matt Coster, but Theorellis worked out of the jam for Commack.
It took Porricelli just 11 pitches to strike out the side in the top of the fifth. With Commack South’s Pohlman working in relief, Billy McAdam drew a walk and Porricelli singled up the middle. A passed ball allowed both runners to advance. On a 2-2 pitch to Conry, he drove the ball off the right field wall for a 2-RBI double and a 4-0 lead for NBNM. With two out, Kevin McCleneghan was hit by a pitch. A wild pitch from Pohlman moved Conry and McCleneghan to third and second, respectively. Coster stepped up and took an 0-1 pitch through the hole and into left for a 2-out, 2-RBI base knock and a convincing 6-0 lead for the Rebels.
In the sixth, with Porricelli coming up on his pitch-count limit, he won another battle with Zoly and, with 6 pitches, rang up his 16th K on a called strike three. Porricelli left to a much-deserved standing ovation and Coach Sam Acri handed the ball to Valeriano. Valeriano worked a full count to Salerno who managed a fly ball that got over the right fielder’s head for a double. Theodorellis followed with a bloop hit to right that set up a first-and-third for Commack. With the Rebels defense conceding the run by playing back for the double-play, clean-up hitter Pohlman hit a hard ground ball to third. Conry fielded it cleanly, fired to Alec Acri at second who made the pivot and throw to McCleneghan for the bang-bang play at first. The runner was called safe and, with two outs in the sixth inning, Commack was on the board. On the next pitch, Commack’s Messina lined a ball to the right side that was snagged by Acri for the third out and the Section title.
The Rebels road to Williamsport now runs through Rocky Point and the five other Section champions where they’ll do battle for the chance to represent New York state at the Regionals. (Match-ups and schedule for next week’s State tournament are TBD.)